A common qualitative research tool, one-on-one interviews are exactly what they sound like – in-depth interviews conducted one on one between an individual respondent and a professional qualitative researcher.
One on one research tends to be more structured than focus groups and therefore require more active intervention from the moderator.
Using one on one research doesn’t mean that good process and methodical rigour are not required. Just as with focus groups, conducting a series of in-depth interviews demands thorough project planning, appropriate recruiting, the right incentives for participants, a detailed discussion guide, and disciplined analysis and reporting.
when we do it
- sensitive topics: when the subject matter is too sensitive, personal or potentially embarrassing in nature to make group discussion comfortable or participants, the topic may be better suited for in-depth interviews.
- potential for bias: when participants’ opinions could easily be coloured by the facial expressions or body language of others in the group, one-on-one interviews may be preferable to focus groups (examples may be taste-testing or concept testing).
- busy audiences: for busy respondents such as time-pressed executives, (particularly for research in the b2b space), one on one research can be a good choice. With busy audiences the logistics of gathering a group of participants together in one room are often too complex to make focus groups a realistic option.
- confidential information: if respondents’ anonymity must be assured, (e.g. employee interviews, interviews with individuals from competing firms), individual interviews are more likely to generate honest and detailed feedback while maintaining the strictest confidentiality.
- detailed understanding: where a detailed understanding of complicated behavior is required (e.g. shopping behavior, specifics regarding product usage, sensory experiences, and hence forth) one-on-ones provide each interviewee with the necessary “air time” to thoroughly explore and explain their underlying motivations, beliefs, attitudes and feelings.
one on one research are likely the right choice for the research study if the subject matter is sensitive or very detailed, or if the research is required to generate insights based on the types of personal perspectives, stories and experiences that are unlikely to be shared in a group discussion.