Moderator Check List to Conduct Focus Groups or Depth Interviews

Here is a checklist to conduct focus groups or depth interviews for qualitative marketing research.

Conducting a focus group or depth interview is easy and fun if you are prepared and know your craft.

  • Write and rehearse your moderator guide. Know it well.
  • Relax, and get respondents to relax.
  • Get cooperation from respondents by showing respect to them.
  • Start building rapport when you first meet your respondents.
  • Always start an interview with an introduction. Tell respondents what you and they will be doing. Do not skip the introduction. Respondents want to know what is happening. The introduction builds rapport.
  • Use your first topic to introduce the general subject. The first topic also builds rapport. Make questions easy.
  • Get discussions flowing.
  • Ask broad open-ended questions. Then specific questions
  • Dig below top-of-the-mind answers. Find out why and how.
  • Ask. Listen. Ask. Follow-up, probe, and prompt.
  • Remain neutral. Minimize bias. Don’t judge answers. Don’t give your opinion.
  • Cover your primary topics. Stay on track.
  • Keep track of time, when running focus groups or interviews.
  • Close the focus group or depth interview. Ask what is most important. Ask what was missed in the conversation. Thank respondents.
  • Learn from your recordings and transcripts. Learn from your mistakes.
  • Master moderating through practice. Learn moderating skills, and hone them until you feel comfortable.
  • Master the basics first. Then learn advanced techniques, such as laddering and projective techniques.
  • Practice moderating at every opportunity. Depth interview often…friends, family, colleagues, and strangers. Then practice groups. Just do it.
  • Try different moderating methods: face-to-face, online focus groups, and telephone depth interviews.
  • A qualitative research coach speeds up learning and improvement. Find a mentor, coach, or someone who can critique your performance and help you improve.

Use this checklist and tips for conducting focus groups or depth interviews.

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