Interviewer-interviewed relationship: a benefit for standardization

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Sometimes you have done interviews, for sure but: Have you analyzed the interaction during the applying?


Dana Garbarski, Nora Cate Schaeffer and Jennifer Dykema, written the article Interviewing Practices, Conversational Practices, and Rapport: Responsiveness and Engagement in the Standardized Survey Interview. They explain us how to use conversational analysis.

Let’s start since the beginning: Do you know what standardized interviews are? In a very simple way, these are interviews where there is a series of questions that are read to all interviewees alike, sequentially and, in most cases, the answers are short and specific.

Now that you know it, you have to consider that it can not always be completely standardized.

It is normal to generate relationships at the time of applying the interview, which is very beneficial because the more confidence there is between the interviewer and the interviewee, the better the results can be interpreted.

If you don’t believe me, think about when you talk to someone. The conversation is usually much more fluid between the more comfortable you feel, you will even be more honest in your answers. On the other hand, if you feel uncomfortable, you will not feel the confidence to give the “true” answers or go deeper into the topic, in those moments you just want to finish the conversation quickly.

And here, as in any relationship, both parties have to do their bit, both the interviewer has to show a response capacity; that is, show concern. How the interviewee must have a commitment.

How to show that concern? Simply verifying or repeating the answer, thanking or apologizing, all these show that we are listening, we can even laugh with the interviewee.

However, we must be very careful because every behavior that emerges during the interview must be considered in the context of the interview, for example, a laugh can be reciprocated or can be misinterpreted.

This is why you always have to know how to talk to all kinds of people. First identify who you are talking to, in order to know what kind of language is most appropriate for the specific situation. You are not going to talk in the same way to a person who works in the field, to a scientist if you want better results.

It is important then that we take into account all possible aspects when using this research technique, because, as responsible for them, we have a commitment to pay attention to everything that surrounds us, if the people involved become nervous , if the situation becomes tense, if something is misinterpreted or accepted in a good way, everything. Many times, however small we see certain actions, they can have a great weight in the final results of the investigation.

And if at this point you still think that the above can distort the objectives of standardization, Dana Garbarski, Nora Cate Schaeffer and Jennifer Dykema, say that bringing standardization to a more relaxed level will allow us to solve the possible misunderstandings of the interviewee, improvise during the interview and, as we had already seen, speak with a more comprehensive language for them.


Garbarski, D., Schaeffer, N. C., & Dykema, J. (2016). Interviewing Practices, Conversational Practices, and Rapport: Responsiveness and Engagement in the Standardized Survey Interview. Sociological Methodology, 46(1), 1-38.

Andrea Abonce, twitter: @andrea_abonce
Montserrat Gama, twitter: @ vaiviadame2
Elda Tello, twitter: @eldatellov
Jazmin Blancas, twitter: @hadaJazmine
Patricia Marín, twitter: @mr_patricia
Alejandro Herrera, twitter: @HerreraAlejando