A face-to-face survey through questionnaires is an effective means of interviewing, involving physical appearance of interviewer to ask the survey questions while also helping the respondents in answering the questions (Böhrer, Aichele, Bach and Martin, 2001). Face-to-face survey, that is a mode of survey delivery, can be more effective than telephone and mail survey and questionnaires, as it offers less complexity and provides quality data. However, this advantage is not enough to prefer the face-to-face questionnaires as it also involves considerable increased costs and stressed on the need of source of responses (Durant and Carey, 2000). Many studies have found different difficulties in face-to-face questionnaires because effective questionnaires demand to comply with certain regulations. Since face-to-face survey involves physical existence of the interviewer at interview spot because of traveling to the location of respondent, interviewer can play an important role in making face-to-face questionnaire effective through applying various tactics (Jarlais, Cooley and Paone, 2002).
Other studies have demonstrated the difficulties in face-to-face questionnaire from the perspective of respondents. According to Babbie (2008), the process of face-to-face questionnaire requires a lot from the respondents and it is easy for them to fulfill the requirements. Therefore, interviewer has to be conscious about reaching and asking the questions from respondents. In addition, many respondents may find it rather easier to respond to face-to-face questionnaire, as it does not require the respondent to focus on more than one object thus it is more convenient for respondent to answer.
Risks and Advantages of Face-to-Face Questionnaires
Face-to-face questionnaire involves interviews by selecting the controlled sample of the target population and reaching them at their location. However, face-to-face questionnaires provide with the opportunity to view more complex issues to be discovered through using visual aids. According to Gillham (2000), however, there are advantages for conducting face-to-face questionnaires that he explains as the way to modify and adapt the question for the ease of respondents to answer the questions. One of the most significant advantages is that interviewer with his appearance can clarify the doubts of respondents about the questions and ensures the understanding of respondents with the questions such as repeating the questions, rephrasing the questions and so on. According to Gubrium and Holstein (2002), the interviewer can also pick non-verbal cues from the respondents and discomfort or stress about the questionnaires that is more likely to experience by the respondents can be reduced in face-to-face questionnaires. In this regard, it is important for the interviewer to be well aware of the non-verbal or body language of the respondents so that he could judge the stress or problem of respondents regarding questionnaires. However, this signifies the importance of levels of communication used from both parties as it can determine the development of understanding between respondents and interviewers. According to Gobo, Gubrium and Silverman (2004), face-to-face questionnaires provide the interviewer with opportunity to attain desired outcomes by understanding the expression of respondents. According to Brace (2008), face-to-face questionnaire can also be advantageous as it allows probing and verification of answers of respondents from interviewer and further allows the respondent to spontaneous. A face-to-face questionnaire guarantees that questionnaire is being handed over to the right participants in which order of questions can be changes according to requirements.
However, there are certain risks or disadvantages of face-to-face questionnaires. According to Brace (2008), the main risks involved in the face-to-face questionnaires are the geographical limitations and resources required to conduct the questionnaires. Moreover, it could be costly in relation to approaching the respondents and traveling to far wide places. One of the most important risks is the uneasiness and discomforts that respondents can feel in the presence of interviewer or face-to-face questionnaires (Mills, Willoughby and Ernst, 1998). According to Brace (2008), face-to-face questionnaire can be less useful specifically for sensitive topics as it requires secrecy. Other than that, face-to-face questionnaire can be ineffective due to bias behavior of interviewer. If face-to-face questionnaire has to be conducted on the larger geographical area, it will require more time than telephone and postal surveys.
Role of Communication in making the Face-to-face Questionnaires Effective
According to Brace (2008), thesis writing provides help for conducting and undertaking the interview. A face-to-face interview or questionnaire provides interaction between interviewer and respondents, conserving the significance of asking and answering the questions. This provides evidence that communication has important role in making questionnaire either effective or ineffective. For understanding, the way to conduct effective face-to-face questionnaires, there is need to analyze different aspects of communication that can affect the face-to-face questionnaires, as it is communication that has been identified as core of making face-to-face questionnaires effective.
According to Rubin et al (2009), communication is a collaborative process rather than competitive, because it forms two way process for exchanging ideas through verbal as well as non-verbal interaction. It is significant to notify that communication involves interchange of two different ideas through interaction while one-way process can make communication ineffective. Communication is a mutual sharing of ideas and information through written, oral, non-verbal form and therefore it mainly affects the process of information and knowledge sharing. If it is assumed that face-to-face questionnaires are process of information sharing, then communication can be concluded as the means to influence the effectiveness of process information sharing. According to Lay (2002), when it comes to the role communication concerning making face-to-face questionnaire effective, it is significant to classify the communication as it involves in-depth scope. Moreover, according to Lay (2002), an in-depth study of importance of communication can be studied in relation to interviewers’ efforts in making the face-to-face questionnaire effective. According to Rubin et al (2009), communication is commonly divided into two main types including verbal and non-verbal communication. According to Brace (2008), both verbal and non-verbal communication is intensely important for making the information sharing effective and efficient. The communication from the perspective of interviewer is to be able to explain and communicate the objectives of the research questionnaires to respondents. This can be considered a significant step for the interviewer to understand and convey what he is endeavoring to get from the respondents. It is outcomes of the questionnaire that is first gathered in the form of answers from the respondents, if research questionnaire outcome is not productive or useful it can be considered that objectives of research and depth of questions were not communicated appropriately by the interviewer to respondents. An effective face-to-face questionnaire requires the interviewer to plan and understand different mediums of communication such as verbal and non-verbal communication. Such planning regarding communication aims to have thorough preparation and well-structured interview for respondents and interviewer.
Since both, oral or written communication is all about understanding the message by receiving the message successfully; the main concern of the communication is to understand the ideas and information conveyed. Verbal communication is the most effective and efficient communication, based on the conversational communication. In addition, verbal communication is composed of the sound, which is well structured by the language. Face-to-face questionnaire is an important process of information sharing and verbal communication provides the variety to describe the feelings, ideas, and reasons to argue.
Effective Speech as means to Effective Verbal Communication
In verbal communication, speech is used as the first and the foremost that enables the interviewer and respondent both to inform, comment, question and instruct. Moreover, improving speech as important part of verbal communication can include different elements. The considerations to these elements can help the interviewer to understand how to use the verbal communication to enhance the effectiveness of face-to-face questionnaire. According to Rubin et al (2009), conversation between individuals occurs based on personal experience, feelings and knowledge. In a face-to-face questionnaire, conversation or talking may involve sharing the information based on personal experience and knowledge. However, the way interviewer approaches to respondents and converse with him for questionnaire is the main concern of relationship between verbal communication and effective face-to-face questionnaire. According to Rees (1996), an interviewer in face-to-face questionnaire can comprehensively use specific conversational ways, which can start with common conversation to specific for objective base conversation. In a face-to-face questionnaire, interviewer must consider using specific statements enquiring details of what concerns him or her or hire a coursework writing service to undertake the interview. Moreover, it can also include the expressions of feelings, opinion and values.
Effective Listening as means to Effective Speech
According to Lay (2002), in order to make effective verbal communication for face-to-face questionnaires, interviewer must consider that effective speech requires effective listening. According to Bowling and Ebrahim (2005), listening cannot be avoided and can be differentiated from non-verbal communication. Interviewer in face-to-face questionnaire must be an active listener and able to understand the active way of providing feedbacks to the respondents. Listening is not only used to comprehend the speech of either of party but also to communicate the feelings, opinions and interest of them. However, non-verbal communication can easily be understood by observing the eye contacts, facial expressions and a nod but in a verbal communication, these aspects may be ignored as verbal communication involves the agreement of words and meanings. As far as effective listening is concerned, voice plays an important role in the verbal communication because specific voice can change the meaning as well as quality of communication. In verbal communication, tone of voice and unique voice may be used to deliver specific meaning of situations. An interviewer can be active to understand the meaning of particular voice, which can signal the message.
According to Key (1980), in face-to-face meetings non-verbal communication is as significant as verbal communication. According to Lepkowski (2008), in face-to-face questionnaire, an interviewer can better receive the information through non-verbal communication. According to Brace (2008), non-verbal communication is often referred to body language and understanding with non-verbal communication can be developed through using techniques because non-verbal communication is often done unconsciously. The most favorable example of understanding non-verbal communication is to observe body language during conversation such as throwing arms during talking and take sudden sharp breath. During a face-to-face questionnaire, an interviewer needs to focus on such non-verbal signals so that he could add the meanings to outcomes and combine the results to give an immediate impression in a way that written communication or other verbal communication cannot do. An interviewer can understand the non-verbal communication through actions, which includes postures, gestures and eye contacts of respondents. Different researches have shown evidence that non-verbal communication can have significant impact on the acceptance or rejection of the interviewers and respondents. In addition, non-verbal communication can provide effective and useful information about holding information or honesty in the answer of the question of respondents.
Action as means to understand the non-verbal communication
Action as non-verbal communication may be an important part of communication process between interviewer and respondents in face-to-face communication. It can mainly involve the posture, gestures and eye contact of respondents.
Posture: During face-to-face questionnaire, interviewer can observe the posture of the respondents such as the way they stand or sit or in other words, understanding the way they feel by their posture. Through posture of respondent, interviewer can understand if respondent is anxious or nervous. Commonly, individual with fidgeting, tapping or drumming fingers on tables can be judged as nervous or anxious. Similarly, individual sitting back in the chair with crossed legs can be understood as less nervous and rather confident. According to Riggio and Feldman (2005), the understanding with non-verbal communication requires individual to be keen observer because person conversing with other person may not be able to concentrate much on the expressions and postures. Interviewer with ability to observe keenly even can judge the respondent with gloomy expression and can predict that person lifeless is possibly feeling depressed and dejected. The interpretation of such non-verbal signals and action as essential to create good and effective relation can influence the face-to-face questionnaire and its outcomes.
Facial Expressions: According to Lepkowski (2008), human facial expressions convey intense message and considered as the strongest non-verbal communication demonstrations. The facial expressions can include wide range of expressions and emotions of individuals. Facial expression of respondents in face-to-face questionnaire can be additional source of information for gathering useful data. According to Rees (1996), facial expression conveys emotions as well as feelings of an individual thus; inability of interviewer in face-to-face questionnaire to understand the facial expressions can bring about low rate of responses from the questionnaire respondents. Commonly, a smile of individual can be interpreted as display to good humor, while raised eyebrows show questioning and frowned eyebrows show the sadness. The well-developed understanding with facial expression can be useful for interviewer to provide assistance for questionnaire if required.
Gestures: Gesture can be defined as the common articulate of non-verbal communication, taken as effective non-vocal body language that is more likely to express the meanings. Hands, arms and eyebrows are the body parts that are used to articulate and include movement of heads, eyes and face. According to Hinde (1975), nodding faces and winking of eyes are the most common practice in gestures as non-verbal communication. However, there are certain limitations between verbal and nonverbal communication due to gestures and body language. According to Evans (2008), effective communication can be considered as means to achieve the effective face-to-face questionnaire. However, gesture is the most significant aspect of the non-verbal communication it can refer to unique body language such as shaking as signal for anger, sweeping-arms for showing thrill and enthusiasm, while movements of hand is used for emphasis. Interviewer may not greatly rely on only information provided through observing the gestures but he could assess a lot about the respondents through observations. Listening can play an important role in interpreting the meanings of gestures such as nodding which refers to agreements, shaking may refer to disapproval and placing hands on chin shows thoughtfulness of individual. An interviewer can be active o understand through reading these signals.
Eye Contact: The eye contact is also important in non-verbal communication because it denotes to eye contact of an individual such as direct eye contact may be interpreted as openness, comfort and confidence. Lack of direct eye contact is the demonstration of unsure, and sign of uncomfortable. The interviewer during the face-to-face questionnaire can judge respondent who is not looking into his eye as not interested and can save his time rather than just expecting that he would answer the questions. Since eye contact shows the involvement of individual during conversation, if interviewer is less likely to have proper eye contact with the respondents he can leave impression of respondents as he is not sure of if he is doing right thing.
This research paper has focused on the study about making a face-to-face questionnaire effective through examining verbal as well as non-verbal communication as tool. The study has identified the significance of communication in the face-to-face questionnaire process and considered the risk and advantages of face-to-face communication. However, face-to-face questionnaire interviews are used for smaller defined populations than larger one, along with advantages and risks involved in face-to-face questionnaire, it is found that ineffective communication by interviewer can reduce the possibility to gain productive outcomes. Considering the importance of communication skills for interviewer, it can be concluded that both verbal as well as non-verbal communication is important for the interviewer to be aware of (Brace, 2008).