I received a number of questions (both from email, blog and person i met at school) on the 'pilot study' which i had conducted recently with the representatives from Taylor Woodrow and CORUS. I am not an expert in research methodology but here i would like to share some of my experiences during the study. I hope it will be helpful to the viewers:
1. First, you need decide the aim of the pilot study and which methodologies that suit your study (epistemology and ontology). Sometime, you should consider both qualitative and quantitative. Please do not role out the possibility of doing qualitative and unstructured interview. The question generated from the literature must be specific, focus and have the ability to validate points and arguments from the literature.
2. I had to warn you now.. the interview session may not actually in very good and supportive environment. Please do not expect the interviewee to be helpful. The interviewee sometimes had a bad day or normally they got very busy with their job . In my case, they are not giving me an easy afternoon. They keep asking me, what shall they get from the research or in the matter of worse why shall they care about my question. So, it is important for you to try to grab his/her attention (ask them about their achievement and experience. I googled their profile trough net a day before) or you need your supervisor to become the discussion moderator. I'm very fortunate because my supervisor is very helpful on that day and play his role as moderator.
3. Try to be flexible and fully prepared. In my case, i am actually ready with a set of question for structured interview but during the interview session, they had decided to have some informal chat about this topic and i need to extract main issues from the discussion and practically involve into the discussion. Therefore, you need to be ready to generate the next questions based on the answer given by the interviewee and keep focus on your topic. Other than that, you need to be fully aware of the topic (because the information regarding of your topic is wide and sometime in practical they use different term e.g IBS and off-site construction or KM and Innovation Management or Idea Management). It also important for you to be fully involve and contribute in the discussion.
4. Take your time, do not rush to ask question. Do small talk. Build their trust. In my case, when the discussion get along, there become more open and helpful as they trust you.
5. Dress a smart as possible, maintain eye contact and first impression count. Please don't forget to get their contact number, perhaps some possibility that they will help you in your full case study or they may recommend you to someone they know in the scope of your topic.