Telephone interviewing

Don’t rule out the telephone

Telephone interviews are largely neglected in the qualitative research literature and are often depicted as a less attractive alternative to face-to-face interviewing when they do get a mention. The absence of visual cues via telephone has led to an assumption there’s a loss of contextual and nonverbal data. But telephones allow respondents to feel relaxed and able to disclose sensitive information. Qualitative telephone data have been judged to be rich, vivid, detailed, and of high quality.

The advantages of using the telephone include decreased cost (to include decreased space requirements) and increased access to geographically disparate subjects and the ability to document the session and answers unobtrusively. Telephones allow participants to remain on “their own turf” and permit more anonymity, decreased social pressure, and increase rapport.