From the desk of Natanya Rubin
Qualitative webcam interviews are an exciting opportunity to see a respondent in her native habitat, but there are plenty of tech pitfalls that can make that time less rewarding. Here are some of the best practices that we and our platform partners employ to make sure the interview goes well:
The tech check is key. We always recommend scheduling a live tech check prior to the interview, rather than relying on the respondent to complete an automated one. This allows a technician to connect personally with the respondent to test bandwidth in the area where the respondent will do the interview, work with them to confirm that their audio functions well, and help them adjust their lighting (see below for more on both topics).
Separate audio and video allows for flexibility, should something go wrong. Although advances in VOIP stability and clarity make it tempting to have both video and audio run through the respondent’s computer, we recommend that the audio for the qualitative interview be done through the respondent’s phone line. That way, if the respondent’s internet is spotty and happens to go down during the interview (which sometimes happens despite best efforts to vet bandwidth in advance), the interview can still be salvaged using the separate audio. During the tech check, we also instruct respondents to make sure their phones are charged and that the power cord is within reach, to ensure that there are no interruptions to the audio.
Lighting is a make or break proposition. Ensuring good lighting is critical to the success of a qualitative webcam interview. If the respondent is just a dark, backlit mass, it’s hard to read emotion or see details of their space. During the tech check, we often help respondents adjust their lighting set-up by asking them to grab a desk or table lamp to get light on their faces, while closing drapes or turning off the lights behind them so they’re not silhouetted. Then, on the day of the interview, they’re ready to be seen!
By preparing the respondent for the interview through a live tech check, separating audio and video as a safety net against bandwidth issues, and guiding the respondent to be sure they can be seen on-screen, Doyle Research ensures that each qualitative webcam interview is both technically seamless and rich in insights.