Expert Interview for College/University Students

15.12.20 Interviews Time to read: 6min

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Expert interviews are qualitative methods of data collection with the primary objective of gathering information about a particular issue or field of action. This post will deliver more insights on expert interviews and everything college/university students need to know about the research method.

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Expert Interview - FAQs

This refers to when the interviewee has expertise in their respective study area. They can be one on one or conducted by a big group. They can either be formal or informal and can be held by email, in person or over the phone.

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Expert interviews are mostly needed when the interviewer wants to get in-depth information about a particular case study.

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There are three types of interviews: Structured, semi-structured and unstructured interviews:

  • Structured interviews: This kind of interview strictly follow an interview protocol for the researcher to be guided. It is a more rigid style of interview whereby only questions found in the interview protocol are asked. This means that there are no opportunities to probe and explore topics further.
  • Semi-structured interviews: This kind of interview follows the interview protocol to guide the researcher throughout the process. They can incorporate conversational aspects and, in most cases, it’s a guided conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee. It provides the interviewer with a chance to probe the interviewee further.
  • Unstructured interviews: These kinds of interviews do not include any interview questions, or if any, very few interview questions. They often go the way normal conversations go but mostly concern the research topic. It is actually a formless interview-style mostly used by researchers to build a rapport with the experts.

Some experts who do qualitative research tend to avoid the question of ‘how many’ interviews are considered enough. There is no exact number for the minimum expert numbers that will be considered to be enough. Most articles and book chapters recommend from 5 to 50 participants as the adequate number or if you feel you have gotten enough information after interviewing a few people, then that is enough.

You have to have a good plan and follow the right procedure while coming up with a plan. Below are some of the steps you can follow when coming up with a plan on how to interview an expert:

  • Plan your piece
  • Make contact
  • Do research
  • Conduct the interview
  • Always record the interview
  • Always listen to the expert and don’t always hurry to ask the next question
  • Learn to accept silence

Definition: Expert Interview

An interview is basically a conversation involving two or more people. Mostly between the interviewer and the interviewee and the interviewer asks questions while the interviewee replies to them.

Expert interviews refer to the expert being the interviewee and having expertise in a certain area of study. They can be done formally or informally and be done over the phone or by email.

Conducting expert interviews helps the researcher get specific information about a specific study area. As a researcher, you need to identify who is an expert in your area of study. You can do this by looking out for their credibility and credentials. Experts need to have vast knowledge, ability and experience in their area of study.

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What are the different steps?



Before beginning your interview, you need to do a few preparations:

  • Define your purpose: Come up with a clear purpose of what the interview is all about.
  • Write a list of questions: Compile a list of questions that will help you get the necessary information concerning your purpose. Select three of four questions from the list and discuss them with the interviewee in advance.
  • Dress appropriately: The best suggestion for a dress code is business attire as it shows a high level of professionalism.
  • Organise your materials: Have your notepad and tape recorder ready for the interview. Ensure you are equipped with the necessities such as pens with enough ink, charged batteries and enough paper.
  • Double check: Go over everything that you have planned for ahead of the interview.

Beginning the interview

Once you have a laid down plan for your interview and its time for the interview, begin the interview with a polite greeting such as “How are you”, thank the interviewee for creating time to meet you, make sure the interviewee is comfortable and make the interview interesting.


Ending the interview

While conducting an expert interview, how you begin and end the interview matters greatly. When ending an interview, there are a few things that you can do:

  • Sincerely thank the interviewee for creating time to come for the interview.
  • Ask the expert if you can include their responses in your research in the future.
  • Ask them if they will be willing to allow you to share some of their work on your case study.

Consolidating your findings

Expert interviews can be carried out individually or by a group. While conducting individual expert interviews, the main focus is usually to get important information concerning the case study. You might want to interview more than two people to get the full effectiveness of the interviews.

This is the best way to take if you are less familiar with the interview topic. The right way to take is by interviewing more people that can help you understand the topic more.

Example questions for an expert interview

Below are some of the questions you can ask a marketing expert in the salon sector:

  • Who are the most regular customers in a salon? (gender/age)
  • What time do most people go to the salon?
  • How can I keep track of my customers?

Tips for conducting an expert interview

The guidelines below can help you conduct an expert interview.

  • Be early: Always keep time. You do not want to keep the interviewee waiting.
  • Be polite: Make a brief introduction of yourself to the interviewee. State your name and the reason for being there.
  • Be thankful: After the interview, thank the interviewee for agreeing to meet you.

In a Nutshell

Expert interviews are mostly conducted when trying to gather information about a case study. It’s important to prepare well and do enough research on the expert and know what to ask and what not to ask. College students can therefore utilise expert interviews as a way of carrying out their research.