Researchers often ask participants a set of questions in interviews and focus groups. The questions are written in a document called an interview schedule. This page is to help researchers write interview schedules.
Top 5 tips for writing an interview schedule
- Create structure. Explain how the interview session will work. Ask overarching topic questions that give people a chance to tell their story in their own words. Some autistic people find open ended questions difficult to answer so also include optional, more specific, prompt questions.
- Share in advance. Where possible, give participants a copy of the interview schedule in advance so they can prepare but let them know the schedule is a guide only and some other questions might come up.
- Consider the format. Some autistic people might find either 1-to-1 interviews or focus groups daunting so consider the format of your interview, for instance, is it possible to do the interview somewhere that the interviewee is more comfortable (e.g., on a trampoline, walking outside) or via a preferred medium (e.g., text chat, a video call)?
- Avoid indirect language. Don't use sarcasm or metaphor.
- Allow processing time. Give participants enough time to answer questions, this might involve allowing moments of silence between questions or asking participants to add anything they think is important but wasn’t covered in the questions.