- Herbert, M, human resources manager, AC Nielsen – New Zealand, Careers New Zealand interview, May 2013.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, ‘2003-2012 Occupation Data’ (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2013.
Survey Interviewer - About the job Alternative titles
Survey interviewers collect facts and opinions by interviewing people. They conduct interviews for market research companies and other organisations.
Call us on 0800 222 733
Survey interviewers usually earn between $14 and $19 an hour. Some companies offer performance incentives and long-service incentives.
Some experienced survey interviewers are self-employed. They contract their services to market research companies for an hourly rate, which is usually between $20 and $40.
What you will do
Survey interviewers may do some or all of the following:
- phone people to make appointments for interviews
- interview people in person or by telephone at their home or business
- approach and interview people in the street, or other public places such as railway stations or shopping centres
- ask set questions on the survey questionnaire
- write down the answers on a survey form or computer
- keep a record of the interview to hand to the survey supervisor.
Skills and knowledge
Survey interviewers need to have:
- knowledge of their interview topic and different interview methods
- good communication and people skills for dealing with a wide variety of people
- good listening skills for accurately recording information
- research and writing skills, including the ability to spell correctly
- good keyboard and computer skills.
- may work full or part time
- work in many different locations including market research company offices and call centres. They may also conduct surveys in people's homes or on the street
- sometimes travel locally or nationally to conduct surveys
- may be required to complete a set number of interviews within a certain time frame, which can make the work pressured.
What's the job really like?
Rochelle Tapuai - Survey Interviewer
A job that's great for building people skills
Rochelle Tapuai works as a survey interviewer for a large market research company. "My job is to ring up a random selection of people and interview them about their opinions on current issues in New Zealand or a company’s products or services. Our clients then use that information to better their customer services or improve their business.
"Being able to talk to different respondents and hearing so many different points of view helps you deal with people and understand the different ways people think."
Remaining polite in difficult circumstances can be challenging
"You need to have patience and be persistent with your respondents. Sometimes when they refuse to talk to you or are quite rude you can take it personally. But you have to remember that you’re representing your company and your client, so it’s important to make sure you’re always polite."
Efficient multitasking is key
"We also have to take down everything our respondents say verbatim. So fast typing skills and an eye for detail are important to ensure you take down their answers accurately. But I get given a lot of training and support so I feel confident in what I’m doing."
To become a survey interviewer you need to have a good standard of spoken and written English.
Telephone interviewers also need good keyboard and computer skills.
Most survey interviewers complete a training module in surveying techniques before they start working. You may also be given training in different interviewing methods.
There are no specific secondary education requirements for this job. However, NCEA Level 1 English and maths are preferred.
Survey interviewers need to be:
- outgoing, confident and motivated
- tactful, polite and friendly
- able to put people at ease
- persistent and patient
- able to follow instructions
- accurate and honest when recording information
- able to keep information private
- good at planning and organising.
Janet Lawson - Survey Interviewer
Useful experience for survey interviewers includes:
- public relations work
- hospitality work.
Survey interviewers must be fit and healthy as they may need to walk long distances. Good hearing is also important.
Telephone interviewers need to be able to sit for long periods.
Find out more about training
What are the chances of getting a job?
According to Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment estimates, the number of survey interviewers fell by about 9% between 2011 and 2012. This drop was due to:
- online surveys becoming increasingly popular, reducing the need for interviewer-assisted surveys
- a growing trend to use overseas call centres, as they are less expensive than local survey interviewers
- some organisations spending less on market research following the 2008-2009 economic recession.
Despite these trends, a high number of vacancies arise because survey interviewers usually work on a casual or part-time basis, and tend to stay in the job for short periods only.
Types of employers varied
Survey interviewers may work for:
- research firms
- large private companies
- government departments.
Some experienced survey interviewers are self-employed and work on contract.
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Updated 20 Jun 2013