Why is this tool used in evaluation?
The interview is an information collection tool which usually takes the shape of a face-to-face discussion between the evaluator and the interviewee. In evaluation, the use of interviews is simple, quick, and affordable, which makes its use inevitable.
What use can be made of the interview?
In evaluation, the interview collects different kind of information:
The interview may be used as a quantitative collection tool; however, it is mostly a qualitative device. Information, including facts that can be checked, points of view, analyses and opinions should be clearly distinguished. Three types of interviews can be carried out:
This type of interview is particularly interesting at the start of an evaluation, in order to get a global view of the subject, and identify the major topics and issues.
This type of interview is the most frequently used, particularly when the evaluator knows sufficient about the aims and the main questions to pose during the evaluation.
This type of interview is useful when a large number of interviews must be carried out and when the evaluator wants to minimise the risk of bias from the interviewer.
Establish homogeneous interview grids when several teams are responsible for conducting the interviews. Semi-structured interviews are the most commonly used tool in evaluation and are the subject of further guidance.
How is the interview carried out?
How is the interview prepared?
The evaluator should first prepare the list of questions to be asked during the interviews.
The schedule of questions indicates the categories of respondent to be interviewed, within which the evaluator chooses those most capable of providing the information. The evaluator must determine:
Once the categories of respondent are defined, the evaluator can schedule the interviews and try to find a balance between the rational and optimal use of his/her own time and a flexible and "human" vision of the other's time.
Questionnaire grids (the evaluation's strategic questions), and interview guidelines derived from them (questions asked during the interview), vary with the categories of respondent, the latter's links with the evaluated issue and the type of interview (unstructured, semi-structured or structured interviews).
Grids should include all themes and questions which the evaluator wants to discuss with the respondents. The questionnaire grid is an intermediary between the evaluation study's design and its implementation
Interview guidelines provide the interview with a framework which is not binding on the evaluator.
How is the interview conducted?
|Figure 2: the preconditions for its use|
|The time span||The preparation for the interview does not take long.
The number of interviews which can be carried out during the day is limited. In practice, at the interviewee's request, the expert may conduct an interview with several respondents at the same time. This particular use of the interview increases the opportunity of collecting the information required in a relatively short time.
|Human resources||Interviews must be conducted by a trained professional. The necessary skills are:
|Financial resources||Possible transportation costs
Costs depend on the number of interviews; however, the interview itself does not lead to substantial costs
What are the advantages and limitations of the tool?
|Figure 3: The advantages and limitations of the tool|
|Advantages||Quick and easy to use.
Short delays and low costs.
Appropriate tool to meet a limited number of key respondents.
Essential tool to develop analyses and understand the stakeholders' perceptions of the programme.
|Limitations||At a reasonable cost, only few people can be interviewed.
Problems relating to the respondent's 'representativeness' particularly for social groups and beneficiaries.
The information must be checked and interviews are generally combined with other analytical tools.