The Comprehensive Guide to Computer-Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) Surveys


How Face-to-Face (CAPI) Surveys Can Push Your Research Forward Product Survey
Table of Contents

In the world of data collection and research, technology has revolutionized the way surveys are conducted. One such advancement is the Computer-Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) survey. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into what a CAPI survey is, its benefits, challenges, implementation process, and its significance in modern data collection.

What are CAPI Surveys?

A Computer-Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) survey is a method of data collection in which an interviewer uses a digital device such as a tablet or laptop to administer a survey questionnaire to respondents. 

Unlike traditional pen-and-paper interviews, CAPI surveys digitize the entire process, from questionnaire design to data collection and storage. The interviewer asks questions directly from the device, and the responses are recorded in real-time, eliminating the need for manual data entry.

In the next section, let’s learn about the different types of CAPI surveys.

What are the different types of CAPI Surveys?

There are several different types of Computer-Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) surveys, each catering to specific research objectives and data collection needs. 

Let’s take a look at all of them:

Structured CAPI Surveys: Structured CAPI surveys follow a predefined questionnaire with fixed-choice questions. These questions have a set of predetermined response options, such as multiple-choice, yes/no, or rating scale questions. Structured CAPI surveys are particularly useful when the research aims to gather quantitative data and statistical analysis is the primary focus.

Semi-Structured CAPI Surveys: Semi-structured CAPI surveys combine structured and open-ended questions. While the core of the questionnaire follows a predetermined structure, respondents are also given the opportunity to provide detailed, qualitative responses. These surveys are suitable for obtaining a deeper understanding of respondents’ opinions, experiences, and perspectives.

Unstructured CAPI Surveys: Unstructured CAPI surveys consist primarily of open-ended questions. Respondents are encouraged to express their thoughts and opinions in their own words. While these surveys yield rich qualitative data, analyzing and categorizing open-ended responses can be more time-consuming and complex compared to structured surveys.

Longitudinal CAPI Surveys: Longitudinal CAPI surveys are designed to collect data from the same respondents over multiple time points. They are particularly useful for tracking changes, trends, and developments in respondents’ attitudes, behaviors, and circumstances over time. Longitudinal surveys require careful planning to ensure data consistency and minimize attrition.

Multimedia-Enhanced CAPI Surveys: These surveys incorporate multimedia elements such as images, videos, and audio clips to enhance the survey experience. Multimedia can be used to provide context, demonstrate concepts, or gather visual feedback. Multimedia-enhanced CAPI surveys are beneficial when visual stimuli are essential to understanding the survey content.

Mobile CAPI Surveys: Mobile CAPI surveys are specifically designed for smartphones and tablets. They leverage the mobility and touch-screen capabilities of these devices to create user-friendly survey interfaces. Mobile surveys are suitable for reaching respondents on-the-go and capturing real-time information in various settings.

Offline CAPI Surveys: Offline CAPI surveys allow interviewers to collect data without requiring a continuous internet connection. This is especially useful in areas with limited or unreliable connectivity. Data collected offline can be synced with the server when an internet connection becomes available.

Mixed-Mode CAPI Surveys: Mixed-mode CAPI surveys combine different data collection methods, such as face-to-face interviews and self-administered online surveys. Respondents might complete part of the survey with an interviewer and the rest independently. Mixed-mode surveys can help researchers reach diverse populations and accommodate respondents’ preferences.

Event-Based CAPI Surveys: Event-based CAPI surveys are designed to capture data related to specific events or experiences. For example, these surveys could be used to collect immediate feedback after attending a conference or participating in a workshop.

Cross-Cultural CAPI Surveys: Cross-cultural CAPI surveys require careful consideration of cultural nuances and language differences. These surveys are adapted to suit different cultural contexts while maintaining the integrity of the research objectives.

What are the Benefits of Using CAPI Surveys?

There are several benefits of using CAPI surveys:

Accuracy and Consistency: CAPI surveys reduce human error by eliminating manual data entry, leading to more accurate and consistent results. The data captured is directly integrated into a digital format, minimizing transcription errors that can occur with paper-based surveys.

Real-time Validation: CAPI systems can be programmed to perform real-time validation checks on responses. This means that if a respondent provides an invalid or inconsistent answer, the system can prompt the interviewer to clarify or correct the response immediately.

Efficiency: The use of digital devices streamlines the survey process, making it more efficient. Interviewers can navigate skip patterns easily, and the survey software can even automatically skip irrelevant questions based on previous responses, saving time for both the respondent and the interviewer.

Multimedia Integration: CAPI surveys can include multimedia elements such as images, videos, and audio clips. This can enhance the survey experience and provide a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Real-time Monitoring: Supervisors can monitor ongoing interviews in real-time, allowing for quality control and the ability to provide assistance to interviewers if needed.

Remote Deployment: In some cases, CAPI surveys can be conducted remotely, enabling researchers to reach respondents in remote or inaccessible areas without the need for physical presence

However, while CAPI surveys offer numerous advantages, they are not without challenges.

What are some disadvantages of using CAPI Surveys?

Using CAPI surveys comes with a set of limitations and challenges such as:

Technical Issues: Technical glitches such as device malfunctions or software crashes can disrupt the survey process and lead to data loss.

Cost and Infrastructure: Implementing CAPI surveys requires initial investment in digital devices, software licenses, and training for interviewers. This can be a significant upfront cost, especially for smaller research projects.

Data Security: Storing sensitive respondent data electronically raises concerns about data security and privacy breaches. Robust security measures must be in place to protect the collected data.

Digital Divide: Despite the prevalence of technology, not all respondents may be comfortable with or have access to digital devices, potentially leading to a bias in the sample.

Training: Interviewers need proper training to effectively use the CAPI software and handle technical issues that may arise during interviews.

However, if you choose the right CAPI survey software like Voxco, you can easily knock off many of these disadvantages. Now let’s learn how you can implement a CAPI survey. 

How to Implement a successful CAPI survey?

Implementing a CAPI survey involves several key steps. Let’s take a look at those steps:

Step 1: Questionnaire Design

Create a well-structured questionnaire that takes advantage of the digital format. Incorporate multimedia elements where appropriate and program skip patterns to optimize the survey flow.

Step 2: Software Selection

Choose a reliable CAPI software that aligns with your research objectives. Ensure that the software offers features such as real-time validation, multimedia integration, and data encryption.

Step 3: Training

Train interviewers on how to use the CAPI software, troubleshoot technical issues, and effectively conduct interviews using digital devices.

Step 4: Pilot Testing

Before full-scale deployment, conduct pilot tests to identify any issues with the survey design, software functionality, or interviewer training. Make necessary adjustments based on the feedback.

Step 5: Data Security Measures

Implement robust data security measures to protect respondent information. This includes encryption, secure data transmission, and restricted access to collected data.

Step 6: Monitoring and Quality Control

Establish a system for real-time monitoring of interviews to ensure quality control. Address any issues that arise promptly.

Step 7: Data Analysis

Once data collection is complete, export the collected data from the CAPI system into a data analysis software for further processing and analysis.

Now that you are aware of the benefits of CAPI surveys and learnt the process of implementing CAPI surveys, learn how you can use them. 

What are the uses of CAPI Surveys?

CAPI surveys have become a crucial tool in various fields and can be used for various purposes such as:

Market Research: CAPI surveys enable market researchers to gather consumer preferences, buying behavior, and feedback on products and services more efficiently, leading to informed business decisions.

Public Health: CAPI surveys are utilized to collect health-related data, track disease outbreaks, and assess healthcare needs in a timely manner.

Social Sciences: Researchers in social sciences use CAPI surveys to study demographic trends, education, poverty, and other societal factors, facilitating evidence-based policy development.

Environmental Studies: CAPI surveys aid in collecting data related to environmental conservation efforts, wildlife population assessments, and climate change impact assessments.

Why use Voxco Mobile Offline?

Voxco offers a really easy-to-use and intuitive CAPI software called Mobile Offline that you can use to implement CAPI surveys. Here are some reasons you should give it a try: 

  1. A question type for every methodology: All standard and the advanced question types in one centralized tool.
  2. Multimedia capabilities: Build audio and video into the surveys. And let interviewers capture responses in a multimedia format too. 
  3. Customized look & feel for your brand: create visually stunning surveys by changing colors, adding your logo, brand images, and much more. 
  4. Powerful logic: Skipping, piping, looping, branching, you name it! We can do it.
  5. Tweak things on the go: You can make changes to a questionnaire that can be pushed quickly to interviewers in the field doing surveys.


Voxco released an update to its Mobile Offline platform that is more closely aligned with Android standards, streamlined navigation, and refreshed interface for improved usability. 

Following are the excerpts from a conversation with our ex Mobile App Developer, Dominic Lacaille to get his team’s perspective on building Version 3! 


Dominic Lacaille

Ex Mobile App Developer, Voxco

Did the team’s perspective shift when you embarked on updating Voxco Mobile Offline?

A lot of the time us programmers tend to think of problems logically, we identify a problem and devise a solution. We don’t usually think of design along the way. 


We identified that many issues with the application were due to design and we were dedicated to making it better. The new synchronization bar at the bottom now shows progress and what is being synchronized, while adhering to Google’s design standards.  


I think recalibrating our focus on design made us realize how important it was for any product we build.


What was a key challenge that you overcame when working on it this time around? How’d you overcome it?

I think the key challenge was to think outside of the box when it came to the design of the app. We really had to forget what was already there in the application and question ourselves: “Is this really the best way to use this?”

Another big challenge we had was supporting large surveys. Interviews in Voxco Online run on very powerful servers and it was tricky to make sure surveys run just as fast on something you can have in your pocket. It’s really surprising what today’s phones and tablets can do.

What new features are you most excited about?

The new synchronization bar for sure! It makes the app feel snappy and productive for the user. I also really like the new survey details page that shows respondents and quotas just by scrolling.

sync progress bar blog


Anything you’d like people to know about what goes into building a product like this?

Lots of love went into this update, we hope it can bring a positive change to our client’s productivity and appreciation towards this product.


Computer-Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) surveys have transformed the landscape of data collection by leveraging technology to enhance accuracy, efficiency, and real-time validation. While challenges such as technical issues and cost exist, the benefits outweigh these obstacles. 

By following a systematic implementation process and addressing potential concerns, researchers can harness the power of CAPI surveys to gather valuable insights across various domains. As technology continues to advance, CAPI surveys are likely to play an increasingly significant role in shaping the future of data collection and research.

Read more

Read more

Social Surveys1

Product Survey Questions

Product Survey Questions SHARE THE ARTICLE ON Table of Contents A product survey is a series of questions sent to a subset of our user

Read More »
Customer Experience Trends to Watch out For in 2021 05 1 1 1

Quantitative Research

SURVEY METHODOLOGIES Quantitative Research: Definition, Methods & Examples Get your quantitative research started with Voxco Request a 15 min discovery call SHARE THE ARTICLE ON

Read More »
How Face-to-Face (CAPI) Surveys Can Push Your Research Forward Product Survey

Logical Data Model

Logical Data Model SHARE THE ARTICLE ON Table of Contents A logical data model is a non-specific database model that outlines the objects about which

Read More »

Data Migration: What is it?

Data Migration: What is it? SHARE THE ARTICLE ON Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on linkedin Table of Contents Introduction Many businesses are

Read More »

Process Automation

Process Automation SHARE THE ARTICLE ON Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on linkedin Table of Contents Process automation speeds up or simplifies manual

Read More »

This post is also available in French.