Transitioning from scientific research into a world of business and market-related qualitative research was a very defining and enlightening step in my career. Given many opportunities to learn by example from my experienced colleagues, there was still the inevitable “push into the deep end of the pool and swim” moment. While my comfortability and success with interviewing has significantly improved, the learning curve was sharp and continues. Even the most seasoned interviewers learn from their own research experiences throughout their career. If you aren’t learning, you aren’t growing.
I have found there to be many translatable skills that allow a quantitative mind to think qualitatively, and vice versa. A few that come to mind are attention to detail, persistence, and investment. Below I share some pivotal lessons and learnings I have gathered from my peers and experience conducting qualitative research.
- Take advantage of opportunities in the discussion to double or even triple click and “mine” for even more data from the conversation. Know the objectives and hypotheses.
- Consider not only themes in what is said, but themes in who said what. Take advantage of both latent and observed factors.
- Contextualize numbers to meaning. Everyone’s internal satisfaction scale differs, so define those differences. The “why” behind the rating is the quantitative and qualitative equalizer.
- Most vocal does not imply most valuable. Constructive feedback, in the spirit of continuous improvement, is valuable to all.
- All success stories matter – some of the biggest critics can become the biggest advocates.
How has your career background impacted the way you work or think in your current position? Have your past career/education experiences (good, bad, or indifferent) affected your career trajectory significantly? What are your takeaways or tips for qualitative research approach?
Leave a comment on LinkedIn or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your lessons and tips!
-Leah McQuillan, Research Manager