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Key Informant Interviews: A Method for Conducting a Needs Assessment

Filed Under:
Publication Number: P3969
View as PDF: P3969.pdf


Consists of conducting in-depth interviews of around 15–35 selected individuals with firsthand information on a specific topic

How to use

  1. Prepare study questions
  2. Prepare the interview guide
  3. Select the key informants
  4. Conduct the interviews
  5. Take detailed notes
  6. Analyze and verify the data

Sample Questions

  • What is the problem/issue that needs to be addressed?
  • What is the current state of the problem/issue and those involved?
  • Whose interests are at stake?
  • What do the stakeholders think about the problem/issue, its causes, and possible solutions?

Use When

  • Descriptive information and perspective of stakeholders is needed
  • Quantitative data from other methods need to be interpreted
  • Preliminary information is needed to develop a quantitative study


  • Knowledgeable people are the source of information
  • Allows for the discussion of new ideas/issues
  • Easy and inexpensive


  • Provides qualitative data only
  • Improper selection of interviewers may lead to bias
  • Hard to prove validity


Lokot, M. (2021). Whose voices? Whose knowledge? A feminist analysis of the value of key informant interviews. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 20(1-8).

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (n.d.). Questions to guide a needs assessment.

USAID Center for Development Information and Evaluation. (1996). Conducting key informant interviews: Performance monitoring & evaluation TIPS.


The information given here is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products, trade names, or suppliers are made with the understanding that no endorsement is implied and that no discrimination against other products or suppliers is intended.

Publication 3969 (POD-02-24)

By Patricia Marie Cordero-Irizarry, Doctoral Student, Agricultural and Extension Education, and Donna J. Peterson, PhD, Extension Professor, Human Sciences.

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