Meet Quotas on Quantitative Research Projects
We need to make sure we speak to all types of people. This means that we have to make sure we fulfill quotas for different age groups, gender, race, household income, etc. So there are times when a person is nice enough to participate, but cannot complete the survey because the quota they fall under has been fulfilled.
As professional interviewers, we have to try to make the most out of every call by navigating through disqualifying respondents.
Here are some tips to help you do that.
Focus on Gender Quotas
When targeting gender quotas, we need to make note of who answers the phone. This way, we can adjust our approach accordingly.
For example, if we need more males to participate, we can approach this situation depending on who answers the phone. If a male answers: Continue as normal; no need to adjust our introduction. If a female answers: We can add the words “…among males” somewhere in our introduction. Then ask: “May I speak to a male in the household?”
Notice that we ask for a male in the household and not the man of the house. Asking for the man of the house eliminates our ability to interview other males in the household who may qualify to participate.
As always, we need to be careful with the words we choose to use.
Focus on Age/Race/Other Quotas
It’s a little harder to navigate through respondents who do not qualify due to age, race, or other reasons. However, what we can do is explain that the quota they fall under has been filled, and then ask: “May I speak to someone else in the household?”
Focus on Registered Voters
If we come across a respondent who doesn’t qualify because they are not registered to vote, then we can simply ask: “May I speak to a registered voter in the household?”
Focus on Quota, but Don’t Eliminate
There are occasions when we need to target a group of people, but don’t want to eliminate anyone yet. For example, when the male cooperation is falling behind, but the female quota is still open. In this case, we would ask: “May I speak to a male in the household?” (To target males first) and if there are no males available, we can then say: “Okay, I can speak with you…” and continue with the female on the phone.
Ask for Someone by Name
Finally, we may need to speak to a specific person. When projects require us to ask for someone by name, we should review the name before the call is answered. This will help us avoid misreading or mispronouncing someone’s name, which can be the difference between being considered a professional and having my calls taken, or being considered a distrustful caller and constantly gets hung up on.
Again, it’s important to notice who answered. If I’m suppose to ask for a female’s name and a female answers the phone, then after introducing myself I’ll ask: “Am I speaking to [female’s name]?” We really should only ask “May I speak to [person’s name]?” if the person who answered the phone is not the same gender as the name we’re asking for.
It’s also important to point out that we should always introduce ourselves before asking for someone. It’s annoying to have to repeat the introduction, but we sound a lot more professional this way. It also explains to other members in the household who we are and why we’re asking to speak to that specific person.
Sometimes people want to know why they cannot participate in the survey. We should take this opportunity to explain: “We want to make sure we speak to all types of people and we have already met the quota you fall under, but we appreciate your time”. This will help avoid people from feeling rejected, which of course, is important.