What Is a Narrative Interview Report?

by Catherine Capozzi; Updated September 26, 2017
Manager reviewing performance of pleased workers job

A line graph might be beneficial in revealing past and future trends, but a narrative interview report has the power to tell a story in the way quantitative charts cannot. This type of report gives a personal, in-depth explanation of a current situation from a person directly involved in the situation at hand. Personal narrative reports have several uses that depend on the industry.

Features

A narrative interview report summarizes the subject’s responses of given questions. Timothy R. Lee, author of “A Reviewer’s Handbook to Business Valuation,” explains that effective reports start with the interviewer asking general questions of the business landscape and opportunities, followed by narrow questions based on those answers. Interviewing the necessary person in a suitable environment is also a critical component to the narrative: The space should be free of distractions, the subject’s voice must be heard clearly and she should be a cooperative subject to yield the most telling results.

Report Structure

A narrative interview report starts with an introduction describing the subject’s background. Such information lists qualifications including her education, gender age, location and current profession. The introduction also describes the time and location of the interview. Some narrative reports require including a transcript of the conversation, particularly interviews with victims or witnesses of a critical event. Others, such as reports with management teams and employees, require the interviewer to simply paraphrase the narrative. In this section of the report, the interviewer does not inject personal opinions of the statements made. After the summary, the report may include suggestions on how to use the findings of the interview. For instance, an interview with a tech manager could highlight ways for the company to better encrypt its own database. Thus, the conclusion of the report sometimes includes recommendations and insights of the interview.

Significance

A narrative report expresses characteristics that are difficult to quantify, such as personal attitudes, mantras and specific details. Such reports may also help the business formulate innovative solutions. For instance, a narrative report detailing a user’s experience with company software may indicate that the tabs should be rearranged or the help feature should be more user-friendly. Such insights are often only gleaned by asking for open-ended feedback. These reports are also invaluable tools for writing case studies on businesses. By collecting individual reports of events and circumstances, the author gains insight on corporate culture, attitudes and morale. Candida Brush, author of “Growth-Oriented Entrepreneurs and their Business,” explains that a narrative report provides greater insight on little-known subjects, such as a woman’s experience as a business owner.

Considerations

Narrative interview reports run the risk of being biased. One person’s insights do not necessarily reflect the experiences of many. Likewise, interviewing only a company’s management team may produce a much more positive image than the reality of the situation. Thus, these reports are best used with quantitative data supporting the assertions made in the report. For instance, if quantitative surveys reveal that the majority of survey-taking customers hate a new line of chocolate bars, then narrative reports detailing the reasons for the disdain are beneficial.

About the Author

Since 2008 Catherine Capozzi has been writing business, finance and economics-related articles from her home in the sunny state of Arizona. She is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in economics from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, which has given her a love of spreadsheets and corporate life.

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