Discovering the Characteristics of a Good Interviewer: Analyzing the Performance of Interviewers from Their Interaction With Respondents and the Survey Environment





Published date: 

June, 2014


Kah-yew Lim


The quality of survey research is the researcher’s main concern andhe always tries to reduce the refusal rate and item nonresponse rate. Theinterviewer, respondent and survey environment are the most importantfactors affecting the result of a face-to-face interview. This article analyzesthe characteristics of these factors and their interaction in deciding theresult of a face-to-face interview.

Using the multilevel model, the analysis reveals that the interviewerwho had TEDS interview experience was significantly more successfulin persuading the respondent to accept the interview, compared to thosewho had no experience at all. The difference is more significant whenthe respondent is coming from a highly-urbanized area. The experienced interviewer has a lower item nonresponse rate than one without experience,when the respondent has less education or the respondent is from an areawith a low degree of urbanization. Compared to the female interviewers,the male interviewers are more likely to be refused, especially when theymeet female respondents. Besides, male respondents have both a lower unitnonresponse rate and item nonresponse rate. A respondent from a highlyurbanized area is more likely to refuse the interview, but a respondentfrom a less urbanized area has a higher item nonresponse rate. Finally,this paper suggests that those researchers who engage in survey researchshould obtain as much information about the interviewer, respondent andenvironment as they can.