Tag Archives: many ways to (try to) make a living, but none are easy

Direct VS indirect critique in a workplace

I received the first critique of my work performance in the interviewer job recently. My Supervisor politely made me aware that my admin hours are too high, which means that I spend too much time checking and correcting interview forms. So I asked how much time admin is expected to take per workload on average, and she told me:

  • How much time they expect me to spend on average per assignment
  • How much time she spends (having years of experience)

A clear guideline. I didn’t know before she told me since I never see anyone else’s hour sheets, so I had no benchmark. Therefore I followed my natural inclination to be as thorough and detail-oriented ‘as possible’*. It may have been exacerbated by my great respect for my employer and desire to please them. So now I know, and can adjust my time consumption VS zealousness balance to a viable level.


Graph shows the trade-off between cost and quality
‘The cost of quality’ by Linda Bourne.
(source: Project Manager.com.au)


My supervisor spent the rest of the conversation giving positive feedback, and overall the conversation left me feeling good but aware that I need to adjust my admin time. So now I am trying to rein in my pedantic tendencies.


Memory flash back

Then I came to think of a comment that confused me several months ago, made by one of the office ladies during the last interviewer assembly. Continue reading

Dead tired

Dead tired after a 2.7 hours work day (interviews, admin and driving)… That is not a typo. And the day followed a good night’s 14 hours of sleep*. I hope I’ll be able to improve my stamina a bit.



The research interviewer role is a hyper flexible part time work. The flexibility means, primarily, that the interviewer has to work around the respondents schedules and be willing to work whenever it suits respondents – any time and day.

Interviewers do have a fair bit of freedom to decide suitable days and times of day to recruit households and conduct the short interviews. The employer expects to see variety in the times of day for the visits to maximise the chance of catching all respondents at home, but apart from that the scheduling is open.

I work a few hours per day on most days of the week, locally, and I guess that is a nice soft way to get used to work regularly again. A few hours in a row; flexible; independent; no workplace politics. Although, soft start or not, coming home feels post-marathon like**.
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Research interviewer training course

The interviewer training course for my new part time job as a research interviewer stretched over two weeks with a total of one week’s course work (spread out) plus homework.

The training days were intensive and comprised going through the interviewer handbook from cover to cover, doing exercises and discussing scenarios, categories and definitions (and tricky obscure grey zone cases), and undertake interviews as role plays.

The course culminated in an assessment session where each trainee undertook a row of simulated interviews involving tricky scenarios. The assessment interviews were monitored by the supervisors and the forms checked by the office’s data entry staff right in front of us. An excellent, effective yet relaxed exam; and great practice too.

The oracle handbook

The interviewer handbook was the training’s backbone. It pretty much has the answer to any potential problem in chronological order.

The handbook follows the structure of the interview procedure from initial contact, communication and rapport building over interviews to the admin procedure and paysheet records. Every code and category of the interview forms has its own sub-chapter with numerous examples of when they apply and when they don’t.


Scene from Disney movie up: balloon-driven house flies away

Sample loss

There are sections about how to motivate the respondents through attentive listening (which details key attentive listening techniques and how to combine them), and one with common respondents objections with a script for how to address every one of them.

I like how there is a rule for any choice and a script for any communication. I wish I had a handbook like that for my life, that would solve many problems.


Scene from Disney movie Up: kids reads his scout book script for the old man at his entrance door

Scripted communication (we are supposed to memorise it though)

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