Table 6

Probing techniques for semistructured interviews (modified from Bernard30)

Probing techniqueDescriptionExample
Wait timeInterviewer remains silent after asking a question. This allows the interviewee to think about their response and often encourages the interviewee to speak. What do you think pregnant women should do for exercise during pregnancy? (Wait, do not respond with additional questioning until participant speaks)
EchoInterviewer repeats or summarises the participant’s words, encouraging them to go into more detail. Right, so it was hard to exercise after working all day.
Verbal agreementInterviewer uses affirming words to encourage the interviewee to continue speaking. Yes…
ExpansionInterviewer asks participant to elaborate on a particular response. Tell me more.
Give me an example of that.
Can you describe that?
ExplanationInterviewer asks participant to clarify a specific comment. Tell me what you mean when you say exercise is ‘disruptive’?
LeadingInterviewer asks interviewee to explain their reasoning. You said that you decided to only exercise after the baby is born. Tell me how you came to that decision.