Difference Between Questionnaire and Interview: Unveiling Key Distinctions

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Ever wondered how researchers gather information? Well, it all boils down to two main methods: questionnaires and interviews. But what sets them apart? How do closed questions affect the response rates we collect from the interviewers? Let’s dive in and uncover the key differences between these two approaches.

Questionnaires involve providing a set of written questions for individuals to answer in a structured way, without direct interaction with an interviewer. On the other hand, interviews involve face-to-face interactions with an interviewer, allowing for real-time responses in qualitative research design.

Understanding the differences between questionnaires and interviews is crucial for researchers. It impacts the quality and depth of information obtained. Researchers must carefully choose which method, interviewer or closed questions, aligns best with their objectives. While questionnaires allow for large-scale data collection and high response rates, interviews provide richer insights through personal interactions and analysis.

Definition and Purpose of a Questionnaire

A survey questionnaire is a structured set of questions designed to gather information from respondents. It is commonly used by researchers and interviewers to collect large amounts of data from a large number of participants. Questionnaires can be administered in person, via mail, or online, providing flexibility in reaching different audiences. In addition to traditional methods, telephone interviews are also a popular way to conduct surveys. Group interviews are another effective method for gathering data from multiple participants simultaneously.

The main purpose of a survey is to gather quantitative data. Researchers utilize questionnaires when they want to obtain measurable responses that can be analyzed statistically. By using standardized questions and response options, questionnaires ensure consistency in data collection. This can be done through various methods such as telephone interviews or group interviews.

Here are some key points about questionnaires:

  • They consist of a series of predetermined questions that respondents answer in a survey. These questions are typically asked over the phone by an interviewer during telephone interviews or in a group interview setting.

  • Questionnaires are a suitable method for collecting data from a large sample size in a survey. Researchers can use interview questions to gather information from respondents.

  • Questionnaire questions can be distributed to the candidate or respondent through various methods, including in-person interviews, mail surveys, or online platforms, to collect quantitative data.

  • Questionnaires are a popular method to gather survey data as they provide anonymity to respondents, enabling them to answer interview questions honestly without fear of judgment. This quantitative data is valuable for evaluating the suitability of a candidate.

  • The use of closed-ended questions with predefined response options makes it easier to analyze the data quantitatively. Respondents can quickly select their preferred candidate from a given list, allowing for efficient data collection. By using a bell curve analysis, we can identify trends and patterns in the responses. This method ensures that the data collected accurately represents the opinions and preferences of the respondents.

  • Researchers often employ questionnaires to gather data from respondents when conducting surveys or studies. These questionnaires are used to collect information from the candidates, such as their preferences, opinions, or experiences. The collected data is then analyzed statistically to draw meaningful conclusions.

Definition and Purpose of an Interview

An interview is a conversation between the researcher and the respondent aimed at gathering information from the candidate. It allows for more in-depth exploration of topics compared to questionnaires. Interviews can be conducted face-to-face, over the phone, or through video conferencing.

The purpose of an interview is to obtain qualitative data or personal insights from respondents. Unlike questionnaires that provide structured responses, interviews offer the opportunity for open-ended discussions with candidates. This allows researchers to delve deeper into specific areas and gain a better understanding of the participant’s thoughts and experiences.

There are different types of interviews that can be used depending on the research objectives. One common type is a questionnaire interview, where the candidate is asked a series of predetermined questions. The respondent’s answers to these questions can provide valuable insights for the research. Another type of interview is the bell interview, which involves asking the candidate a set of structured questions in a specific order. These different interview methods allow researchers to gather data and analyze responses effectively.

  • Telephone interviews are a convenient way for researchers to ask candidates questions over the phone. This method offers convenience for both researchers and participants, as they can discuss the bell waters without having to meet in person.

  • Group interviews: In this format, multiple participants including candidates, Bell and Waters, are interviewed together, encouraging interaction and diverse perspectives.

  • Face-to-face interviews: This traditional method involves meeting with participants in person, allowing for non-verbal cues, building rapport, and ringing the bell.

By engaging in conversations with participants, researchers can uncover rich narratives and gain valuable insights about the bell that may not be captured through other methods. Interviews provide a platform for individuals to express their thoughts openly and share personal experiences related to the research topic of the bell.

Key Differences Between a Questionnaire and an Interview


  • Questionnaires have predetermined questions, allowing respondents to choose from a list of options. The bell rings, and participants can then select their preferred response.

  • Interviews, on the other hand, provide flexibility for open-ended discussions.


  • Researchers have more control over questionnaires as they can design and structure the questions in advance.

  • Interviews offer the advantage of allowing interviewers to probe further and explore responses in real-time.

Response Format

  • Questionnaires use standardized response options such as multiple-choice or Likert scale.

  • Interviews allow for varied responses since participants can provide detailed answers based on their own understanding and experiences.

Time Commitment

  • Completing a questionnaire generally requires less time compared to participating in an interview.

  • Interviews usually involve longer durations due to the conversational nature and potential for follow-up questions.

There are key differences between using a questionnaire and conducting an interview. Questionnaires rely on predetermined questions with standardized response options, providing researchers with control over the data collection process. On the other hand, interviews offer greater flexibility by allowing for open-ended discussions that delve deeper into the topic at hand.

In terms of time commitment, completing a questionnaire is typically quicker than participating in an interview. However, interviews provide opportunities for interviewers to probe further and gain more nuanced insights from respondents. The choice between using a questionnaire or conducting an interview depends on factors such as research objectives, available resources, and desired level of detail in the responses obtained.

By understanding these differences between questionnaires and interviews, researchers can select the most appropriate method based on their specific needs and goals. Whether it’s utilizing closed questions with standardized answer options or engaging in dynamic conversations that elicit varied responses, both approaches contribute valuable insights to research endeavors.

Comparing Method Considerations: Cost, Time, and Data Collection Approaches


  • Questionnaires are cost-effective as they don’t require direct researcher involvement.

  • Interviews can incur higher costs due to travel expenses or hiring trained interviewers.


  • Administering a questionnaire takes less time compared to conducting individual interviews.

  • Interviews can take longer due to their conversational nature and potential follow-up questions.

Data Collection Approaches:

  • Questionnaires rely on self-reporting by participants, introducing response bias.

  • Interviews allow for clarification and probing to ensure accurate data collection.

Time, and data collection approaches of questionnaires and interviews, several factors need consideration.

Questionnaires offer a cost-effective approach as they eliminate the need for direct researcher involvement. Researchers can distribute questionnaires electronically or through mail, reducing expenses associated with travel or hiring trained interviewers. On the other hand, interviews may incur higher costs due to logistical factors such as travel expenses or employing skilled interviewers.

Regarding time considerations, administering a questionnaire is generally quicker than conducting individual interviews. Participants can complete questionnaires at their convenience without requiring real-time interaction with researchers. In contrast, interviews involve face-to-face or virtual conversations that naturally take longer due to their conversational nature. Interviews may necessitate follow-up questions or discussions that further extend their duration.

Both questionnaires and interviews have distinct data collection approaches. Questionnaires rely on self-reporting by participants who provide responses based on their own perceptions and experiences. While this allows for gathering large amounts of data efficiently, it introduces potential response bias as individuals may interpret questions differently or provide socially desirable answers. On the other hand, interviews enable researchers to clarify ambiguous responses and probe deeper into participants’ thoughts and feelings. This interactive approach ensures more accurate data collection but requires additional effort from both researchers and participants.

Ensuring Data Quality: Reliability in Questionnaires and Interviews

Reliability is crucial when collecting data through questionnaires and interviews. It refers to the consistency of measurement in both methods, ensuring that the information gathered is dependable and accurate.

To enhance reliability in questionnaires, it is essential to use standardized questions and provide clear instructions to respondents. By using a consistent format and language, researchers can minimize variations in responses and obtain reliable qualitative data. Conducting pilot tests allows for refining the questionnaire design, ensuring that it captures the required information effectively.

In interviews, reliability can be improved by employing structured interview protocols or training interviewers. Structured protocols outline a set of predetermined questions or topics to cover during the interview, reducing potential bias and increasing reliability in obtaining quantitative data. Training interviewers on how to ask questions consistently and follow the established protocol further enhances reliability.

Both questionnaires and interviews require careful design and piloting to ensure reliable data collection. Piloting involves testing the survey instruments with a small group of respondents before full-scale implementation. This step helps identify any issues or ambiguities in the questions, allowing researchers to make necessary adjustments for better reliability.

By prioritizing reliability in data collection methods like questionnaires and interviews, researchers can confidently analyze primary data collected from respondents. Whether utilizing mail surveys or conducting face-to-face interviews, maintaining consistency throughout the process ensures that detailed information is accurately captured.

Conclusion: Choosing the Right Method for Your Research

To sum it up, when deciding between a questionnaire and an interview for your research, there are several key factors to consider.

Firstly, questionnaires are structured written surveys that allow for large-scale data collection. They are cost-effective and time-efficient, making them ideal for reaching a wide audience. On the other hand, interviews involve direct interaction with participants, providing in-depth insights but requiring more resources and time.

The main differences between questionnaires and interviews lie in their approach to data collection. Questionnaires rely on self-reported responses, while interviews offer the opportunity for clarification and probing. Questionnaires can be completed anonymously, ensuring privacy and potentially reducing bias. Interviews enable researchers to gather rich qualitative data through open-ended questions.

Both methods have their considerations. Questionnaires require careful design to ensure reliability by using clear instructions and standardized response options. Interviews rely on skilled interviewers who can establish rapport with participants and ask probing questions effectively.

In conclusion, choosing the right method depends on your research objectives, available resources, and target audience. If you aim to gather quantitative data from a large sample quickly and inexpensively, a questionnaire is likely the best choice. However, if you seek in-depth understanding or qualitative insights from a smaller group of participants, conducting interviews would be more appropriate.

Ultimately, considering the advantages and limitations of each method will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your research goals.


Which method should I choose if I want detailed responses?

If you desire detailed responses with room for clarification or follow-up questions, conducting interviews would be more suitable than using questionnaires.

Are questionnaires always anonymous?

Questionnaires can be designed to provide anonymity by not collecting any identifiable information from respondents.

Can I use both methods in my research?

Yes, you can use a combination of questionnaires and interviews to gather both quantitative and qualitative data for a comprehensive study.

How can I ensure the reliability of my questionnaire?

To ensure reliability, design your questionnaire with clear instructions, standardized response options, and pilot testing before administering it to participants.

Are interviews more time-consuming than questionnaires?

Yes, interviews generally require more time due to the direct interaction involved. However, they offer the advantage of gathering detailed and nuanced information.