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Whom to Hire

In general, when hiring interviewers, look for professional interviewers first. Next, look for people who are mature enough to accept the need for rigorous training and who can work as part of a team. If need be, look for interviewers who can handle the possibility of going into some rough neighborhoods and who can answer the many questions that respondents will come up with in the course of the survey.

If you are running a survey based on personal interviews in a developing country, consider hiring college students, and even college graduates, in the social sciences. ‘‘Social sciences,’’ by the way, does not mean the humanities. In Peru, Donald Warwick and Charles Lininger found that ‘‘some students from the humanities . . . were reluctant to accept the ‘rigidities’ of survey interviewing.” Those students felt that ‘‘As educated individuals, they should be allowed to administer the questionnaire as they saw fit in each situation’’ (Warwick and Lininger 1975:222).

I would not use anyone who had that kind of attitude as an interviewer. But undergraduate social science students in the developing world may have real research experience since most of them aren’t going on for graduate training. Students who are experienced interviewers have a lot to contribute to the design and content of questionnaires. Remember, you are dealing with colleagues who will be justly resentful if you treat them merely as employees of your study. By the same token, college students in developing nations are likely to be members of the elite who may find it tough to establish rapport with peasant farmers or the urban poor (Hursh-Cesar and Roy 1976:308).

Make It Easy for Interviewers to Do Their Job

If you use interviewers, be sure to make the questionnaire booklet easy to use. Leave enough space for interviewers to write in the answers to open-ended questions—but not too much space. Big spaces are an invitation to some interviewers to develop needlessly long answers (Warwick and Lininger 1975:152).

Also, use two different type faces for questions and answers; put instructions to interviewers in capital letters and questions for respondents in normal type. Figure 9.2 is an example:

Using two different type faces in a survey instrument.

SOURCE:Adapted from D. P Warwick and C. A. Lininger. The Sample Survey: Theory and Practice, New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975, p. 153.

FIGURE 9.2.

 
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