CATI Interviewer Retraining Instructions

March 30, 2020

Collecting data with Survey Solutions over the phone

Offline approach utilizing tablets

This approach is most suitable for the interviewers working at a location with poor/slow/not-reliable internet connectivity. It is recommended that these generic instructions are reviewed and customized by survey administrators for each particular survey. The article is oriented on the agencies already having experience in using Survey Solutions for face-to-face (CAPI) surveys and in need to re-orient their operations for the telephone surveys.


  1. A phone (any phone will be suitable as long as it is compatible with the cellular provider in your area).
  2. The tablet that was issued to you by the statistical office.
  3. Possibility to connect to the internet for synchronization
  4. Address of the server, interviewer login name and password (these will be communicated to you from the stats office).
  5. Access to an electric outlet/power to recharge the tablet and the charger/cable suitable for your tablet model.

Before you start

Before you start collecting the interviews, find in your tablet the Survey Solutions Interviewer application. Its icon looks like this:

Click on it and enter exactly the three parameters you’ve got from the statistical office: the server address (synchronization point), the login, and the password. Connect to the internet and click SIGN IN. You will see the SYNCHRONIZE button if you’ve entered all three parameters exactly. If there was any error, or you are not online, the software will not let you in.

If you can’t find the Interviewer App it may not have been installed for you in the office. In this case either get back to the office or contact it by phone to follow the instructions of the local IT-support person who will guide you through the installation process.

Daily algorithm

On any day when you work, follow this algorithm:

  1. At the beginning of your shift, connect to the internet, login to the Interviewer App, and synchronize by pressing the SYNCHRONIZE button in the dashboard. It is important that you complete synchronization. If for any reason (typically connectivity/signal strength) your synchronization doesn’t succeed, you will see an error message and need to repeat the synchronization by pressing the same button again.
  2. After synchronization completes you will receive one or more assignments and possibly rejected interviews. Each is appearing as a card on your dashboard.
  3. Each card contains a field named PHONE with a phone number.
  4. Cards may also contain a person’s name and other identifying information, and possibly a comment on when the number should be dialed. If there is no comment on when to dial, that phone may be called at any time.
  5. Review the cards and determine which one you can contact next. If you have any interviews rejected by your supervisor, give them the priority, then the started interviews that you haven’t finalized, then all the remaining interviews.
  6. Open the interview by clicking the OPEN button on the interview (or START NEW for new interviews).
  7. Take the phone and dial the phone number you are seeing on the interview cover page.
  8. Listen carefully. You may end up in one of the situations below. You will need to mark this situation in the contact outcome in the interview. (Only frequent situations are listed here, your particular questionnaire may provide additional options). A) The phone is not answered after at least 1 minute of waiting (or the longest allowed by your operator); B) You get a busy signal; C) The phone is answered and immediately hang up; D) The phone is answered by an answering machine; E) The phone is answered by a FAX or a modem device. F) The phone is answered by a person. G) The operator tells you that the phone is not valid or not in service. H) The operator tells you that connection is not possible at this time. Z) All other outcomes.
  9. Make sure you record the result of the contact attempt in the interview. Depending on the result of the contact attempt you will:
  • If the phone is answered by a person (f), proceed with the interview.
  • For (a), (b), ( c), (d), and (h) try to reach the same number at a later time.
  • For (e), (g), and (z) you reach the end of this interview. Make sure you mark it as completed.
  1. If you’ve marked the interview as completed, synchronize from the dashboard. Then proceed to the next appropriate card.
  2. As you are doing the interview, read the texts from the screen that are marked with READ: prompt. Also read the questions and give the respondent time to think about the answer. When the answer is given, record the answer into the field provided under the question or select the appropriate option of categorical questions. Sometimes you may need to read the options, such as with Y/N-multiselect questions.
  3. As a result of you entering the answers some new questions/sections may appear in the interview or others disappear. Only ask questions that you are seeing suggested by the Interviewer App, even if you remember that you’ve asked different questions of a different respondent.
  4. Just like in CAPI interviews, you may encounter error messages. For example: “Value X is too large”. Before turning it to the respondent, double-check that the value you’ve entered is indeed the value that the respondent just told you. It may be a simple typing/entry error. Other situations you need to clarify with the respondent. For example: “You have told me earlier that there are 3 members in your household. Yet now you are telling me that 4 members are having fever today. Perhaps, you didn’t count someone as a household member earlier?”
  5. During the interview the respondent may decide to interrupt the interview. If you may not complete the interview at this time, make a note in the final section that the interview is not completed, ask the respondent when is the nearest convenient time to call back, and record this time in the final section of the interview. If the respondent refuses categorically to finish the interview, make sure that you record the corresponding outcome and any reason/explanation provided (interview is too long, questions are too sensitive, respondent doesn’t see the purpose, etc).
  6. If at step 14 the interview was completed, or the respondent refused to finish categorically, or designated the call back time after the end of your shift, mark the interview as completed and synchronize at the dashboard. Completed synchronized interviews will be removed from your dashboard. Remember that you are using a phone to make the calls. Marking the interview as completed will not hang up the phone!
  7. If you agreed with the respondent to make another call during the current shift, you don’t have to mark the interview as completed and synchronize. In this case it is important that you make the contact attempt at the designated time during the current shift and record the corresponding status, and possibly the next contact appointment.
  8. At the end of your shift do a final synchronization (and make sure it is successful). Do not start new interviews after this synchronization.
  9. Next time you work, proceed to step #1. You may find that you have received some of the new assignments and some interviews rejected by the supervisors. Not all the interviews that were marked to be continued today may be returned to you – your supervisor may decide that they can be better finished by other interviewers.


  1. Not all tablets provide a possibility to connect to 3G/4G networks for sending the data (may or may not be having a SIM-card slot and corresponding modem). If your tablet is capable of connecting to WiFi networks only, you will need to set up such a network. If the phone used for calls is a smartphone, it may have a capability to raise an access point and forward the WiFi connection to the internet through 3G/4G. If the phone is not capable of providing such a connectivity, a combination of a battery-operated router and 3G/4G dongle, or a MiFi-type device can provide the needed functionality.
  2. Any synchronization requires an internet connection. If synchronization doesn’t succeed - make sure you are connected to the internet, then try again. The synchronization may fail even while connected if the signal is too weak. Again, just retry the synchronization process.
  3. If at any time you find that you’ve exhausted the allowance for wireless connection (either on the phone you make your phone calls with, or on the tablet itself) contact your supervisor and explain.
  4. It is possible that the respondent will request the interview may be continued on the next day “at any time”. Prepare before the start of the interview with a couple of slots that you know are possible for the next day. This will help arrange a schedule with no conflicting appointments.
  5. Use only the tablet provided to you by the office, not any other device. If you attempt to login to any other device, this will invalidate your tablet (relinking) with a loss of all data.
  6. Your supervisor may tell you that she will not be reviewing your unfinished interviews nightly. Then you don’t have to complete and synchronize unfinished interviews (step #15). But make sure you’ve discussed this with your supervisor and reached this agreement. In any case you should synchronize at the beginning and end of every shift. (and make sure the synchronization succeeds).