Survey field team recruitment

The composition and skills of the survey field team are essential to ensure that the work is performed systematically and is of high quality. Personnel must be qualified, highly motivated, and available to work full time for the duration of the survey training and field work.

Key skills for interviewers include the ability to:

  • efficiently ask questions, record and manage information in both paper-based and electronic-based formats according to the expectations of the role and the training guidelines;
  • enlist household cooperation, put respondents at ease and ask questions in a calm, natural way;
  • demonstrate an understanding and consideration of any local cultural practices or beliefs that might affect a respondent’s willingness to respond to certain questions;
  • troubleshoot problems that may arise; and
  • communicate and work as part of a team.

Specific skills required for phlebotomists and field laboratory technicians include the ability to:

  • collect and process biological specimens according to the survey protocol;
  • conduct phlebotomy correctly and quickly (whether venous puncture or capillary (finger stick or heel stick collection), in particular from young children, where this is a requirement for the survey;
  • collect samples in a calm, confident manner, putting the respondent at ease; and
  • demonstrate an understanding and consideration of any local cultural practices or beliefs that might affect a respondent’s willingness to provide biological specimens.

Some national contexts require that government nurses, phlebotomists and laboratory technicians are included on each survey team. Where these staff are not able to be away from their usual job for the duration of the training and field work period, it is recommended to assign them to work only in their home region. This strategy has the advantage of potentially improved trust and survey response rates among the community due to the government personnel’s understanding of the local culture, traditions, and language, and because they are a recognized part of the government health system. In these situations, it will be necessary to recruit a larger number of personnel to participate as part of the survey team, each for a shorter period of time. This will increase the demand for training and supervisory support.