Evaluation Focus Groups and Interviews

WPREU use focus groups, group and individual interviews to aid their research and evaluation. This page provides guidance for those wanting to use these methods.

Why use an interview?

Group and individual interviews involve a backwards and forwards conversation between the interviewer and interviewee(s).

Why use a focus group?

Focus group generates its own discussion and can provide a clearer insight into how the group actually feels about things. Focus groups can provide ideas for further more developed research (or interviews).

Recruiting for your focus group / interviews

• Over recruit by about 10-20% to allow for no shows
• Balance: too much similarity limits discussion, too much difference could lead to individuals not contributing
• Send reminders a few times before the event.

Before and during the focus group / interview

• Have an interview / focus group guide so that to help guide you. Use prompt questions when necessary, but try not to lead interviewees
• Make sure the room you are in is quiet, comfortable and that you won’t be interrupted.
• Know how you will deal with latecomers – possibly leave a few spare chairs
• Make sure that participants are clear about the purpose of the group and how you will use the outcomes
• Check whether you need Research Ethics Approval
• Inform participants about any recording, what it will be used for and when it will be deleted
• Allow pauses in the conversation. Do not feel the need to fill them
• It’s a good idea to provide refreshments


• If you're doing more than two sessions, consider using a transcription service as typing up recordings is very time-consuming

Analysing outcomes

• How you approach this depends on how much data you have and the purpose of your interview / focus group(s).
• For a small number of interviews / focus groups and for some topics it may be enough to extract the key quotations
• You may consider using NVivo for large amounts of data to code, group and analyse responses into particular categories.