Summary: How might one prevent interviewer bias? Regardless of the type of interview, the interviewer can create a situation where the respondent replies in a manner that reflects what she believes the interviewer wants to hear. Objective interviewing requires both the interviewer and the respondent to say precisely what they mean and mean precisely what they say.
Conducting surveys in the field rather than on the web is different. The questions asked in the field are read aloud to the respondent. That may not sound significant, but if an interviewer doesn’t read the question the same way to every respondent (i.e., without changing any words), the survey results may be skewed. We call this “Interviewer Bias,” not to be confused with “Consumer Bias.”
To prevent Interviewer Bias, we provide three simple instructions for interviewers when conducting surveys:
- Read each question exactly as it appears.
- Don’t interpret the question for the interviewee.
- Offer to repeat the question exactly as it appears.
At PortMA, we instruct our interviewers to ask the respondents to answer based on their best understanding of the question. Any addition, subtraction, modification, interpretation, suggestion, or change in vocal inflection by the interviewer can stimulate interviewer bias.
We want our interviewers to be as objective as possible and present no interviewer bias.
Even though there is no guarantee that every question will be interpreted the same way by all respondents, it does ensure that they are all responding to the same question. This is an important step toward ensuring clean, accurate survey data.
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