What is it?

Interviewing people on-site to conduct a survey (also known as ‘intercepts’) is a good way to gather data about your attendees – and their experience – while it is fresh in their minds.

Why use it?

Intercepts are especially useful for non-ticketed experiences, free activities and outdoor events. They are also useful when your database is too small to obtain a reliable sample, or you want to hear from people not in your database.

Before you start

Is this tool right for you? To find out more about selecting the best tool check out the project planner.

What you'll need

Time1 day to prepare, 1-2 weeks lead time, 2-3 weeks to collect results, 1 day for reflection.
BudgetAdditional staff time (if needed).
EquipmentiPad, paper, pens, consent forms.

Top tip

Intercept survey questionnaires should generally be shorter and/or simpler than online surveys. Test it out with your attendees to make sure it doesn’t ask too much of them on-site. Try to keep your interaction to five minutes.

Step by step

1. Think about your skills and resources

People need three skills to successfully conduct intercepts for research:

  • Friendly, approachable manner
  • Ability to read situations and people, so you can approach people when it’s appropriate
  • Ability to use a tablet or iPad, and input information into Excel or an online survey tool.

There are three things to consider when conducting intercepts for research:

  • Who in your organisation most aligns with the above list of skills?
  • What support and resources are required to prepare for on-site surveying?
  • How many people will be working with you?

2. Decide how to collect and record information

Choose a method to collect and record information – keeping in mind your considerations listed above. Today, many choose to use an electronic device (such as an iPad or other tablet) to collect information. This way, the information collected is ready to analyse, and doesn’t require you to manually enter it into a digital format such as Excel for analysis. Manual data entry takes time! If you don’t have access to a device, it’s worth asking around to see if you can borrow one from another organisation in your local area.

3. Give consideration to young people, children and vulnerable groups

Think about the age of attendees you’re expecting. If they are under 14, their parent or the responsible adult they are with will need to consent to them participating, or the adult will need to participate instead. For those aged 14 to 17, their parent or the responsible adult they are with may need to consent to them participating, or the adult may need to participate instead. This will depend on the type of information you’re collecting.

Consider how you’ll provide universal access to vulnerable groups. Find out more in our accessibility guide.

Check out the AMSRS Guidance on Interviewing Children and Young People.

4. Prepare for your on-site survey

Ensure everyone has the skills to collect the information. You may need to train people on a number of skills:

  • When, where and how to intercept and approach people
  • How to use a particular device
  • How to use a particular survey platform.

Check out this on-site research briefing template. Start thinking about what information you need to share with field workers before and on the day:

  • Information about the research
  • Key contact details if someone has a question or if technical help is needed
  • Methods of approaching people, including any scripts you write, and key information when approaching people.

Make sure you understand what information needs to be shared in your survey and everyone knows what to share verbally with respondents. You can read more about it in the get consent guide.

5. Working out who you should approach

To work out who you should approach with your survey, you’ll need to know the sample size of respondents you need along with your expected number of attendees. If you haven’t already, check out the calculate your research sample size guide to understand how many respondents you’ll need and to find out who you should approach in a non-biased way. You also need to consider three things:

  • The number of fieldwork days you need
  • The time of day you’re collecting information
  • The days of the week you’re collecting information.

This is to make sure you have a balanced approach. You can read more about this in the calculate your research sample size guide.

6. Conduct your on-site survey

You’ll need to have five items ready on the day:

  • Device (pre-loaded with your survey, for example) or paper to collect information
  • A backup copy of the On-site Research Template
  • Any other materials required i.e. FAQs
  • A backup plan e.g. in case devices don’t work, etc
  • Relevant information about your organisation’s workplace health and safety requirements, access to water, lunch breaks etc.

Do a test run from beginning to end with every volunteer when they first start to see if there are any questions or issues that arise. Put together a simple checklist for yourself, your staff or volunteers to complete at the start of each session. We’ve outlined some ideas below.

  • Check the device is fully charged
  • Test the device and any links to data collection platforms
  • Have a copy of the on-site research briefing template on hand, including key contact details and FAQs.

Where to position fieldworkers

Consider positioning your fieldworker towards the exit point of your venue, in their typical ‘path of travel’. By approaching people after their experience, attendees can reflect on their entire experience as they are leaving.

Multiple people surveying

If you want to have more than one volunteer collecting information, consider:

  • How many is too many? You don’t want more fieldworkers than attendees
  • Where should each be positioned? You want to avoid attendees being asked to participate more than once

7. Monitoring and adjusting your approach

Your approach should be tested and monitored over the first few days of your survey being in field. Adjust your approach if your number of responses are not sufficient or if fieldworkers are encountering difficulties. Remember to document your approach and any changes to it, so you can include it in your reporting.

8. 'Thank yous' and debrief

At the end of your fieldwork and information collecting period remember to thank all your fieldworkers and anyone who has assisted the process.

Consider hosting a short debrief session to get feedback on three points:

  • What worked well?
  • What was challenging?
  • How could it be improved next time?

9. Analyse and share your results

Now you’re ready to analyse your results with the help of the analyse your data tool.

Consider running a Results Workshop. Check out the results workshop agenda.

If you run this workshop, invite one or two key fieldworkers so they can assist in interpreting the findings. In the workshop they could share their on-the-ground experience and also have a chance to see what happens after the information is collected.

Once you’ve analysed your results head to the write a research report tool.

Finally, send a follow-up email to fieldworkers and/or people who participated in your research and share your key findings and the actions you’ll be taking.