Strategies for Conducting Elite Interviews

Qualitative Research, Forthcoming

20 Pages Posted: 17 Jun 2011 Last revised: 30 Oct 2012

See all articles by William S. Harvey

William S. Harvey

University of Exeter Business School

Date Written: 2011


This paper addresses some strategies for conducting elite interviews. It draws upon material from a significant number of interviews that the author has conducted with this group in a variety of economic sectors and countries, as well as from the social sciences literature on elites. The aim of the paper is to provide insights into the particularities of interviewing elites for those new to researching this group. In particular, it focuses on gaining trust and gauging the tone of the interview, how to present oneself during the interview, asking open and closed questions, the appropriate length of an interview, whether to record the conversation, coping with difficult scenarios, asking awkward questions, managing respondents who do not answer the question, keeping respondents interested in the interview and finally gaining feedback from respondents.

Keywords: Elites, interviewing, qualitative methods

Suggested Citation

Harvey, William S., Strategies for Conducting Elite Interviews (2011). Qualitative Research, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

William S. Harvey (Contact Author)

University of Exeter Business School ( email )

Rennes Drive
Exeter, EX4 4PU
United Kingdom


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