Monitoring data collection principles
To be successful, both qualitative and quantitative data collectors must behave in a
way that encourages the respondent to talk freely and openly about the survey topic.
Whether a respondent agrees to the interview and how openly he or she responds to
the questions depends primarily on the interviewer’s behavior and the
To motivate a respondent to speak freely, an interviewer should:
Show warmth, responsiveness and a general interest in the respondent.
Accept all responses without showing personal reactions, judgments or
biases either verbally or nonverbally.
A successful interviewer is one who creates a comfortable interviewing atmosphere,
is naturally observant of the reactions of others, and can adapt according to these
reactions. In the interviewing situation, interviewers must be careful to avoid giving
any cues, either verbal or nonverbal, that might affect a respondent’s answers.
Interviewer’s style. Style refers to the way the interviewer speaks, acts or presents
him or herself. Interviewers should keep their style as neutral as possible, avoiding
the extremes of being either too formal or too relaxed.
Nonverbal cues. Facial expressions may indicate an attitude or a judgment without
the interviewer actually saying anything. Maintain a neutral facial expression during
the interview. A frown, a shake of the head or a nod can all indicate positive or
negative reactions to the respondent and may bias the data.
Verbal cues. Avoid verbal cues. Expressions of opinions or attitudes on the part of
the interviewer are the most direct kind of influence on a respondent. Something the
interviewer says or the tone or manner can be biasing.
Avoiding biasing comments and gestures does not mean the interview has to be stiff
or awkward. The interviewer must find the right balance of being nonjudgmental
while still showing concern, friendliness and warmth.
Interviewer expectations. Interviewers must avoid assuming or guessing answers to
questions based on what they have already heard or observed in the interview or
based on the ideas included in qualitative discussion guides. Interviewers must not
allow observations of a respondent’s behavior, economic status or living situation to
influence their job as reporters. Unless specifically stated in the question,
interviewers should not record their observations.