3 most important skills for interviewers

on November 25 | in Uncategorized | by | with No Comments

Conducting telephone-surveys is a big investment, especially today when online surveys offer data collection for low costs close to nothing. However, in my last article CATI is not dead, I highlighted several reasons why telephone interviewing is still widely used despite of cost saving that online surveys provide. There is simply, some information that can be obtained only by asking the right question at the right time to right person. But, HOW can we do that?

Remember, CATI (Computer Assisted Telephone Interview) is much more than simply picking up the phone and asking questions. If you want reliable data you need people who know how to listen, read and manage their tone effectively. It might sound simple and silly, but these three skills are the most challenging and essential for successful CATI research.

1.     First impression always matters most

Before you dive in and start asking questions, give the interviewee some context of the interview, particularly why their participation is important. Don’t dwell long on details; a short introduction sets a tone for pleasant conversation and two-way communication.

The first 30seconds to a minute are most important in telephone interviewing. In this short period you can determine the respondent’s gender immediately, asses their mood and willingness to participate. Based on the first impression you need to adapt your speed and tone of reading the questions. Most importantly:

Listen to objections against participating in the survey so you can address them. Great interviewers are those who have skill to make prospects accept an interview.

Finally, spot when your respondents are not listening; avoid answering a question by talking “gibberish”. Repeat the question more persuasively and LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN!

2.     Be careful when you read

The temptation to modify the wording of questions is huge in telephone interviewing. While interviewers are encouraged to make voice and speed modifications, adaptations of questions are not recommended. Even slight alternation of the question like substituting the word “could” with “would”, will change the respondents’ answer completely.

Do not underestimate the science of structuring a survey and the formulation of questions.

Your interpretation of the meaning of a question could be radically different than what the author of the questionnaire intended or what the client wants to learn. Asking the exact same question is of highest importance for comparability and reliability of data.

Girl talking to customer via headset. No noise reduction, sharpening or upsizing. The image is manually cleaned for small dust particles and is very smooth in full size. Native RAW from Canon developed in Capture One Pro.

3.     Remain neutral

This may be one of the most important qualities of a good interviewer. Refrain from saying “okay” or “uh-huh” because these can be perceived by the respondent as approval or disapproval of their answers. This is particularly important when working on a political poll or asking questions about hot-button social issues. In this case is crucial not to reveal your personal opinions from your reading manner.

Remember, you are collecting information completely unbiased.

Bottom line, successful research starts with good data. Train your interviewers and improve their skill sets for more effective and efficient data collection. Only by taking the above recommendations seriously, you can truly and fully enhance the benefits of CATI research


Rating Call Centres is a leading provider of outsourced research and contact centre services in Macedonia, working for clients in more than ten countries in EU. We specialize in market research and surveys methodologies, most proficient in outsourced CATI and Face to face research regardless of the industry in German, English, Italian and all Balkan languages.If you want to find out more about Rating or simply need an advice on how to execute your next CATI survey effectively, I encourage you to reach out, completely unbiased J

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