Face-to-Face Surveys: A Quick Guide

Retain a hint of personal touch in the digital era with face-to-face surveys.

Market research 04 12

What are Face-to-Face Surveys?

Face to Face Surveyscvr

Face-to-face surveying is a survey method that allows interviewers to communicate with respondents directly. This survey method allows for the investigation of complex issues as interviewers can comprehensively explain questions, ask interviewees to expand on answers, and allow non-verbal cues such as body language to be identified. 

Although this method of surveying was traditionally the most common method of conducting surveys, its use has decreased significantly over time. This is mainly due to the increase in the popularity of other cheaper and more convenient alternatives, such as email surveys and other web survey methods. Additionally, due to the pandemic, the use of the face-to-face survey method declined even more due to public health and safety concerns. 

This brings us to the robust mobile-offline survey tools that retain the traditional manner of F2F surveys with the advantage of digital data collection. For example, with Voxco Mobile Offline, you don’t need to carry around paper surveys and manually upload responses. You can use a mobile device instead to gather data on the field and automate data collection.

Voxco helps REACH establish secure connections in rural Puerto Rico with its mobile-offline software.

Types of Face-to-Face Surveys

Face-to-face surveys can be categorized into two main types based on how interviewers approach respondents. Although this is a traditional data collection method, it has evolved in this digital era with the evolution of mobile-offline survey tools.

Organizing and identifying calls made easy


As the name suggests, in this method, you gather data by visiting potential respondents at their homes. These areas are often chosen because they have a significant amount of sample of respondents in one area. These respondents tend to have similar demographic characteristics that qualify them to be a part of the target population. 

Door-to-door surveys are often used for public opinion polling, brand image and positioning studies, and usage and preference studies.

Identifying barriers


This survey method provides access to a more diversified group of respondents from different geographical areas. It involves interviewers approaching respondents at public places such as malls, theaters, food courts, the street, or any other area where the target population may be found. This method involves choosing sample units based on convenience, so the reliability levels may be questionable.

“Voxco Mobile Offline helps us efficiently manage multiple projects and interviewers simultaneously. The platform extends our ability to productively manage our busy intercept survey projects, and the confidence to support major new clients.”

Laura Ruvalcaba, President & CEO
Brain Research

Importance of Face-to-Face Surveys

Face-to-face surveys remain significant in the world of data collection for the following reasons.

In-depth Insights

It offers a unique opportunity to delve deeper into complex issues and engage the respondent further with follow-up questions. Using F2F surveys you can probe for detailed responses and gather rich insights by surveying them one-on-one.


A personal interview with the respondent may foster trust and build a rapport between the researcher and the participant. It can make them feel relaxed and comfortable to share sensitive responses or unfiltered opinions with a human interviewer instead of an impersonal online survey.


Face-to-face surveys help you reach segments of the population that may not have access to the internet or may lack literacy. This allows you to reach them where they are and gather their data, which enables you to accurately represent marginalized groups along with other demographics.

Tailored approach

You can adapt to the social setting or physical environment of the respondents to make it convenient for them. For example, you can read out the questions and answer options for a person with low reading ability or translate the language as per the respondent’s choice to make it more accessible to a diverse audience.

Quality control

Conducting in-person surveys allows for real-time survey quality control. You can identify misunderstanding, lack of engagement, or survey fatigue in real time and address the issue to maintain data quality.

Conduct dynamic personal interviews even with no network connection on Android tablets and mobile phones.

Voxco Mobile Offline is the flexible CAPI software you need to manage face-to-face data collection projects.

Advantages of Face-to-Face Surveys

Face-to-face surveys play a crucial role in helping you establish trust with respondents and gather nuanced data. Here are some benefits of this survey type.

More Accurate Screening

As F2F surveys involve the use of an interviewer or moderator, interviewees are unable to be dishonest about information relating to gender, age, or race. This helps with more accurate screening relative to other survey methods, such as web surveys.

Helps keep the Interviewee Focused

In online and mobile surveys, respondents are often in the midst of other technological distractions such as texts and emails. In face-to-face interviews, the moderator is in control of the interview. They keep the interviewee focused and ensure the completion of the survey.

Allows for the Capturing of Non-Verbal Cues

Face-to-face interviews allow for the capturing of verbal and non-verbal cues. Non-verbal cues, such as body language, may be significant indicators of a respondent’s feelings toward a topic. Moderators can assess the interviewee’s discomfort or enthusiasm based on the topics being discussed. Additionally, emotions and behaviors can also be assessed in face-to-face surveys.

Flexibility to Probe Deeper

In face-to-face surveys, verbal and non-verbal cues can be identified to help interviewers probe deeper when there are any indications that a respondent may have more information to disclose on certain questions/topics.

Longer Interviews

Respondents are more likely to tolerate a long face-to-face survey rather than a long web survey or a long email survey. This is because the respondent will find it more convenient to express long, open-ended answers orally rather than in writing.

5 Unique uses for CAPI survey software!

Disadvantages of Face-to-Face Surveys

You should also be careful of some challenges when deciding if it is the most appropriate method of meeting the needs of your target population.


Face-to-face interviews are one of the most expensive methods of data collection as they require a staff of people to conduct the surveys. Labor/personnel costs are the highest cost a business can incur, so it is hard to keep costs low in the face-to-face method of surveying.

Limited Sample Size

The size of the sample group is limited to the interviewing staff and financial resources of the study. Face-to-face interviews may need to be conducted over multiple geographical areas through several interviews, further increasing costs.


Gathering data from respondents through face-to-face surveys is often very time-consuming. Additionally, if the study is focusing on a wide geographical area, a lot of traveling may be involved to survey different respondents. This adds a lot more time required for the interviewing process.

Quality of Data may Depend on the Interviewer

The quality of the data recorded will often depend on the skills and perception of the interviewer. Some interviewers may also have biases that may skew the way the data is recorded, making the data less reliable.

Tips for Conducting a Face-to-Face Survey

Conducting an effective face-to-face survey requires careful planning and execution. 

  1. Ensure that the interviewers are well-trained to interact with participants and make them feel comfortable to share their opinions. 
  2. Respect the participant’s decision. To gather reliable responses, you cannot force participation. You need to foster a sincere connection with the respondents. 
  3. Ensure people have time to take the survey/answer your questions, and make the interview as smooth as possible. 
  4. Ask concise and clear questions without any ambiguity to mitigate misunderstanding that can lead to inaccurate responses. 
  5. Train interviewers to listen to the respondents. 
  6. Ensure that interviewers understand the importance of obtaining consent and inform participants of the same. 
  7. Train interviewers to maintain neutrality during the surveys.

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