So You Really Want to Interview Me?: Navigating “Sensitive” Qualitative Research Interviewing


  • Winsome Chunnu Brayda Ohio University
  • Travis D. Boyce University of Northern Colorado


This article discusses the qualitative interviewing techniques that the authors used to conduct their respective dissertation research in Jamaica and South Carolina. (The research in Jamaica examined the implementation of primary education policies. The research in South Carolina delved into the life history of Benner C. Turner, a controversial college president.) Most of the literature about interviewing focuses on asking the right questions. In contrast, this article discusses the challenges of interviewing. In this article, selected interviews are used from both studies to examine the difficulties these researchers encountered when conducting “sensitive” interviews, the risks female researchers face in unfamiliar places, and the challenges of working in international settings (which requires interpersonal skills and cultural competency). While the task of research interviewing is complex, the authors provide ideas that can be used to navigate such moments.

Author Biographies

Winsome Chunnu Brayda, Ohio University

Associate Director, Multicultural Center

Travis D. Boyce, University of Northern Colorado

Associate Professor, Africana Studies