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Stich Conducts Interview of Interviewing Expert

How to Interview with Amy Stich

by Larissa Lozano

Dr. Amy Stich interviews Dr. Kathy Roulston on the skills needed to effectively conduct qualitative interviews and current developments in the field.

The podcast, released on February 10, is episode 30 of “Tricks, Tips, and Stories in Qualitative Interviewing” in the Qualitative Conversations series from the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Stich sets the stage for this in-depth discussion by acknowledging that novice researchers might view interviewing as an “all too familiar tool,” likening it more to a casual conversation rather than appreciating it as a complex method for research.

Roulston also cautions that while technology and recording tools have increased the accuracy of preserving what occurs, interviewers need to be aware of the impact that they themselves have on the exchange. Even with scripted questions, interviewers’ cadence and pauses might influence interviewees and effect responses.

Although some scholars argue that teaching interviewing is not necessary, Roulston believes it is essential. Although interviewers use “ordinary language skills,” new researchers frequently lack practice with and formal instruction on how to ask follow-up questions and be good listeners. 

Roulston describes good interviewers as people who are good listeners, respect interviewees, arrive well-prepared, think on their feet and, most importantly, are flexible. 

She adds that interviewers also must be able to adapt and ensure interviewees are engaged and cooperating with this data gathering process. 

Stich and Roulston note that even with the best intentions and planning “failed interviews” happen. Experienced interviewers will encounter challenges and these episodes have valuable lessons to teach. “I tend not to write off interviews as 'failures.' Because I think if something is goes really terribly wrong in an interview, then that gives me something interesting to unpack,” says Roulston.

Amy Stich is an associate professor at the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia. Kathy Roulston is a professor in the qualitative research program at the University of Georgia. 

The American Educational Research Association (AERA) was founded in 1916 and it is a research society that represents education researchers across the United States and the world. It seeks to advance knowledge about education, encourage scholarly inquiry, and promote the use of research to improve education and serve the community.

The Qualitative Conversations podcast is run by the Qualitative Research Special Interest Group (QRSIG) within AERA. QRSIG was established in 1987 and it promotes discussion about methodological and ethical issues in qualitative research along with seeking new approaches to qualitative research.

Listen to the full episode and read the full transcript.

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Associate Professor of Higher Education

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