Depth Interviewing Skills, NatCen
The course attended was ‘Depth Interviewing Skills’ – it took place at NatCen in London and lasted for 2 days in February 2015.
From Lindsay’s perspective:
This course built upon and developed what had been covered when we were at Warwick and covered specifically ‘Depth Interviewing Skills’.
I really enjoyed this course, I was quite apprehensive prior to attending; however, I learned a lot and found the sessions very useful. The whole two days were very well organised with a folder of materials and a text book provided. All those teaching on it were very knowledgeable and experienced in this area of research. The course had a good mix of teaching us necessary skills, observing others, commenting on videos of interviews and group work – this allowed you to learn what skills were required for in-depth interviews but also enabled you to see if you had/or displayed any of the necessary skills!
The most useful and insightful exercise was without a doubt the practical session – triad. In this session we were split into groups of 3 and had to either act as interviewer, interviewee or observer (everyone had a go at each of these) – during these sessions we were observed by a NatCen qualitative researcher who provided feedback on how we had done in regards to conducting the interview in addition to the peer feedback received. This activity (although I had in all honesty been dreading it) was the most beneficial for my own development and confidence and the feedback I received was really useful and encouraging. Now all I need to do is remember and take these skills with me to the interviews in the not too distant future!!
From Gemma’s perspective:
Despite my previous experience at conducting semi-structured interviews, I found this course both useful and enjoyable. The thing that I liked about it most was the clearly huge amount of experience that those teaching the course had. This came across extremely clearly in the teaching and there was clear authenticity when it came to answering questions and facilitating discussion. I thought that the videos were very useful, the materials were very good and professionally produced and there was a clear structure to the training. Because the course ran over two days and focused just on depth interviewing, there was also plenty of time for lots of practice. I think with the development of this type of skill, you can never have too much practice. Especially in a very supportive environment where you’re able to receive constructive feedback which it’s more difficult to get once you’re actually out in the field conducting your research.
The one thing I learned which has really stuck with me was the relatively straightforward concept of ‘mapping and mining’ in a qualitative interview. This has really really helped in completing my interviews for this research project. I’m now constantly reflecting on what has been said and asking myself – have I mapped all of the breadth that I’m looking for in this area? And then, have I mined for the depth that I want? I also use this concept quite frequently when teaching students how to use a qualitative interview methodology.
Comparing my interview technique in my current interviews to those I did in my Masters is a world away. I think partly because this course really helped me develop my knowledge and skills around in-depth interviewing, but also because of the grounded theory methodology we have chosen to use (more later). I have also noticed that qualitative technique are also very useful in some of my other work, particularly in my teaching when getting the students to feedback thoughts and answers, and also in my commissioning role when attending service development and evaluation meetings.
In terms of the impact on the project, our topic guides for all the interviews were designed in the NatCen style which was taught on the course. I would definitely recommend NatCen for social research methods training based on my experiences of their courses and am likely to return again for more.
Here is a link to the course we attended:
A useful database for all research methods training, including qualitative methods training can be found here: