Questionnaire vs Interview: Difference and Comparison

Key Takeaways

  1. Questionnaires are a widely used research tool designed to collect data and information from a target audience.
  2. Interviews are a qualitative research method that involves direct face-to-face or virtual interactions between a researcher and a respondent.
  3. In questionnaires, there is no real-time interaction between the researcher and the participant. At the same time, interviews involve direct interaction, allowing the researchers to probe, seek clarification and adapt questions based on the respondent’s answers.

What is a Questionnaire?

Questionnaires are a widely used research tool designed to collect data and information from a target audience. They are a structured set of questions that respondents answer in writing, either on paper or electronically.

Questionnaires are a valuable method for obtaining quantitative and qualitative data, making them versatile in various fields, including social sciences, market research and healthcare.

The primary advantage of questionnaires is their scalability and ability to gather information from a large and diverse sample of participants. Researchers can use close-ended questions with predetermined answer choices to collect numerical data efficiently. Open-ended questions also allow for more in-depth responses, offering valuable insights into participant’s perspectives and experiences.

However, creating effective questionnaires requires careful consideration of the question’s wording, order and the response options provided. Properly constructed questionnaires can yield biased or accurate data.

What is an Interview?

Interviews are a qualitative research method that involves direct, face-to-face or virtual interactions between a researcher and a respondent. They are precious, while in-depth understanding, context, and nuanced insights are required. Interviews come in various formats, including structured, semi-structured and unstructured.

The significant advantage of interviews is their ability to provide rich, detailed information that questionnaires cannot capture. Through open-ended questions and dialogue, interviewers can explore complex topics and probe for deeper understanding.

However, Interviews also have limitations. They can be time-consuming, expensive, and subject to interviewer bias, where the interview’s characteristics influence the responses. Additionally, the richness of qualitative data collected through interviews can make data analysis more complex.

Difference Between Questionnaire and Interview

  1. Questionnaires involve a written or electronic set of questions that participants answer independently, without direct interaction with a researcher. At the same time, interviews are conducted in a face-to-face or virtual setting where a researcher asks questions directly and receives responses in real-time through conversation.
  2. In questionnaires, there is no real-time interaction between the researcher and the participant. At the same time, interviews involve direct interaction, allowing the researchers to probe, seek clarification and adapt questions based on the respondent’s answers.
  3. In a questionnaire, questions are in written or selected format, while in an interview, responses are verbal and can be more open-ended, providing richer qualitative data.
  4. Data from questionnaires are easier to analyze, as responses are quantifiable. In contrast, interview data are more complex and may require more in-depth qualitative analysis, which can be time-consuming and subjective.
  5. Questionnaires can be administered to many participants, making them time-efficient, while interviews are more time-consuming due to their one-on-one nature.

Comparison Between Questionnaires and Interviews

ParametersQuestionnaireInterview
Method of data collectionWritten or electronic set of questionsFace-to-face or virtual setting, no real-time interaction
Level of InteractionThere is no real-time interaction between the researcher and the participantInvolves direct interaction between the interviewee and the interviewer
Response FormatTypically written or selected formatAlways verbal and are more open-ended
Data AnalysisTypically easier to analyzeData is more complex and may require more in-depth analysis
Time FrameAdministered to a large number of peopleMore time-consuming due to their one-to-one nature
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References
  1. https://scholarworks.umass.edu/pare/vol15/iss1/1/
  2. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781003460053-7/questionnaire-interview-methods-adam-podg%C3%B3recki

Last Updated : 22 January, 2024

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