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Selection and training programme of interviewers participating in household surveys of HCSO

I. Recruitment and selection of the staff of interviewers

The aim of the new programme for the recruitment and selection of interviewers developed in 2012 at the Methodology Department of HCSO is to prevent and manage the quantitative problems (fluctuation, replacement) and qualitative problems (competence) of the interviewer network. This programme ensures the organized and conscious establishment of the interviewer staff, the continuous replacement of interviewers, the selection of candidates with uniform criteria and methods and the basic level information provided for applicants and beginners. Furthermore, an important objective is to make the decision of those interested about taking the job more founded and, at the same time, to help survey organisers in the preparation of candidates and beginners.

The application programme package developed by the Survey Methodology Section provides a framework for tendering people interested in interviewer jobs. The electronic programme package accessible on the website of HCSO (www.ksh.hu/statek) contains materials helping self-orientation and preliminary preparation, among others, a short film about the interviewer work and its conditions. A part of the programme package is the teaching material titled ‘About surveys at a glance’, which provides a basic level of knowledge in three parts (1. ‘Insight into interviewer work’; 2. ‘A little data collection methodology’; 3. ‘Information about HCSO and regular data collections conducted with the participation of interviewers’). For those applying for interviewer jobs, self-check questions also help learn the teaching material: answering these questions is the precondition of application and the results are entered into a database. Those who feel like the work based on the teaching material and the short film can indicate the intention to work by completing an electronic application form. Thus, a continuously updated database of candidates is available, which enables the quick replacement in case of shortage of interviewers.

The regional survey organisers call the attention to the compulsory use of the application procedure during the recruitment. Its use makes the intention of those interested to undertake the work more founded, and so it may greatly contribute to prevent natural wastage arising from the inadequate knowledge of difficulties and circumstances of interviewer work.

II. Training programme for interviewers and survey organisers

The general social phenomenon that the willingness of respondents to cooperate is getting worse and worse and the loss of confidence towards all kinds of data collection is increasing, especially in Budapest and other large towns, plays a key role in the training programme for interviewers. Therefore, the work of interviewers became more and more difficult, which contributes to the strong fluctuation. In connection with the increasing difficulties of the work, the continuous change in the interviewer staff and the modernization of data collection methods and techniques (CATI, CAPI, CAWI), the need for the development of the professional knowledge and skills of interviewers was reformulated.

In the work of interviewers, in addition to the professional knowledge of completing questionnaires, the focus is now more and more on recruiting, persuading and motivating respondents. All these directed the attention to the renewal of the content of trainings for interviewers.

The training programme has been developed for different target groups (in addition to interviewers, for survey organisers as well) and for different levels using the benefits and opportunities of the traditional and the modern teaching methods. The components of the programme are as follows:

Target groups of the training:

  1. Interviewers conducting regular surveys
  2. Interviewers working occasionally with a service contract
  3. Interviewer candidates included in the application database – as a reserve staff
  4. Regional survey organisers and trainers

Levels of the training:

  1. Basic preparation connected to application and selection (‘zero-station’ of the training)
  2. Professional training preceding the data collection and the fieldwork
  3. Regular training, skills maintenance training

Forms of training:

  1. Self-directed training forms (preparation at home, individual learning, e-learning, self-check)
  2. Classroom teaching: lectures, interactive exercises, consultation
  3. Exchange of experiences, forums, workshops
  4. Social network ensuring information flow

Syllabus of the training:

  1. Characteristics of the interviewer work, tasks of the interviewer
  2. Information on HCSO and international outlook
  3. Concrete information on each data collection (aim, method, tasks)
  4. Basic professional skills (e.g. nomenclatures, statistical concepts, process of data collection)
  5. Data collection methods (CAPI, CATI, CAWI)
  6. Communication, interviewing and questioning techniques skills
  7. Conflict management, work organisation
  8. Exchange of experiences about interviewer work
  9. Knowledge and skills related to the use of laptops

Aids for the training:

  1. Guides, teaching materials related to data collections
  2. Short films about data collections
  3. Teaching materials developing interviewer skills (e.g. questioning techniques, communication)
  4. Plans, scenarios and aids of classroom teaching of interviewers (presentations, exercises)

Basic principles of the training:

  1. Resource-efficient training methods, e.g. self-checked preparation at home
  2. In the interest of an effective knowledge transfer, classroom teaching with up to 20 people
  3. Development of teaching skills of trainers (‘train the trainers’)