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Managing challenging interviews

Managing challenging interviews
Explore the key issues in planning and conducting qualitative interviews with vulnerable participants or with challenging dynamics. (NatCen trainers)


This one day course is designed to explore the key issues in planning and conducting qualitative interviews with vulnerable participants or where challenging dynamics might be encountered. As well as providing insight from the trainers’ own experiences, the course aims to offer a forum where participants can discuss their own studies and reflect on these issues away from the hectic day-to-day experience of carrying out applied research.  The course will be delivered through a mix of taught and practical sessions by qualitative researchers from NatCen who have extensive experience of conducting in-depth interviews for complex qualitative studies.




By the end of the course, participants will:

  • Be able to identify the factors that affect how vulnerable research participants might be;
  • Be able to identify the potential risks to participants and researchers and develop strategies for managing these risks;
  • Have a greater awareness and understanding of strategies to manage challenging interview dynamics; and
  • Have experience in managing these dynamics.




  • How to assess and manage vulnerability and risk throughout the life of a research project (taught and practical sessions);
  • A brief overview of the principles of qualitative interviewing; and
  • Strategies for managing challenging interviews (taught, demo and practical sessions).


Who will benefit?


You will find this course useful if you:

  • Are an experienced qualitative researcher who wants to learn new skills in conducting interviews with vulnerable participants or to broaden or refresh your existing skills;
  • Are experienced in conducting challenging qualitative interviews but would like an opportunity to discuss any issues arising with other researchers;
  • Commission or manage qualitative research in central or local government, health or other applied policy sectors and need to understand the issues involved in conducting research with vulnerable or hard to reach participants.


This course assumes an understanding of the principles of qualitative research and experience of having conducted qualitative research interviews.


Course tutors


Ellie Roberts is a Research Director in NatCen’s Crime and Justice Team and has extensive experience managing and delivering research and complex evaluations on a range of sensitive subjects.  She specialises in qualitative research and has interests which span areas such as prison reform, rehabilitation, substance misuse, poverty and inequality. Ellie is highly experienced in qualitative methodologies including depth interviews and focus groups which she has undertaken with a wide range of participant groups, including offenders and victims. She currently leads two large-scale qualitative process evaluations for the Ministry of Justice on prison reform and GPS tagging and an evaluation of an alcohol monitoring tagging pilot for the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.  She has also recently completed projects on a through-the-gate substance misuse pilot, family courts, extremism and organised crime.

Before joining NatCen in 2014, Ellie held research posts at Community Links and the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (now the Learning and Work Institute).

Jane Kerr is a Senior Researcher in NatCen's Crime and Justice team, where she specialises in carrying out qualitative research with victims, offenders and criminal justice professionals. She also has expertise in research on gambling behaviour and money management. Before joining NatCen in 2003, Jane read Human Communication at Manchester University before completing a MA in Social Anthropology at Durham University.

Course fee payable to SRA.


This course contributes 6 hours to the MRS CPD programme

11/10/2020 9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
GMT Standard Time
NatCen Social Research 35 Northampton Square LONDON EC1V 0AX UNITED KINGDOM
Online registration not available.

You need to sign in or create a new user account before booking.