Deciphering the Essentials of Qualitative Interview Analysis

Qualitative data is a valuable resource for researchers, business owners, and anyone interested in understanding the complexities of human behavior. It provides insights into people' thoughts and feelings, helping researchers understand the phenomenon under study.

Interviews with study participants is a data gathering method that can provide researchers with a wealth of information. What's better than getting invaluable insights into the thoughts and feelings of study participants? Without further ado, let's look at how to analyze qualitative data from an interview.

First things first. How do researchers obtain qualitative data? There are a few common sources:

  1. Observations
  2. Interviews
  3. Focus groups
  4. Document analysis
  5. Audio and video recordings
  6. Field study notes

Let's say Joseph is a content marketing manager who needs to understand how to improve his blog posts. Joseph decides to interview several regular blog readers to get a deeper understanding of their experience with his content. He asks each person the same questions and analyzes their responses. This is a simple example of how qualitative data can be collected through interviews.

What's the Purpose of Qualitative Data?

Qualitative is different from quantitative. Unlike quantitative data, qualitative data cannot be expressed in numerical form. This kind of information helps explain  the how and why behind human behavior. In other words, it helps explain the thoughts and emotions that drive people's actions. As a result, qualitative data is often used in research to generate new hypotheses and theories.

When analyzing data from interviews, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind. Let's look at some to have a better understanding of the matter.

Step 1: Identify The Purpose Behind The Research

The first step is to determine the purpose of the planned study. What are you hoping to learn from the interviews? What research questions are you trying to answer? By clearly understanding the key objectives, you will be able to focus the analysis and avoid getting sidetracked.

Step 2: Choose the Right Sources

Researchers must be cautious about the quality and reliability of their sources before extracting certain information. Interviews with inventors, scientists, and business leaders are often fail-safe than those with the general public. Furthermore, experts in a particular field are likely to provide more accurate information about their expertise.

Step 3: Transcribe the Interviews

In order to make sense of all the data you've collected, it is essential to develop a system for organizing it. For interviews, a standard method is to create transcripts of the conversation, which can be coded and sorted according to different themes. This will make the analysis much simpler and less time-consuming.

There are two possible ways to get the material transcribed: amazing transcription skills, or specialized audio transcription software. If you opt for the latter, check out Podcastle, an open-source platform that makes transcription a breeze. The Audio to Text feature makes Podcastle a go-to tool for everything concerning audio and video editing. Users can upload, transcribe, and edit their files in one place.

If what you need is interview audio, you can use Podcastle to record high-quality remote interviews with up to 10 guests from your Chrome browser or the platform’s iOS application. Podcastle allows users to record locally uncompressed 48kHz WAV audio tracks for every interview guest. That’s huge compared to other free products available on the market.

Accurate interview transcripts allow researchers to use the most advanced qualitative analysis approaches - deduction and induction. Let's look at a few examples of practical interview analysis and how to conduct them.

Qualitative Interview Analysis Example: Deduction in Practice

Deductive analysis is a top-down approach that starts with a theory or hypothesis and then uses the data to view its patterns across a data set. This type of analysis is often used in structured interviews where the questions are predetermined and standardized.

The advantage of a deductive approach is that it can be used to confirm or refute existing theories. However, the downside is that it can lead to researcher bias if the initial hypothesis is not based on solid evidence.

Suppose now Joseph needs to analyze his blog post's effectiveness. He is sure that, on average, every fifth reader enjoys his articles. How can Joseph check this? He has to take a sample of 100 readers and interview them. If 20 or more claim they like his blog, then Joseph's hypothesis is correct.

Nevertheless, if Joseph only finds 15 people who liked his blog post, it would suggest that either the theory is inaccurate or that his sample size was too small to provide an accurate representation. This is just a brief example of interview analysis through deduction. The study may require additional research and more precise calculations on a larger scale.

Qualitative Interview Analysis Example: Induction in Practice

How would Joseph act if he wanted to check his blog post's effectiveness via induction? Induction is a bottom-up approach that relies on data patterns to generate new hypotheses. Unlike deduction, this analysis does not start with a pre-existing theory.

In order to inductively analyze his blog post's success, Joseph would need to interview a larger sample size (over 200-300 readers). He would then look for any common patterns or themes in the responses. These patterns could be anything from his readers' age group distribution to how often they read his blog.

From there, Joseph can generate hypotheses about why specific patterns are occurring. For example, suppose he finds that most of his readers are teenagers. In that case, he could build a theory that his blog is popular among a particular age group because it covers relevant topics.

Qualitative data is very important for understanding human behavior, and underlies the primary takeaways from this article:

  • Knowing how to analyze qualitative data from an interview can become your superpower while working with people.
  • Deduction and induction are the two main approaches to analyzing qualitative data from an interview.
  • Analyzing qualitative data from interviews can help researchers understand participants' attitudes towards a particular phenomenon.
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