Effective Strategies for Recording Interviewer Observations: Evidence from the PASS Study in Germany

This article investigates how different strategies used by interviewers when recording interviewer observations relate to observation accuracy. Before conducting interviews in a refreshment sample of the general population for the German PASS panel study, interviewers were asked to observe one key target variable of the study — whether a household is at risk of poverty or not — for all sampled households. In addition, interviewers recorded what strategies they had used to make their observations. For responding households, we assessed the accuracy of the observation by comparing it to an actual survey measure of poverty risk. Separate multilevel regression models attempting to explain the observed interviewer variance in observation accuracy for two types of households (those at risk and not at risk of poverty) using case-level strategies and aggregate interviewer tendencies reveal unique strategies that result in more accurate observations for each type of household. An aggregate fixed-effects model then reveals strategies that prove to be effective regardless of the type of household when accounting for unobserved interviewer heterogeneity.