What are the advantages and disadvantages of personal interview? (2023)

Advantages and disadvantages of interviews

This comprehensive article aims to assess the advantages and disadvantages of interviews in research and recruitment. There is no doubt that interview is often used by both researchers and recruiters for data collection and assessing suitable job applicants.

Definition of Interviews

According to Soanes (2002) an interview is a spoken examination of an applicant for a job or college place. According to Kahn and Cannell 1957, cited in Saunders et al. (2007) an interview is a purposeful discussion between two or more people. It involves two or more people exchanging information in the form of questions and answers.

Types of interviews

Both researchers and HR professionals use different types of interviews e.g. fully structured interviews, unstructured interviews, and semi-structured interviews.

In a structured interview, the interviewer presents each respondent with the same questions in the same order. On the other hand, semi structured interviews consist of both close-ended and open-ended questions. Unstructured interviews are called in-depth interview. In this type of interview, the researchers may have a checklist of topics to cover in questioning, but they are free to word such questions as the wish (BPP Learning Media, 2009).

Advantages and disadvantages of interviews in research

The use of interviews can help researchers collect valid and reliable data that are relevant to their research aims and objectives. However, interviews are not without some limitations.

Advantages of interviews in research

Interview is one of the most widely used methods of collecting primary data in qualitative research. By using it, researchers can collect qualitative and in-depth data. As many people say, the easiest way to get information from someone is simply to ask them!

Interview helps researchers understand the body language and facial expressions of the research respondents. It can also be very useful to understand their personal opinions, beliefs, and values.

Researchers can establish good rapport with research participants. This can make the latter feel comfortable and engaged in the process which should eventually generate very good responses.

Disadvantages of interviews in research

Interviews are time consuming. Each interview may consume a considerable amount of time. In addition, researchers need to collect responses, code and organise them, and finally analyse them for the final reporting purpose.

Interviews can produce biased responses. Interviewers and their view of the world may affect the responses of the interviewees.

Interviews can be expensive as well. For instance, to get the best responses from the participants, the researchers need to be skilful in conducting interviews. However, this may not be the case with many new researchers. Therefore, they may need to have some kind of training on how to conduct interviews. And training often costs a lot of money!

Advantages and disadvantages of interviews in recruitment

Hiring the right people for a business is a challenging task. Therefore, HR professionals often use a variety of techniques to attract and select the most suitable candidates. Interview is indeed one of those techniques.

HR professionals use different types of interviews. However, this article explores some of the advantages and disadvantages of interviews in general.

Advantages of interviews in recruitment

There are a number of advantages of interviews from the perspectives of both an applicant and a hiring organisation. For example:

Interviews allow job applicants to demonstrate practical evidence of their attributes. They can speak freely and describe their special skills that make them a good fit for the advertised position. They can also ask the interviewers questions about the job and the organisation. And finally, they can decide if they should take up the job.

On the other hand, interviews help employers assess an applicant’s abilities to do a job. Employers can provide applicants with more details pertaining to the job and the associated responsibilities. It is also an opportunity for them to give a positive impression of the company to the applicants (CIPD, 2013).

Disadvantages of interviews in recruitment

There are a number of disadvantages of interviews from the perspectives of both an applicant and an organisation. For example:

Interviews are sometimes difficult for some people. They may feel very uncomfortable and anxious which may lead to a poor performance in the interview. They may also be disappointed when they face irrelevant questions from the interviewers.

On the other hand, organisations face certain challenges too. For example, an interview alone may not be effective enough to select the best candidates. Likewise, organisations also need to spend a lot of time for the preparations of the interview. Interviews are generally expensive and there is a possibility that the interviewers may be biased in their assessment of the applicants.

We hope the article ‘Advantages and disadvantages of interviews’ has been helpful which has addressed interviews in two contexts i.e. ‘advantages and disadvantages of interviews in research’ and ‘advantages and disadvantages of interviews in recruitment’.

You may also like reading Advantages and disadvantages of focus groups. Other relevant articles for you are:

Differences between recruitment and selection

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Last update: 06 September 2021


BPP Learning Media (2009) Marketing, 1st edition, London: BPP Learning Media

CIPD (2013) Recruitment: an overview, Available from http://www.cipd.co.uk/hrresources/factsheets (Accessed 01 February 2014)

Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2007) Research Methods for Business Students, 4th edition, UK: Pearson Education Limited

Soanes, K. (2002) Pocket Oxford English Dictionary, 9th edition, New York: OUP

M Rahman writes extensively online with an emphasis on business management, marketing, and tourism. He is a lecturer in Management and Marketing. He holds an MSc in Tourism & Hospitality from the University of Sunderland. Also, graduated from Leeds Metropolitan University with a BA in Business & Management Studies and completed a DTLLS (Diploma in Teaching in the Life-Long Learning Sector) from London South Bank University.

Approaching the Respondent- according to the Interviewer’s Manual, the introductory tasks of the interviewer are: tell the interviewer is and whom he or she represents; telling him about what the study is, in a way to stimulate his interest. The interviewer has also ensured at this stage that his answers are confidential; tell the respondent how he was chosen; use letters and clippings of surveys in order to show the importance of the study to the respondent. The interviewer must be adaptable, friendly, responsive, and should make the interviewer feel at ease to say anything, even if it is irrelevant.

Dealing with Refusal- there can be plenty of reasons for refusing for an interview, for example, a respondent may feel that surveys are a waste of time, or may express anti-government feeling. It is the interviewer’s job to determine the reason for the refusal of the interview and attempt to overcome it.

Conducting the Interview- the questions should be asked as worded for all respondents in order to avoid misinterpretation of the question. Clarification of the question should also be avoided for the same reason. However, the questions can be repeated in case of misunderstanding. The questions should be asked in the same order as mentioned in the questionnaire, as a particular question might not make sense if the questions before they are skipped. The interviewers must be very careful to be neutral before starting the interview so as not to lead the respondent, hence minimizing bias.

listing out the advantages of interview studies, which are noted below:

  • It provides flexibility to the interviewers
  • The interview has a better response rate than mailed questions, and the people who cannot read and write can also answer the questions.
  • The interviewer can judge the non-verbal behavior of the respondent.
  • The interviewer can decide the place for an interview in a private and silent place, unlike the ones conducted through emails which can have a completely different environment.
  • The interviewer can control over the order of the question, as in the questionnaire, and can judge the spontaneity of the respondent as well.

There are certain disadvantages of interview studies as well which are:

  • Conducting interview studies can be very costly as well as very time-consuming.
  • An interview can cause biases. For example, the respondent’s answers can be affected by his reaction to the interviewer’s race, class, age or physical appearance.
  • Interview studies provide less anonymity, which is a big concern for many respondents.
  • There is a lack of accessibility to respondents (unlike conducting mailed questionnaire study) since the respondents can be in around any corner of the world or country.


The interview subjects to the same rules and regulations of other instances of social interaction. It is believed that conducting interview studies has possibilities for all sorts of bias, inconsistency, and inaccuracies and hence many researchers are critical of the surveys and interviews. T.R. William says that in certain societies there may be patterns of people saying one thing, but doing another. He also believes that the responses should be interpreted in context and two social contexts should not be compared to each other. Derek L. Phillips says that the survey method itself can manipulate the data, and show the results that actually does not exist in the population in real. Social research becomes very difficult due to the variability in human behavior and attitude. Other errors that can be caused in social research include-

  • deliberate lying, because the respondent does not want to give a socially undesirable answer;
  • unconscious mistakes, which mostly occurs when the respondent has socially undesirable traits that he does not want to accept;
  • when the respondent accidentally misunderstands the question and responds incorrectly;
  • when the respondent is unable to remember certain details.

Apart from the errors caused by the responder, there are also certain errors made by the interviewers that may include-

  • errors made by altering the questionnaire, through changing some words or omitting certain questions;
  • biased, irrelevant, inadequate or unnecessary probing;
  • recording errors, or consciously making errors in recording.


Bailey, K. (1994). Interview Studies in Methods of social research. Simonand Schuster, 4th
ed. The Free Press, New York NY 10020.Ch8. Pp.173-213.

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