FACE SHEET VARIABLESSeeDEMOGRAPHIC ITEMS.
FACE-TO-FACE INTERVIEW An interview conducted in the physical presence of the respondent. Face-to-face interviews require that respondents be located and interviewed at home, while shopping, in the office, after voting, and soon, virtually any place that people live, work, or play. The expression personal interview is often employed as a loose synonym for face-to-face, but careful usage maintains a distinction between the two terms. In personal interviews, the interviewer asks questions and records answers; both face-to-face and telephone surveys are personal interviews. But face-to-face requires physical presence, while telephone surveys rely on the interviewer's voice conducted over phone lines ( Weisberg, Krosnick, and Bowen, 1989:84-92).
Face-to-face is one of three major interviewing modes used in polling. The other two are telephone surveys and mail polls. Face-to-face interviews once were the standard for survey research, preferred to telephone or mail almost without exception. This is no longer true ( Dillman, 1978:6-11). Face-to-face interviews do have advantages. They are particularly good for long interviews (over thirty minutes) or for complex subjects. Rapport is stronger with face-to- face, and data quality is generally better. And they are effective in locating hard to reach populations like the elderly, poor people, and minorities.
But two major problems plague face-to-face interviews. One of these is money. Face-to-face interviews are two to three times as expensive as telephone and five to six times as expensive as mail. Many surveys are price-sensitive, resources are limited, and the least expensive interviewing mode is attractive ( Backstrom and Hursh-Cesar, 1981:19-23). One rule of thumb is that the cost of a telephone poll is (currently) $1.50 per person, per minute. Face-to-face interviews cost two or three times as much, or $3.00 to $4.50 per person per minute.