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Role of interviewers

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It is important to note that not all persons who collect data are interviewers. In some instances, the data are collected by having people go into grocery stores or clothing stores on a monthly basis. They record the price of a given list of goods and services on hand-held devices and then they report their data back to Statistics Canada.

However, the role of the interviewer is very important. The process of interviewing people to collect data involves a number of skills. Without these skills, the quality of data collected can be affected. Therefore, when someone is employed to collect data they may need:

  • good communication skills;
  • a confident and professional appearance; and
  • use of a car and telephone.

Statistics Canada employs a large number of interviewers to collect data. Interviewers are trained before collecting data. This training emphasizes that the interviewer's opening remarks and the manner in which they are made have a strong influence on a respondent's reaction and willingness to co-operate. Because of this, interviewers should ensure they carry out certain tasks before asking respondents to answer questions. They must:

  • give the respondent their name and provide identification;
  • explain that a survey is being conducted and by whom;
  • describe the survey's purpose;
  • explain that the respondent's household or business has been selected in the survey sample;
  • give the respondent time to read or be informed about confidentiality issues, the voluntary or mandatory status of the survey, and any existing data-sharing agreements with other organizations; and
  • read the introduction message of the questionnaire to the respondent. (See Questionnaire design section.)

In addition, it is important that the interviewer have appropriate skills and abilities such as:

  • stimulating the respondent's interest;
  • listening attentively;
  • asking questions as worded for each respondent interviewed;
  • NOT suggesting any answers for the respondent;
  • answering the respondent's questions properly;
  • keeping the respondent 'on track'; and
  • explaining that the information collected is confidential.

Above all, the interviewer should let respondents know that he or she understands the respondent.