Example Research Instrument: Interview Protocol for Project Management Study

Appendix A: Interview Protocol

NOTE: This is an actual research protocol. If you use this as a base for your own protocol, make sure that you change it appropriately. 

My notes to you are highlighted in yellow.

Things you'll need to change are highlighted in green.

Overview of Project

  • Introduce self

  • Describe project and goals

  • Describe eventual product: a report discussing how knowledge workers manage their projects

  • Describe eventual benefits: Improved curriculum at UT, improved understanding of project management in rapidly changing organizations.

Explain consent form and have them sign.

Interviews will be audio- or videotaped. 

Interviews may include walkthroughs to explore aspects of work that were not demonstrated during the observations.

Interviews will be semi-structured around a list of concerns. The questions listed below are representative of the ones we will ask, but we expect other questions to emerge during the course of the interviews.

NOTE: My study involved pre- and post-observation interviews for workers as well as an interview with managers. If your study only involves one group and one kind of interview, adjust appropriately.

Also, notice that interview questions are related to the specific research questions in my research proposal. Make sure your research questions guide your interviews too. 

Finally, make sure that your questions touch on all three levels of analysis: macro (the why of the activity); meso (how they perform their actions); and micro (what second-by-second operations they use).

Manager Interview Questions

  • How do people in your organization manage projects? What tools and texts do they use?
  • What current problems do you see with project management in your organization? What are your plans for addressing them?
  • How, and to what extent, do your team members collaborate in management? For instance, to what degree do they shape objectives, set milestones, and determine processes and delegation?
  • How, and to what extent, do your team members share information?
  • What project management training have they received?
  • How has project management changed in your organization over the last few years? How do you expect it to change in the near term?

Pre-Observation Interview Questions

  • What is your job history? Could you tell us about the sorts of jobs you have held beyond this one?
  • What is your academic background? Could you tell us a bit about your educational experience?

  • How would you describe your current job? What are your most important duties or activities?

  • What team or teams do you work in? Can you describe your current project?
  • How does this team manage this project (e.g., objectives, milestones, delegation)? What tools and texts do they use? 
  • How does your team share information? To what extent?
  • What training have you received in teamwork and project management?
  • How has project management changed in your organization?

Post-Observation Interview Questions

  • We noticed that some of your activities included (list from observation). How did you learn how to deal with these project-related duties and activities?
  • Would you say that this was a typical day? Tell us about where you are in this project.

  • We noticed that you (observation about how they communicate within their temporary networks). Could you tell us a bit about the ways that you communicate with clients, vendors, subcontractors, and others?

  • These projects tend to be pretty complex, with a lot of things to coordinate. We noticed that you (observation about time and project management). Could you talk a bit about how you manage your time and projects?
  • We also noticed that you (observation about working with others). To make these projects successful, do you need to know much about the work of clients, vendors, subcontractors, and others? If so, how do you learn about their work?
  • Do you tend to work frequently with the same vendors or subcontractors? How do you maintain those relationships?
  • Where do you see your business or unit five years from now? What are your goals? Do you see projects like this one contributing to those long-term goals?