Interview and Focus Group Guides

This section describes how to develop guides for conducting interviews or focus groups, two of the most common methods of collecting qualitative data.

When conducting interviews and focus groups, all respondents must answer the same questions—and that is why it is a good idea to develop a guide for your interview or focus group facilitator(s). You can develop a guide in just four steps:

  • Identify the purpose of your interview or focus group: What are you hoping to gain from speaking with the participating individuals?
  • Identify your target population: Who do you need to speak with to obtain the data you need?
  • Create your script: How will the facilitator guide the conversation? What questions do you want the group to answer?
  • Test and refine the script: Will the questions solicit the types of information you are looking for?

Whether all your data comes from interviews or focus groups, or you decide to supplement your results with a survey, your questions should:

  • Be probing but not leading
    • Probing: “How do you feel this program affected you?”
    • Leading: “How much did this program change your mind?”
  • Use language participants would use
  • Be clear, short and easy to understand
  • Include directions for how individuals should present their answers
  • Include follow-up questions for the facilitator if individuals do not respond
  • Focus on one dimension at a time
    • E.g., If your program sought to change both attitudes and behaviors, ask about attitudes first and then behaviors, but not both at the same time.

Learn more focus groups tips and tricks.