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The Telephone Interviewer's Handbook: How to Conduct Standardized Conversations

ISBN: 978-0-7879-8638-4
336 pages
April 2007, Jossey-Bass
The Telephone Interviewer
"Survey organizations should make this handbook an integral part of their training of telephone interviewers. It covers in a clear and direct manner all aspects of the interviewing process and incorporates the latest knowledge about what makes effective interviewers in today’s challenging survey environment."
David R. Johnson, professor of sociology, human development and family studies, and demography and former director of the Survey Research Center, Penn State University and the Bureau of Sociological Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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Dedication.

List of Exhibits and Figures.

Preface.

Acknowledgements.

Author biography.

Chapter 1. Introduction.

Who is this Book for and Why?

Why Have Surveys at All?

Why Have Interviewers?

The Basic Survey Process.

How Telephone Surveys Compare to Other Survey Modes.

Interviewers and Survey Error.

Summing Up.

Chapter 2. Who Conducts Surveys?

Types of Survey Organizations.

What You Should Know about Your Survey Employer.

What Your Survey Employer Needs from You.

What Your Survey Employer Does Not Need from You.

Chapter 3. Survey Professionalism.

Ethics in Survey Research.

The Role of Professional Associations.

Codes of Ethics.

Government Requirements.

Unethical Pseudo-Surveys and Laws Protecting Your Work.

Research on Survey Research.

Summing Up.

Chapter 4. What to Expect in Telephone Interviewer Training.

General Telephone Interviewer Training.

Project-Specific Training.

Refresher Training.

Summing Up.

Chapter 5. Calling.

Getting Ready.

Dialing.

Call Disposition Codes.

Leaving Messages for the Next Interviewer.

Scheduling Callbacks.

Summing Up.

Chapter 6. Introducing the Standardized Interview.

Controlling Your Voice.

A Person Answers the Telephone.

Respondent Selection.

The Survey Introduction.

Addressing Potential Respondents’ Questions and Concerns.

Refusals.

Refusal Conversion.

Unusual Situations.

Summing Up.

Chapter 7. Asking Questions in the Standardized Interview.

About Survey Questions.

How Respondents Answer Survey Questions.

Guidelines for Asking Questions in the Standardized Interview.

Probing.

Recording Respondents’ Answers.

Unusual Circumstances While Conducting Interviews.

Ending the Interview.

Summing Up.

Chapter 8. What to Expect in the Survey Workplace.

Workplace Settings.

Workplace Routines

Communication with Your Employer.

Employment Status, Pay, and Benefits.

Workplace Policies.

What to Expect from Interviewer Supervisors.

Summing Up.

Chapter 9. Concluding Comments.

Appendix A: Glossary.

Appendix B: Example Forms.

Bibliography.

Index.

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THE AUTHOR

Patricia A. Gwartney, Ph.D., is professor of sociology at the University of Oregon, Eugene. An internationally known expert in the field of survey research, she was the founding director of the University of Oregon Survey Research Laboratory (OSRL).

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This step-by-step approach to training telephone interviewers covers best practices and key methods applicable to all social research efforts.

It describes interviewers’ responsibilities, their key role in the survey process, and how to motivate them.

Topics include respondent selection procedures, addressing respondents’ concerns, how to read survey questions, feedback, how to recognize and avoid bias, and how to handle refusals.

The book reviews types of surveys, the interviewer’s role, research on survey research, ethics, laws that protect telephone interviewing, and respondents’ rights.

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"Survey organizations should make this handbook an integral part of their training of telephone interviewers. It covers in a clear and direct manner all aspects of the interviewing process and incorporates the latest knowledge about what makes effective interviewers in today's challenging survey environment."
—David R. Johnson, professor of sociology, human development and family studies, and demography and former director of the Survey Research Center, Penn State University and the Bureau of Sociological Research, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"Offers a vast wealth of knowledge and wisdom regarding best practices for conducting standardized telephone interviews and fills an important gap in the literature. Will be of great value both to rookie interviewers and seasoned researchers."
—Timothy Johnson, director, University of Illinois at Chicago Survey Research Laboratory

"Gwartney's logic, confidence, and experience will inspire confidence and hope in interviewers, supervisors, and trainers. All three groups can employ the recommended strategies to increase their effectiveness."
—Molly Longstreth, director, Survey Research Center, University of Arkansas

"Everything an interviewer and supervisor has to know, but was afraid to ask! Gwartney's book is a wonderful contribution to the enhancement of survey quality."
—Dr. Edith de Leeuw, Department of Methodology and Statistics, Utrecht University

"The book will help both those who train new interviewers and new interviewers. No published material describes the interviewing experience and the value of active listening as well as this book."
—John M. Kennedy, director, Center for Survey Research, Indiana University

"Gwartney's years of experience shine through these pages. She's covered all the bases of real-world telephone interviewing, and done so in a tone of voice that will resonate with both novice and experienced interviewers."
—Thomas M. Guterbock, director, Center for Survey Research, University of Virginia

" . . . . combines a unique experience both as a practitioner and as an academic, which makes this book the most relevant tool not only in the hands of interviewers but also of survey researchers who want to better understand the practice of survey research."
—Claire Durand, professor and former survey research director, Département of Sociologie, Université de Montréal

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