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Research Interviewer  What They Do

Just the Facts

Insider Info

dotResearch interviewers conduct surveys. These surveys could be about many things. Some topics concern health, public opinion, customer satisfaction, social policy or market research.

dotInterviewers could work at telephone call centers. They also work for government, universities or other organizations. Some work from home.

dotIn 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.

dotResearch 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.

dotInterviewers 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.

dotIn many cases, interviewers must sign forms agreeing to keep respondents' information confidential.

dotMany employers randomly monitor interview calls for quality assurance purposes.

dotWorking 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."

dotPaul 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.

At a Glance

Conduct surveys to get information

  • Interviewers call people who are targeted respondents
  • You could work for government, universities or call centers
  • Most employers expect at least a high school diploma