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Semistructured Interview Essay

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Conducting an interview is not as straightforward as it may seem. On paper the idea is that an interview is “‘a meeting of two persons to exchange information and ideas through questions and responses, resulting in communication and joint construction of meaning about a particular topic’” (Esterberg 2001:83). In the social sciences, being able to interview individuals allows the research to observe individual experiences, while also speaking to the broader sociological dynamics of a society. In Qualitative Methods in Social Research, Esterberg describes interviewing as a “relationship between two individuals…two individuals come together to try to create meaning about a particular topic. While participating in this relationship, they also draw…show more content…
According to Qualitative Methods in Social Research, the goal of a semistructured interview is “to explore a topic more openly and to allow interviewees to express their opinions and ideas in their own words” (Esterberg 2001: 87). This form of interviewing permitted me to get a deeper understanding of someone else’s perspective about how they see the world around them, particularly the bus usage in Williamsburg. I wanted to interview a person who rode the bus daily and who had created their own perspective of the bus uses in Williamsburg. I created an interview guide that would help me develop a flow of questions that would ultimately reach the main focus of my interview. Since I had chosen to do a semistructured interview I was able to be much freer in my exchange with my interviewee. In the interview, I would ask a question and listen to her answer, and if I felt that I could develop another question from her answer, I did. The conversation flowed and I allowed the interviewee to structure the interview and to order the questions through her…show more content…
She used the WATA bus system daily, since she lived off-campus and did not have a car. I got her email though another student from my qualitative research class. From the first email, the student was willing to be interviewed. I explained the purpose of the interview as and I was able to schedule a date for the interview quite quickly. When it came time for the interview, we met in a study room in the library. Once she arrived and became comfortable, I explained to her what the informed consent was and how I would keep her identity confidential. She did not ask me any questions about the informed consent or any other ethical problems. She just smiled and told me she was not really worried about her confidentiality. I tried to talk as little as possible and to ask questions that would keep her talking. I felt that our rapport developed slowly in the beginning but once she saw that all I wanted were her thoughts and opinions, she opened up much easily. From the moment she came into the room, I tried to make the process of interviewing as casual as I could make it. I let her choose her seat and moved according to how she sitting. I also picked a study room in the back of the library when no one would walk by. She answered all of my questions and did not try to be evasive in any way. Once we got into the interview she smiled, laughed, and even made facial
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