Recruit the right team

There are five primary roles when implementing a survey, ea­ch of which can either be outsourced or done in-house. Sometimes one person can perform more than one role.


DescriptionSkills and training needed

Survey manager

This person will oversee the whole process, recruiting for and supervising the four roles below and ensuring that the project is completed on time and to the required standard.Project management experienceUnderstanding of survey methods – at least thorough knowledge of this tool

Data collection supervisors

These people will supervise the data collection teamPast experience of survey data collection

Data collection team (also known as interviewers or enumerators)

These people will select beneficiaries according to the sampling procedure and then conduct interviews with them

Bright and trustworthy

Prior quantitative data collection experience is preferred but not essential

Must undergo training

Public health students are often ideal

Data entry clerks (only needed if you are using paper forms instead of the mobile data collection tool)These people will enter data from the questionnaires into a pre-prepared data entry software (part of the toolkit)Computer literateAttention to detail

Data analyst (only needed if you are using paper forms instead of the mobile data collection tool)

This person will clean the dataset and then analyse it, using the pre-prepared analysis syntaxTrained and experienced in statistical analysis of survey data


Train the team:

Data collection team training normally takes two days. There is a template presentation that you can modify and use for the training in this toolkit.

There are seven main sessions in a data collection team training:

1. Introduction and background

This session is simply an introduction to the organization and to the purpose of the survey, and provides a chance for everyone to introduce themselves.

2. How to select respondents

During this session, the data collection team will learn how to select respondents. The selection procedure will be based on your sampling tool results and whether you decided to interview respondents at the facilities/sites or at their homes.

It’s a good idea to role play within the group to teach how the process should go.

3. How to conduct interviews

    • Informed consent

Before starting the interview, the respondent should have a clear understanding of what the survey entails and what it’s for. The interview should only begin if the respondent agrees and gives the interviewer permission to start.

    • How to remain neutral and polite at all times

If the respondent feels judged, he or she may not answer openly and accurately. The data collection team must keep in mind that the respondent is being generous in providing his or her time and personal information.

    • How to ask the questions correctly

Asking the questions boils down to a simple rule: stick to the words on the questionnaire. Unfortunately, quantitative survey interviews are not conducive to creativity or individuality, because the questions need to be asked in the same way to each respondent. If the questionnaire isn’t worded well, that should be identified when testing the questionnaire. Then the questionnaire itself can be corrected before starting data collection.

    • How to probe without leading the respondent to get complete answers

If the respondent doesn’t fully understand the question, or provides an answer that is too vague, then the interviewer may need to provide further clarification or probe into the answer given. This not in the questionnaire script, because it will depend on the respondent. The interviewers will therefore need to have the ability to probe and clarify without accidentally influencing the answers in any way. More specifically, they must not lead the respondent.

Avoid giving example answers – “Do you use contraception, like condoms or something?”

Avoid negative questions – “Don’t you use any form of contraception?”

Avoid any implication of judgment – “You use some form of contraception, right?” “Really, you don’t use anything?”

Role playing is a useful tool for this session. It can be very effective to pair up the interviewers for this session, with one interviewing the other. The interviewee can make up the answers, or you can pre-prepare answers for the role play. The trainers should observe the role plays and identify any mistakes the interviewers make

4. How to fill in the questionnaire

Explain how you would like the forms filled in.

5. Go through the questionnaire question by question as a group

During this session, the group will go through each question, reading them aloud and discussing. Everyone will need a clear and consistent understanding of each question. The group should talk through any potential problems with each question and try role playing asking and probing.

6. Assessment of data collection team capacity

You may like to include some sort of test to ensure that the key lessons have been learned by the whole team.

7. Practice in the field

This is an essential part of the training. The entire team will visit the field together with the trainers. They will select respondents and conduct interviews under observation.

At some point you should also make time to go through logistical issues with the trainees – transportation, stationery, how supervision will work and so on.