An interview is a popular technique for collecting data in research. There are two categories of interviews: structured and unstructured interviews. Our concern here is mainly with the second type, which is an unstructured interview. An unstructured interview does not follow a pre-determined structure. The interview is flexible and informal. It is an important data collection technique in research. This article will tell you about an unstructured interview and its advantages and disadvantages.

What Is An Unstructured Interview?

An unstructured interview is a data collection technique. It entails asking questions from the participants to gather data for research. Researchers refer to unstructured interviews as non-directive interviewing technique. It does not follow a pre-determined pattern or arrangement of questions. The arrangement of questions is quite flexible, and the researcher can ask any question depending on the flow of the conversation. Unstructured interviews are mostly qualitative. They help collect data for social sciences and humanities research. The questions are spontaneous and do not have a rigid pattern or order. The interviewer asks the questions spontaneously to gather the relevant information from the respondents.

Unstructured interviews are informal because the questions have a free flow. Market research and recruitment processes also employ unstructured interviews because of their flexible approach. Unstructured interviews use a feedback system to steer the discussion in the direction of the study. To gain deep and trustworthy insights about the research topic, the researcher creates new questions depending on the answers given by the interviewee. The quality of findings gathered through unstructured interviews depends upon the researcher’s capability. It depends upon the researcher’s capability to engage in a lively discussion around the issue.

Furthermore, it depends upon the researcher’s capability to extract useful information. The interviewer must have good communication skills. Also, the researcher must simplify the complex concepts for the interviewee to better understand the topic. However, in case of any issues, PhD dissertation help services are available which can be hired.

When Should You Use An Unstructured Interview?

Using an interview technique that aligns with the research’s aims and objectives is important. Using data collection tools that are opposite to research goals is counterproductive. An unstructured interview can be difficult to conduct. It may not provide reliable answers to your research questions. You can use an unstructured interview for the following reasons:

  • Experienced interviewers with a strong command of their subjects can use this technique.
  • Useful for exploratory research when the purpose of the researcher is to discover new perspectives and ideas
  • It is a useful technique for gathering descriptive data. When the researcher wants to build a strong and thorough context for the research topic.
  • Qualitative research that requires recording the personal experiences of people

Unstructured interviews help researchers develop a deeper connection with the respondents. Researchers can connect with respondents on an emotional level. It can reveal deep insights into people’s thoughts, emotions and lived experiences.

What Are The Advantages Of An Unstructured Interview?


An unstructured interview gives more flexibility to the researcher than a structured or semi-structured interview. Unstructured interviews are informal. They are like a daily conversation that occurs naturally between two speakers.


An unstructured interview is interactive. The researcher does not ask questions with a pre-defined criterion. Instead, the researcher develops questions out of the free flow of conversation and improvises. Questions emerge from the discussion, and the conversation acquires the tone of dialectics. Greeks used to hold conversations in a dialectical manner which was informal and interactive. It is an effective technique for generating deep insights about the subject.

Breaks the Ice

It is often the case that in interviews, the interviewee is not at ease because of the formalities. However, the interviewee feels more at ease and comfortable in an unstructured interview. The interviewer breaks the ice by asking questions spontaneously and in an unstructured manner. It breaks the ice and lets the conversation flow freely to know the advantages and disadvantages of case studies.

Deep Insights

An unstructured interview helps researchers gather nuanced results with deeper implications. It is because the nature of the interview is exploratory. Furthermore, the interviewer asks the questions informally, which leads to bonding between the researcher and interviewee. It helps researchers extract information about complex emotions and thought processes. The respondents feel comfortable sharing their personal experiences, leading to rich data collection. Nuanced and detailed data help researchers develop new perspectives.

Reduces Biasness

Unstructured interviews reduce the risk of biasness to a considerable degree. It is because the researcher does not follow a set pattern of questions. The respondents have more power in directing the conversation. advantages and disadvantages of case studies to collect data about sensitive and complex emotional issues.

What Are The Disadvantages Of An Unstructured Interview?

Reduced Reliability And Generalisability

Unstructured interviews are perfect for exploring a topic in-depth. However, it also affects the reliability and generalisability of the findings. The research questions can vary. The results are not comparable because every conversation follows an unstructured pattern. The researcher might be unable to compare the answers, and the analysis becomes quite challenging. The sample size of an unstructured interview is small because it is time-consuming to interview every respondent at length. Also, it reduces the validity and reliability of the results.

Leading Questions

Since the flow of conversation is quite informal in an unstructured interview, there is a risk of biasness seeping into the conversation. The researcher might ask leading questions. When indulging in informal conversations, it is difficult to check your biases and personal opinions.


Unstructured interviews are time-consuming because they are quite lengthy. The interviewer has to spend considerable time interviewing and analysing the results.

Low Internal Validity

There is no mechanism to ensure that the interviewer will stay on track since the questions emerge spontaneously. On top of that, there is an added risk of additional questions that develop during the conversation. It makes it hard to stay on the track and keep the research goals aligned with the interview questions. It compromises the internal validity of the interview.


An unstructured interview is an effective data collection technique when the researcher aims to explore a topic. It is an informal technique of collecting data from the respondents. It entails subject expertise and good communication skills for a meaningful discussion with the respondents.


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