Interview etiquette

Interviews might seem simple to execute, but you need to do some work to get them right.

Start with who you are

Make a connection with the stakeholder and introduce yourself. Tell them:

  • What you’ll do with the data

  • What it’s for (e.g. will it inform a report, will this report be published)

  • Whether or not what they say will be anonymous (and if not, how they will approve your use of the data)

  • How long the interview will take

  • Whether or not the interview will be recorded - you must always ask for their consent

  • That they have the right to stop the interview at any time

Structured, semi-structured or unstructured?

There are different benefits from your interview approach. A structured interview relies on predefined questions, and you will ask these questions in a fairly strict manner, almost as if you are reading out and completing a questionnaire. In a semi-structured interview, you may have predefined questions, but the approach will be more conversational. In an unstructured interview, you can be more spontaneous in your questioning. 

What questions do I ask?

You can use the Change Pathway and ask questions relating directly to indicators you prioritised. Unstructured interviews, for the purposes of your impact assessment, may not be the most useful approach as this is something most commonly used in preliminary research (where you are not investigating specific change). Think ahead to how you want to use the results of the interviews. What data do you need? How might you get it in an ethical and non-leading way?


Have a look at Europeana’s question bank for interview questions, too.


We recommend that you keep your interviews informal and enjoyable. You and the interviewee will enjoy the process much more and, in our experience, you’ll learn much more if the interviewee feels that it’s an open and respectful setting.

Avoid leading questions 

It might sound obvious, but don’t lead your interviewee into positions where you encourage them to agree with you. If they don’t answer a question, think about how you might ask it in a different way, but don’t push the subject.

Don’t forget to look out for unexpected outcomes

You might find something unexpected. This is a great opportunity to learn more about the impact of your work for your stakeholder! Ask your interviewee to explain their point of view.


Some simple questions that have brought out some interesting perspectives for us include:

  • What was the biggest success/challenge for you? 

  • Is there anything else you want to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Next steps