Research interviewers conduct surveys. These surveys could be about many
things. Some topics concern health, public opinion, customer satisfaction,
social policy or market research.
Interviewers could work at telephone call centers. They also work for government,
universities or other organizations. Some work from home.
In the old days, interviewers contacted people by going door to door or
by using direct mail. Information was collected on a questionnaire and later
entered into a computer.
Now, the calls are done by telephone and the information is entered directly
into the computer. Occasionally, researchers do in-person interviews.
Computer software provides on-screen, scripted questionnaires. These allow
the responses to be entered directly by the interviewers. The computer stores
the responses and directs the interviewer to the next follow-up question.
Research interviewers call people who are targeted respondents. Respondents
have been selected in order to get a representative opinion.
Interviewers often try several times to get a selected respondent. They
will try to make an appointment to call the respondent back if he or she is
not able to take the call.
Interviewers must follow the script exactly. And they must record the information
exactly as provided. If the researcher must ask the respondent to clarify
an answer, the interviewer uses a scripted list of questions.
Interviewers have to exercise good judgment as to whether an interview
respondent is appropriate. For example, maybe the respondent does not speak
English well enough to understand the questions. Or maybe the respondent is
too ill to participate in the interview.
Research interviewers could be asked to fill in a form reporting unusual
situations, such as computer failure during an interview.
In many cases, interviewers must sign forms agreeing to keep respondents'
Many employers randomly monitor interview calls for quality assurance purposes.
Working hours are usually on a shift basis. Shifts could be staggered from
early morning to late at night. Some call centers operate 24 hours a day.
Dottie Oliver is a phone room coordinator at a health studies center in
Seattle. She says that in many cases, the shifts last approximately four hours
and are very flexible.
"Our centers are open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week," she says.
"It is excellent work for students, senior citizens or anyone who wants to
work part time to bring in some income."
Paul Speidel is a training coordinator for a research company. He says
that people with disabilities such as mobility challenges or visual challenges
could definitely do the work.
"We take steps to do as much as we can to accommodate people with disabilities
as long as they are capable of doing the job," he says.