Chapter 6
The Survey Interview
Copyright © 2011 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
Chapter Summary
Purpose and Research
Structuring the Interview
Survey Questions
Selecting Interviewees
Selecting and Training Interviewers
Conducting Survey Interviews
Coding, Tabulation, and Analysis
The Respondent in Survey Interviews
Purpose and Research
• Determining Purpose
▫ What types of information do you need?
▫ How soon must you complete the survey and
compile the results?
▫ How much time will you have for each interview?
▫ How will you use the information obtained?
▫ What are your short- and long-range goals?
▫ What are your resources?
Purpose and Research
• Conducting Research
▫ Don’t assume adequate knowledge of a topic.
▫ Don’t waste time learning what you already know.
Structuring the Interview
• Interview Guide and Schedule
▫ A detailed guide is easily transformed into a
scheduled format.
▫ Standardization is essential for surveys.
Structuring the Interview
• The Opening
▫ There are no ice-breaker questions or small talk in
▫ Surveys must be structured so that each
interviewee goes through an identical interview
▫ Write out the opening and require each
interviewer to recite it verbatim.
Structuring the Interview
• The Closing
▫ The closing is usually brief and expresses
appreciation for the time and effort expended by
the interviewee.
▫ Do not get defensive or bad-mouth the survey.
Survey Questions
• Planning Survey Questions
• Interviewers cannot make on-the-spot
Survey Questions
• Phrasing Questions
▫ Every word in every question may influence
▫ Adapt phrasing to all members of a target
▫ Be wary of negatively phrased questions.
Survey Questions
• Sample Question Development
▫ Keep recording of answers in mind when phrasing
▫ Build in secondary questions for reasons,
knowledge level, and qualifiers.
Survey Questions
• Question Strategies
Filter Strategy
Repeat Strategy
Leaning Question Strategy
Shuffle Strategy
Chain or Contingency Strategy
Survey Questions
• Question Scales
▫ Interval Scales
 Evaluative
 Frequency
 Numerical
▫ Nominal Scales
▫ Ordinal Scales
▫ Bogardus Social Distance Scale
Survey Questions
• Question Sequences
• Question sequences complement question
Selecting Interviewees
• Defining the Population
▫ Sampling Principles
A population is the targeted group of respondents.
A sample is a miniature version of the whole.
Margin of error determines the worth of a survey.
A sample is the actual number of persons
Selecting Interviewees
• Sampling Techniques
Random Sampling
Table of Random Numbers
Skip Interval or Random Digit
Stratified Random Sample
Sample Point
Selecting and Training Interviewers
• Number Needed
▫ You will most often need several interviewers.
▫ Overburdening interviewers will damage the
quality of interviews and the data received.
Selecting and Training Interviewers
• Qualifications
▫ Interviewers must follow the rules.
▫ If a survey requires probing and adaptation to
different interviewees, professionally trained
interviewers tend to be more efficient.
Selecting and Training Interviewers
• Personal Characteristics
▫ Interviewer Credibility
▫ Interviewee Skepticism
▫ Similarity of Interviewer and Interviewee
Selecting and Training Interviewers
• Training Interviewers
Preparing for an Interview
Conducting the Interview
Opening the Interview
Asking Questions
Receiving and Recording Answers
Closing the Interview
Conducting Survey Interviews
• Pretesting the Interview
▫ Lack of pretesting invites disaster.
▫ Leave nothing unquestioned.
Conducting Survey Interviews
• Interviewing Face-to-Face
▫ The interviewer can establish credibility through physical appearance,
dress, voice, eye contact, and presentation of credentials.
▫ Respondents will take part in longer interviews.
▫ Interviewers can ask more complex questions on complex issues.
▫ Interviewers can focus on in-depth attitudes and information by probing
into answers.
▫ Respondents are more likely to provide self-generated answers.
▫ Respondents may provide more accurate answers because of the
“naturalness” of the interview.
▫ Interviewers can observe attitudes and reactions through face, eye
contact, gestures, and posture.
▫ Interviewers can interview specific respondents, in specific places, and at
specific times.
▫ Interviewers can reach and obtain respondents from “marginalized
Conducting Survey Interviews
• Interviewing by Telephone
▫ Telephone interviews are less expensive and provide faster
results, literally overnight in many instances.
▫ There are fewer interviewer effects, including interviewer bias.
▫ Respondents provide fewer socially acceptable answers.
▫ There is increased interviewer uniformity in manner, delivery,
and standardization of the interview.
▫ Interviewers feel safer on the telephone than venturing into
dangerous neighborhoods, particularly at night.
▫ Respondents prefer the anonymity of the telephone when
answering controversial and personal questions.
▫ Respondents prefer the safety of the telephone that does not
require them to admit strangers to their homes or places of
Conducting Survey Interviews
• Interviewing Through the Internet
▫ Advantages
 High response rate
 Easier to establish credibility
 Longer interviews are tolerated
 Able to target specific audiences
▫ Disadvantages
 Costly
 Time-consuming
 Representativeness not guaranteed
Conducting Survey Interviews
• Interviewing Through the Internet
▫ Advantages
 Less expensive
 Faster
 Target audiences can be narrowly defined
 More honest answers
 More detailed answers
▫ Disadvantages
Limited nonverbal information
Reduced response rates
Interactional spontaneity lost
Possible sample problems
Coding, Tabulation, and Analysis
• Coding and Tabulation
▫ Begin the final phase of the survey by coding all
answers that were not pre-coded, usually the
open-ended questions.
▫ Record answers to open-ended questions with
great care.
Coding, Tabulation, and Analysis
• Analysis
▫ Analysis is making sense of your data.
▫ Know the limitations of your survey.
▫ Be careful in using survey results.
The Respondent in Survey Interviews
• The Opening
• Understand what a survey is all about before
The Respondent in Survey Interviews
• The Question Phase
▫ Listen perceptively.
▫ Think before answering.
• The survey interview is the most meticulously
planned and executed of interviews.
• The purpose of the survey interview is to
establish a solid basis of fact from which to draw
• Survey respondents must determine the nature
of the survey and its purposes before taking part.