Stakeholder interviews

Interview is a purposeful conversation between two or more people, requiring the interviewer to establish rapport and ask concise and unambiguous questions, to which the interviewee (the informant) is willing to respond, and to listen attentively. Interviews allow to gain insights into habits, attitudes, opinions, needs, etc. Interviews are usually conducted face-to-face, via telephone or videoconferencing. Occasionally, interviews may be conducted in writing.

Interviews may be highly formalised and structured, using standardised questions for each informant (structured interviews), or they may be informal and unstructured conversations (unstructured or in-depth interviews). In between there are intermediate positions depending on the level of formality and structure used (semi-structured interviews) (Saunders et al., 2016)

Basic Information on the Method
Mode of communication
Face-to-face, Both
Group size
1-5, 6-30
Geographical scale
Public space, Neighbourhood, City, Region
Skills required
Average, Advanced
Resources needed
Level of Involvement
Level of involvement
Type of knowledge enabled
Divergence (Small groups)
Additional Criteria
Planning phase
Initiatiion, Planning & Design, Evaluation & Research, Maintenance
Methodological approach

How to use the method

  1. Decide, what kind of information do you need and who is able (and willing) to provide it.
  2. Prepare interview questions. The type of questions depends on the nature of the interview. For structured interviews questions may be closed-ended (e.g. “yes/no”, multiple-choice, rating scale, rank order, checklist), like in a Questionnaire. For semi-structured interviews questions should be open, encouraging interviewees to share their opinions and experiences (e.g., beginning with “how?”, “what?”, “why?”). Proceed from general questions to specific ones. The interview length for for a semi-structured interview is recommended within 45-60 min.
  3. Contact potential interviewees, tell them about the aims, topic and length of the interview, ask if they are willing to share their thoughts face-to-face or in a video/phone call. Agree on the time and place of the interview. Note, that formal research procedures require that interviewees are informed about the possible benefits and disadvantages of taking part in the interviews, and have given a written consent to be interviewed, as well as record and use the information they provided.
  4. The interview. Start with briefly introducing yourself and the aims of the interview. Go through the questions considering the answers received earlier. Observe the body language and tone. Make notes, to remember ideas / questions, that you want to specify during the interview. Nowadays, the interviews are usually audio or video recorded, therefore there is no need to write down the answers.
  5. Transcribe the interview or make a summary of the interview. In formal research the interviews are usually transcribed word to word and coded (fragmented and reorganised into themes and categories). The latter requires certain training in preparing, conducting and analysing the interviews (thematic analysis).

Evaluate the results: what kind of information was expected and what was received, what changed based on the information received.

What are the outcomes

Rich and multifaceted data about attitudes, values, opinions, as well as rationale behind them.

Skills required

Skills required from participants - Average, Advanced

  • The interviewees should have sufficient knowledge about the topic of the interview. E.g. if you want to get experiential information about the neighbourhood, you should approach people, who live in the area or actively use it.

Resources needed

Resources - Medium

  • The resources vary depending on the number of interviewees and the depth of the interviews
  • On average it takes a week to prepare and revise questions, identify and contact potential interviewees; one or two weeks to conduct the interviews; one or two months to transcribe and analyse the interviews
  • Notebook and pen
  • Voice recorder or video camera
  • It is advisable to hire a trained researcher to prepare, conduct and analyse the interviews

Strengths and weaknesses

  • Encourage two-way communication, where the informants can ask questions to the interviewers
  • Provides not just the answers, but reasons for the answers
  • Allows informants to express themselves in their own words
  • In individual interviews the informants can reveal and discuss sensitive topics
  • Can provide input for the quantitative survey
  • Questions should be carefully worded, to avoid prescriptive or leading questions
  • Requires thematic analysis skills, to avoid subjective interpretation of the informant’s answers by the interviewer
  • Requires 20-30 interviews to shape the multifaceted understanding about the phenomenon in focus
  • Confidentiality is a must

Use cases

Ex-ante evaluation of civic engagement in developing detailed plans for Mežaparks, Riga, 2010-2013, and Tallinn, Estonia, 2003-2016

The researchers interviewed key stakeholders, involved in the development of plans, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the established participatory practices. Among the informants there were representatives of neighbourhood associations, city and private urban planners and architects, developers, property owners and managers. The interviews illuminated the discrepancies in positions and perspectives of the aforementioned stakeholders towards urban planning and participation, which stemmed from their past experiences and current decision-making capacities (Prilenska et al., 2020).

Try one of these tools & resources

  1. Keller S. & Konradin K. (2020) Semi-Structured Interviews. Available at:
  2. Prilenska V., Paadam K. & Liias R. (2020) Challenges of civic engagement in the (post-socialist) transitional society: experiences from waterfront urban areas Mezapark in Riga and Kalarand in Tallinn. Journal of Architecture and Urbanism, 44 (2), 109-121.
  3. Saunders M., Lewis P. & Thornhill A. (2016) Research Methods for Business Students. Seventh edition. Harlow, England: Pearson Education Limited.
  4. Vilela M. (1994-2021) Section 12. Conducting interviews. Available at: