Evaluating Interviewer Style for Collecting Industry and Occupation Information

David Cantor and James L. Esposito

Abstract

As part of the monthly collection of job-related data on the Current Population Survey (CPS), interviewers ask four open-ended questions pertaining to the respondent's industry and occupation (I/O) status, and record responses to these questions as closely to verbatim as possible. Recorded information is subsequently coded into three-digit I/O categories at the Census Bureau's coding facility in Jeffersonville, IN. The purpose of this paper is to report on research examining the effects of the interviewer's data-collection style (e.g., probing strategies, recording efficiency) on the quality of the information collected and the accuracy of the I/O codes subsequently generated. The study involved asking Census Bureau coders to listen to a set of audiotaped CPS CATI interviews and to: (a) record relevant information necessary for coding the case, (b) classify the descriptions into appropriate I/O categories, and (c) comment on the interviewers' probing style. Analyses of these data were useful in identifying the types of problems interviewers have when administering the I/O questions and led to a set of recommendations for improving the quality of information collected in the I/O series of the CPS.