Executive interviews are one on one interviews either over the phone or in-person. These interviews are with key decision makers in an organization that have insights with the subject matter at hand. This approach is particularly useful in situations where the number of players in a market you are trying to understand is relatively small, these players have great influence over the success of your product or service and where in-depth insights are required.
Examples of Where Executive Interviews are Useful
For example, if a business requires distributors or retail chains to get their products or services to a large number of consumers and these middlemen influence what products or services are offered to consumers and how these products or services are offered within the distribution channel than executive interviews are a very effective means to gain insights to ensure your product or service is successful.
Another example where executive interviews are very useful is where the consumer of the product or service is a small number of businesses or other organizations such as in B2B markets.
Executive interviews are also very useful where external influencers such as government agencies, including advisory services and regulators, and other organizations have significant influence on the success of your product or service.
Why Use an Outside Company
You might ask why people in your own organization, for example sales personnel, in their day to day dealings with the organization either know the answers to questions or can find it out by talking with these people. There are four main reasons to use an outside third party to conduct the interviews rather than using people in your own organization.
- Interviewee Bias – Answers to questions from those being interviewed provides better insights when the interviewee is most open and honest with the interviewer. To this end anonymity of the research company either for a portion or the entirety of the interview is necessary to prevent bias. For example, let’s say a company wants to find out the ideal kind of sales support for a product or service and the interview is being conducted by the sales person. The executive being interviewed may not answer the sales person in a way that may be considered critical of the sales person. If the relationship between the executive’s company and company doing the research is symbiotic they may also be strategic in their answers to seek a certain outcome or to avoid a conflict. They may not also reveal insights about the researching company’s competitors for fear of repercussions.
- Interview Bias – The person conducting the interview must focus on objectivity and not bring their own bias to the interview, both the type and phrasing of questions posed, but also how answers are interpreted and reported.
- Questioning Skills – Each interview must have a pre-established guide as to the flow of the interview. This guide must meet the information needs of the researching company, the phrasing of the questions to prevent bias as well as the probing skills of the interviewer to unearth insights that are underlie answers to previous questions.
- Professional Reporting – Although their maybe interview notes or even transcriptions or recording of the interview it should be up to the executive to determine if they want their anonymity protected. If the company wants the specifics of who said what, then the interviewee should be advised before the interview. Most company’s want a synopsis of all the interviews and what it means strategically with regard to their products or services. This is best accomplished by having the same interviewee conduct all the interviews for consistency in approach, ask questions or probe in certain areas that came up in other interviews. Furthermore, the person doing the interviews should write the summary report and present the findings so that the company paying for the research can ask questions about the interviews and get credible in-depth answers.