The following post was written by Emily Palermo, Research & Social Media Associate at RMS.

An in-depth interview (IDI) is a qualitative research method that gathers comprehensive information from stakeholders. Researchers often conduct IDIs in-person, over the phone, or via the web as it’s critical for the respondent and interviewer to be able to converse in real-time. An IDI  project often includes a series of interviews which last between 15 minutes to an hour. Common uses for IDIs include branding research, customer satisfaction, new product/service interest, consumer/customer insights (e.g. VoC), as well as others. Results from IDIs point organizations in the right direction and give critical feedback for their next move. Below are 4 tips when preparing for your next IDI project.

  1. Know when to go off script

An IDI guide is developed as a first step, to clarify and organize information the organization needs to gather. When conducting an IDI, researchers look for opportunities to probe for more information. IDI guides often include reminders to probe for more information; however, skilled researchers go beyond these cues and look for clues in respondents’ answers to dig deeper.

  1. Get smart on your respondents

This varies from project to project, but the premise stays the same. Get smart on your respondents, and the qualities of the stakeholder group. This provides insight prior to the IDI which will help the researcher know when to probe further. One way to do this could be to review an interviewee’s LinkedIn profile to see their current job title and responsibilities before conducting an IDI about satisfaction with a current vendor.

  1. Include quantitative questions

Ask a few quantitative questions, such as likert scaled questions, that are insightful. As an added bonus, these responses are useful when supporting key takeaways in the report. Including quantitative questions can help the researcher introduce a topic during the interview, allow respondents to assign meaning to a concept/product/service, and provide the client with a touch of quantitative data. Once a researcher has posed the likert scaled question, it’s an ideal time to probe by asking respondents to explain the reasoning behind their answer.

  1. Be strategic with incentives

Some industries and companies have strict rules for accepting research incentives, so it’s important to do some preliminary investigation prior to the interview. If the interviewee is not allowed to accept an honorarium you can offer to donate the incentive to a charity of their choice. Lastly, it’s important to know an amount which will entice stakeholders to participate. Reflecting back on my college days, I remember participating in an IDI for a $5 Dunkin Donuts gift card which wouldn’t entice many of my working professionals to give up an hour during their weekday. Similarly, some professions may be harder to reach, have busier schedules, and larger average salaries which would require a larger incentive to entice them to participate.

RMS is a full-service market research firm located in Baldwinsville, NY. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development & Corporate Strategy at or by calling 1-866-567-5422.