Face-to-face interactions predominate in semi-structured or in-depth interviews. However, these kinds of interviews can also be performed over the phone utilizing a video calling service or a voice/listening-only mode. The ability to conduct research interviews over the phone has substantially increased thanks to mobile phones, particularly when using video telephone services like Skype.
Telephone vs Face to Face Interviews (Mode Effect):
Whether your interview is performed over the phone or in person, its goals will largely remain the same. The manner in which an interview is done, however, is likely to have an impact on the results. This phenomenon is known as a mode effect.
- Telephone interviews are often shorter than in-person ones.
- Telephone interviews may be less appropriate for research investigations that are intended to rely on richly detailed and in-depth statements.
- Telephone interviewers are also more likely to ask the researcher to clarify or repeat his questions.
- In face-to-face interviews, the interviewer is more likely to engage the interviewee during an answer, such as by suggesting a term or summarising the response.
Advantages of Telephone Interview Method:
Telephone-based semi-structured or in-depth interviewing can have benefits in terms of accessibility, speed, and cost. We can speak with people who it would be impossible to interview otherwise because of the distance, prohibitive travel expenses, and required time.
Telephone interviewing can still provide benefits related to the speed of data collection and cheaper cost, even in cases when “long-distance” access is not a concern. In some cases, it might even be safer for the researcher to do phone interviews. In other words, this strategy can be seen to be simpler and more practical.
Although the restricted opportunity for interpersonal interaction and reliance on verbal and linguistic cues are typically seen as disadvantages, this may not always be the case. Participants’ inhibitions about sharing details about extremely personal issues are lessened by the anonymity of a voice/listening-only form of interviewing. This implies that it can be useful in some situations to discuss delicate subjects over the phone. The use of the telephone also facilitates participation by allowing participants to select a suitable time of day to be interviewed, halt an interview in progress when doing so became necessary and reschedule when it could resume, and move around their environment when necessary to avoid being overheard.
Disadvantages of Telephone Interview Method:
In semi-structured and in-depth interviews, it’s crucial to make a personal touch with the interviewee. Personal interaction is also constrained while doing a phone interview, particularly when using a voice/listening-only mode. It could be more challenging to build rapport and trust over the phone because it can be seen as impersonal and relatively anonymous. It will be challenging to conduct a telephone interview if your subjects are not comfortable using this medium. This could result in concerns with (lower) reliability where your participants are hesitant to participate in a telephone-based exploratory discussion, or even complete refusal to participate.
Telephone interviews rely on paralinguistic and verbal cues. Visual aids are obviously not used during interviews conducted over the phone in voice/listening-only mode. Paralinguistic signals include things like voice quality, tone, pitch, rhythm, and tempo of speech, as well as the emphasis placed on specific words and syllables. While listening only might help keep the conversation on track, it will be difficult to identify, investigate, and comprehend visual cues.
Additionally, there are practical concerns that must be handled while conducting telephone interviews. These include your capacity to set the tempo of a phone conversation and record information. It is challenging and stressful to conduct a phone interview while taking notes. In a voice-only telephone interview, there won’t be any visual clues to help your subject manage the flow of information that she or he communicates with you normally. As the interviewer, you will also miss the chance to see the participant’s nonverbal behavior, which could negatively influence how far you take a specific line of inquiry.