188.8.131.52 Direct Personal Interviews
Under this method of collecting of data, there is a face-to-face contact with the persons from whom the information is to be obtained (known as informants). The interviewer asks them questions pertaining to the survey and collects the desired information. Thus, if a person wants to collect data about the working conditions of the workers of a fish processing Industry, he would go to the Industry, contact the workers and obtain the desired information. The information thus obtained is first hand or original in character.
Merits . The advantages of personal interview are:
1. Response is more encouraging as most people are willing to supply information when approached personally.
2. The information obtained by this method is likely to be more accurate because the interviewer can clarify the doubts of the informants about certain questions and thus obtain correct information. In case the interviewer apprehends that the informant is not giving accurate information, he may cross-examine him and thereby try to obtain the information.
3. It is also possible through personal interview to collect supplementary information about the informant’s personal characteristics and environment and such information often proves very useful while interpreting results.
4. Some questions about which the informant may likely to be sensitive which can be carefully combined with other questions by the interviewer. He can twist the questions keeping in mind the informant’s reactions. He can change the subject, if necessary, or explain the survey problem further if it appears that the informant is not inclined to supply any information. In other words, a delicate situation can usually be handled more effectively by a personal interview than by other survey techniques.
5. The language of communication can be adjusted to the status and educational level of the person interviewed, thus inconvenience and misinterpretation on the part of the informant can be avoided.
Limitations. Important limitations of the personal interview method are:
1. It may be very costly where the number of persons to be interviewed is large and they are spread over a wide area.
2. The chances of personal prejudice and bias are greater under this method as compared to other methods.
3. The interviewers have to be thoroughly trained and supervised, otherwise they may not be able to obtain the desired information. Untrained or poorly trained people may spoil the entire work.
4. More time is required for collecting information by this method as compared to others. This is because interviews can be held only at the convenience of the informants. Thus, if information is required to be obtained from the working members of households, interviews will have to be held in the evening or on weekend. Since only an hour or two can be used for interviews in the evening, the work may have to be continued for a long time, or a large staff may have to be employed involving huge expenditure.
Suitability . This method is suitable for intensive rather than extensive field surveys. Hence, it should be used only in those cases where intensive study of a limited field is desired.
It may be noted that when personal interview method is adopted, the investigator instead of going personally and conducting a face-to-face interview may also obtain information on telephone. For example, the television viewers may be asked to comment on certain programmes on phone. The method is less expensive. However, this method suffers from some serious defects like: (i) not every one owns a phone and hence only a very limited group can be approached by this method, (ii) very few questions can be asked on phone, (iii) since telephone interview has to be conducted very quickly, the respondents may give vague and reckless answers, and (iv) there may be serious errors of communication on telephone.
Because of these reasons, telephone interviews are not very commonly used.