Why you should be doing Tele-depth interviewing

By Hayley Fothergill, Qualitative Research Manager

Although the current environment creates an immediate need to rethink how we use communication tools, agile working models are no longer the sole preserve of the tech sector as more and more businesses have embraced remote and agile working over the last few years.  Tele-depth and video conference interviewing is an excellent option for professional firms looking to scale their client feedback and other research initiatives, as well as allowing clients more flexibility to fit time into their schedule, and it is often preferable to longer in-person meetings.

Staying close to clients and their changing needs is never more critical than during times of greater uncertainty.

What are the benefits overall?

It is a less time-intensive process, not only as it removes the need to coordinate with clients’ packed schedules and travel to in-person sessions, but also as tele-depth interviews tend to be more concise and focused conversations (generally lasting around 30 minutes, compared to an in person interview which can last up to an hour). This all contributes to making the tele-depth approach more cost-effective, and therefore more achievable to connect with a broader range of clients – including those that are less geographically close.

How can you best manage the client experience?

The golden rule in all interviewing is to create the best possible client experience: for tele-depth interviewing, this should involve rigorous testing of your hardware and software to eliminate frustrations around audio quality and the ease of joining calls. Make sure as well to use an option that allows you to record the interview – this can remove the pressure to take detailed notes during the call and stay present in the conversation, and the vast majority of clients are happy for calls to be recorded so long as the purpose for doing so is made clear at the start of the interview.

What skills are needed?

Lacking visual clues from the client (e.g. body language) amplifies the need for top-rate communication skills when conducting tele-depth interviews. Examples would include:

  • Active listening – this is critical in telephone interviews to demonstrate engagement on your side and encourage clients to open-up further. You should follow the client’s lead in building on the topics that seem most important to them and generating the feel of a good conversation rather than an ‘interview.’
  • Building trust and rapport – though timing is more pressed during tele-depth interviewing, you should not scrimp on how you position the conversation at the outset. Take time to fully articulate the purpose of the call and how it will benefit both sides of the relationship. You can also put clients at ease by being completely transparent about how and with whom you will share the interview content, as well as setting expectations around follow up.
  • Managing time – if you’re working with 30 minutes of time, it’s important to prioritise the questions that can derive most value for you, as well as being totally familiar with your question set so as to guide clients through the interview and touch on all the areas you intend to cover. Maintaining a consistent approach is the biggest weakness Acritas sees in firm-led research initiatives, so client listeners need to work together to ensure they are capturing data that can deliver meaningful insight when analysed together.


Acritas offers professional client listening training, in-person and or remotely which is designed to support client listeners, at Partner or BD-level to maximise the effectiveness of their client conversations. We can also support with every stage of your research initiative, from supporting with set up and question design, to interviewing and analysing and interpreting your insights.


Contact Us


Hayley Fothergill at hfothergill@acritas.com or +44(0) 808 178 3020


Jen Dezso at jdezso@acritas.com or +1(646) 759 8399

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