Survey Interviewers and Statistical Clerks - What They Do

Survey interviewers contact individuals to gather information for market research, public opinion polls or election and census enumeration. Statistical clerks code and compile interview and other data into reports, lists, directories and other documents. They are employed by market research and polling firms, government departments and agencies, utility companies, contact centres and other establishments. This unit group also includes clerks who observe and record information on traffic flow.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

Survey interviewers

  • Contact individuals by telephone or in person and explain the purpose of the interview
  • Ask questions following the outlines of questionnaires and surveys
  • Record responses on paper or enter responses directly into a computer database through computer-assisted interviewing systems.

Statistical clerks

  • Check information gathered for completeness and accuracy
  • Code information according to established coding manuals and enter data into statistical-based computer programs
  • Conduct routine statistical analysis of data
  • Compile interview and other data into reports and lists.

Job titles

  • coding clerk - statistics
  • statistical clerk
  • public opinion interviewer
  • poll clerk
  • election enumerator
  • census enumerator
  • survey interviewer
  • interview clerk
  • telephone survey clerk
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • Completion of secondary school may be required.
  • Experience in the operation of a computer may be required.
  • On-the-job training is usually provided.
  • May require driver's licence.

Essential Skills


  • May read survey introductions and questionnaire items aloud to persons being interviewed. (1)
  • May read administrative bulletins entered into the computer by the supervisor. (1)
  • May read memos from supervisors requesting status reports. (1)
  • May read information sheets about a survey's purpose and objectives when beginning a new survey. (2)
  • May read letters of complaint from survey respondents. (2)
  • May read manuals for information on codes that they are to assign to interview responses. (2)
  • May read the policy and practices of the organization which initiated the survey as they relate to survey administration and the conduct of the interview. This includes a general understanding of the study's purpose and objectives and how the survey is to be done. (3)

Document use

  • May read names and telephone numbers on lists and in directories. (1)
  • May read interview schedule sheets. (1)
  • May check-off information on coding sheets. (1)
  • May complete time sheets of hours worked and hours requested for the next scheduled period. (1)
  • May read computer-generated printouts to verify correctness of data. (2)
  • May read graphs showing the production of all interviewers in the work group. (2)
  • May refer to statistical tables to verify if the number of interviews completed in a time slot conforms to the norm. (3)


  • May write reminder notes for call-backs. (1)
  • May enter responses into the survey instrument. These vary from brief phrases or numbers to a paragraph or more. (2)
  • May write memos to supervisors to comment on difficulties in survey terminology or context. (2)
  • May write notes to clients with information which may be of interest to them even though not responsive to the questions on the survey. (2)
  • May record details of client complaints or compliments about the survey. (2)
  • May write interpretive summaries of respondents' answers to survey questions. (3)


Money Math

  • May pay cash honoraria to respondents whom they interview. (1)

Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

  • May prepare an interviewing schedule, calculating time and cost per interviewer. (2)

Measurement and Calculation Math

  • May track the number of interviews completed in each time slot, for example, each 15 minutes. (1)
  • May calculate areas, using measurements provided by interview respondents. (2)

Data Analysis Math

  • May calculate the number of phone calls required to obtain a particular number of interviews in a day and compare this to results obtained in previous days for the same survey. (1)
  • May examine monthly statistical reports to compare their production to that of their co-workers. (1)
  • May calculate averages of selected survey factors, such as the average number of graduates in a program over time. (2)

Numerical Estimation

  • May estimate the amount of time it will take to complete the interviewing or the coding for a survey, based on the time taken to complete the first few questionnaires. (1)
  • May estimate the number of people who can be reached at a certain time of the day and the number who will agree to participate in a survey, based on the subject of the survey. (2)
  • May estimate how long it will take to complete a new survey when assisting a manager bidding for a contract. The estimation is based on many factors including complications, which could occur. (3)

Oral communication

  • May speak to individuals being interviewed to obtain information. (1)
  • May call institutions to point-out that the data they submitted is incomplete. (1)
  • May persuade resistant persons to participate in a survey interview. (2)
  • May interact with co-workers to share experiences and offer encouragement. (2)
  • May interact with supervisors to discuss work schedules and problems, such as the late submission of data. (2)
  • May speak to the survey client to clarify the intent of particular survey questions. (2)
  • May communicate with editors who are preparing reports from the survey data. (2)
  • May participate in meetings to discuss survey work and time lines with co-workers and administrators. (2)


Problem Solving

  • May find out half way through an interview that the person being interviewed does not fall into the category being surveyed. They find a way to end the interview without annoying the person. (1)
  • May encounter technical problems, for example, the computer moving to the wrong part of the survey during the interview. If the problem cannot be resolved quickly, they stop the interview and reschedule it. (1)
  • May find that persons contacted are unwilling to participate in the survey. They try to overcome their resistance, remaining pleasant but persuasive. (2)
  • May find that many respondents have a common misunderstanding of a survey question. They find ways to clarify the question while respecting the wording which was chosen and approved by the client. (2)
  • May encounter missing data when coding interview responses. They try to find a way to collect the missing information. (2)
  • May find that initial statistical tables reveal unusual results that might arise from coding errors or data capture errors. Such results are explored and problems resolved. (3)

Decision Making

  • May decide when to end an interview which has become unproductive or hostile. (1)
  • May decide how much they can change the wording of an unclear question without compromising the integrity of the survey. (2)
  • May decide when to question the suitability of particular companies or organizations for inclusion in a survey sample, if it appears that the sample group is not suitable in terms of the survey goals. (2)
  • May decide when to call an organization which is sponsoring a survey to get some background information on questions which appear to be sensitive to respondents. (2)

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Although survey interviewers and statistical clerks receive their assignments from supervisors, they plan the sequencing of their own tasks to meet the general deadlines. They co-ordinate their work activities with co-workers to ensure that the work is clearly divided among them. Work on one survey is generally completed before beginning a new one; however, they are sometimes expected to respond to an emergency request by beginning a new survey at very short notice. At such times, they must reorganize their work schedule and priorities. (2)

Significant Use of Memory

  • May remember a respondent's answer to an open-ended question long enough to write it down.
  • May remember streets covered in a survey.
  • May memorize codes which are used to record survey information.
  • May memorize the introductory paragraphs of a survey questionnaire so that the material does not have to be read each time.

Finding Information

  • Find addresses and phone numbers using customer lists or business and city directories. They may use a template with a phone book to select phone numbers randomly. (1)
  • Refer to coding sheets when coding responses to a survey. (1)
  • Refer to reference manuals for industry information or company procedures. (2)

Digital technology

  • Use other computer applications. For example, they may respond to prompts on the computer screen when coding information from a telephone interview. (1)
  • They may write memos and production reports. (2)
  • They may access names and phone numbers in a customer database and enter information. (2)
  • They may produce reports. (2)
  • They may communicate with clients and co-workers via e-mail. (2)
  • They may prepare a pie chart. (3)
  • They may produce statistical tables. (3)
  • They may program survey items into a computerized questionnaire format. (3)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Survey interviewers and statistical clerks work independently most of the time, co-ordinating their work with co-workers who may be working in the same room. While most survey interviewers work at the survey firm's location, some work from their own homes, reporting to the company only to attend meetings.

While survey interviewers and statistical clerks may be members of a project team, they perform most of their work independently.

Continuous Learning

Survey interviewers and statistical clerks participate in information sessions at the beginning of each survey project to learn how to conduct the survey. They learn from supervisors, co-workers, survey sponsors and computer programs. They may receive instruction in telephone manners and group interaction.