Interviewer Training Guidelines of Multinational Survey Programs: A Total Survey Error Perspective

Daniela Ackermann-Piek, Henning Silber, Jessica Daikeler, Silke Martin, Brad Edwards


Typically, interviewer training is implemented in order to minimize interviewer effects and ensure that interviewers are well prepared to administer the survey. Leading professional associations in the survey research landscape recommend the standardized implementation
of interviewer training. Some large-scale multinational survey programs have produced their own training guidelines to ensure a comparable level of quality in the implementation of training across participating countries. However, the length, content, and methodology of interviewer training guidelines are very heterogeneous. In this paper, we provide a comparative overview of general and study-specific interviewer training guidelines of three multinational survey programs (ESS, PIAAC, SHARE). Using total survey error (TSE) as a conceptual framework, we map the general and study-specific training guidelines of the three multinational survey programs to components of the TSE to determine how they target the reduction of interviewer effects. Our results reveal that unit nonresponse error is covered by all guidelines; measurement error is covered by most guidelines; and coverage error, sampling error, and processing error are addressed either not at all or sparsely. We conclude, for example, that these guidelines could be an excellent starting point for new – small as well as large-scale – surveys to design their interviewer training, and that interviewer training guidelines should be made publicly available in order to provide a high level of transparency, thus enabling survey programs to learn from each other.


interviewer training guidelines, interviewer effects, multinational survey programs, total survey error

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Copyright (c) 2020 Daniela Ackermann-Piek, Henning Silber, Jessica Daikeler, Silke Martin, Brad Edwards

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