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SAMRA Interviewer Code of Conduct Guideline

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Code of Professional Behaviour of Interviewers

Set out hereunder is a summary of the ESOMAR/SAMRA Code of Conduct for market research interviewing in Southern Africa. This summary refers only to aspects relevant to interviewing, but the ESOMAR/SAMRA Code of Conduct should be read and understood in its entirety. The Code sets out the basic principles that must guide the actions of those who carry out or use market research. In the event of a conflict between this summary/guidelines then the ESOMAR/SAMRA Code of Conduct shall prevail.

Responsibilities to respondents

  • The respondent must be able to check your SAMRA accreditation to make sure that you are an accredited interviewer. Approach people courteously when you request an interview, show your SAMRA accreditation card, and introduce yourself as a market research interviewer and give the name of the company that you work for.
  • Always act in a manner which maintains the good name of market research, and public confidence in it.
  • Respect the respondent’s time and convenience, accept a refusal without a question, at once: just smile and say thank you.
  • Do not disclose the identity of a client or respondent, unless they said that you are allowed to do it or if there is a legal reason. You are also not allowed to tell anybody anything about the client’s ( or respondent’s) business unless they say that you are allowed to.
  • No children who are younger than 14 years may be interviewed if the parent/guardian/adult who is responsible for the care of the child did not give their permission. Look at the part “Guidelines to interviewing children and young people” on the next page.
  • Always show good manners, look your best, dress appropriately for the place and circumstances where you are working, and don’t take cell phone calls, eat or smoke during the interview.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your supervisor about anything that isn’t clear in the instruction for the research. If you understand fully, you will work with confidence and that communicates itself to the people you interview and make the experience of interviewing more successful for them and for you.

Professional Responsibilities of Fieldworkers’/interviewers’

  • Market research must never be used to get confidential information about competitive products and companies from respondents who have signed confidentiality agreements with those competitors.
  • The purpose of market research is to collect raw data and analyse information. We do not sell a product or influence the opinions of those taking part (that is, we do not tell respondents what to think).
  • The interviewer agrees to keep confidential and not give away or tell any of the Company’s trade secrets, confidential documents/client lists/technical know-how and data/ trade agreements/systems/ chemical formulae/ software/ programs/ marketing/ technological and or any other confidential information.
  • The respondents’ answers must be written down or captured neatly and accurately.
  • If you promise an incentive (which you have been authorised to promise) to respondents you must keep your promise.
  • No interviewer may use the information about the respondent to start any other activity or to give the respondent’s information to a third party.

Guidelines on Interviewing Children and Young People 

Children are defined as children younger than 12 years old and young people are defined as children between 12 and 18 years old

When the interviewer asks children or young people and the information that you are asking for is “sensitive information” you must get the permission from a parent/guardian/responsible adult to do the interview.

  • You must firstly reasonably satisfy yourself that the responsible adult is authorised to give the permission required and
  • Secondly, when you ask the permission of the responsible adult to interview the young person/child, you must give the person responsible for the child enough information so that he or she can decide if they should give their permission.

You must write down the name of the person who gives you permission to do the interview with the child/young person. It is recommended that you get permission in writing if possible.

A lot of research is done among children and young people for both economic and cultural reasons. Although this is a valid and valuable form of research, interviewers must be very careful and follow special precautions.

In the case of interviewing children under 12

  1. Where a survey is being carried out within a “protected environment”, for example in a school or leisure centre where an adult in authority has overall responsibility for the protection and safety of the child, then you must get the permission of the relevant adult in authority and respect of the place must be obtained and write their name down before conducting the interview.
  2. If you do an interview with a child in “any other environment” i.e. home/street/public places/group discussions/in-depth interviews, you must get the permission of the parent, guardian or other person, e.g. child minder or neighbour who is looking after the child, before the child is approached for an interview. You must never approach a child for an interview if he or she is not with an adult. In all cases you must make reasonable enquiries to satisfy yourself that the person giving permission is lawfully entitled to do so.
  3. A child must not under any circumstances be approached for an interview unless he or she is accompanied by an adult. It is normally unnecessary that the permission must be in writing (although this is recommended) as long as you have written their name down on the questionnaire.

In the case of ALL children and young people

In cases involving the testing of any products the interviewer must take reasonable care to check that:

  • That the child or young person does not suffer from any relevant allergy, e.g. allergic to products with nuts, milk products, etc.
  • Children and young people do not become involved in any illegal action, e.g. the under-age consumption of alcoholic products/ smoking test products, etc.
  • If you are going to ask the child to test any product, the responsible person must be allowed to see this and, if they want to, to try it themselves.
  • Pay attention to the degree of maturity of the child or young person involved.
  • Make sure that the necessary steps are taken that the young person is not worried about, confused or mislead by the questionnaire.

Where the information that you are asking for is “sensitive information”, interviewers must ask for the permission of a responsible adult.

In all cases you must make reasonable inquiries to satisfy yourself that the person giving permission is lawfully entitled to do so.

The difference between market research and direct marketing

Direct Marketing Primary objective of direct marketing is to sell a product/service

You must never do direct marketing activities and say that you are doing market research, for example selling and promotion of products or services or do fundraising or anything that is not market research and tell the respondent that you are doing market research.

Market Research Primary objective of market research is to collect and analyse information

Interviewers should be open and honest and clear when you work with a respondent. They must make it clear to respondents that all information collected during the interview will be treated confidentially and that nobody will try to sell something to the respondents. The information that you get may only be used for the purpose of research. The information will not be used to start or look at other types of action directed at the individual respondents.


Mystery Shopping 

“Mystery Shopping” is a research technique that has been used for a long time.

Roles of the interviewer:

  • The approach involves the use of interviewers who are specially trained, are used to look at and measure the quality of the services and how services are being offered to customers
  • They get the required information by going to or telephoning the organisation’s outlets or other points of contact with the public, and act as if they are actual or potential customers for such services and do a series of pre-determined tests looking at behaviour/ displays, etc. and/or interviewing
  • It is very important that interviewers follow the SAMRA Code of Conduct and adhere to laws regarding Data Protection when they do this kind of work
  • Interviewers must not do Mystery Shopping studies for non-research purposes, such as checking the performance of specific people for possible disciplinary action or as a method to boost production distribution or sales by making it look like there is a consumer demand for a product or service.

SAMRA expects interviewers to follow the following requirements when carrying out Mystery Shopping research:

  • Interviewers must take great care to minimise the risk of any disruption to the organisation that they are researching.
  • The interviews must not be taped or video-recorded nor recorded on a mobile device unless respondents have given their permission in advance. Electronic recording of interviews is not permitted if this could endanger the secrecy of respondents.
  • Nobody must be able to identify individual members of staff in the report.

Pharmaceutical Market Research

Responsibilities towards respondents:

Doctors have a duty of confidentiality towards their patients. They can only provide information about patients in connection with a market research project if this information is given in a confidential form.

It is permissible for doctors to cooperate in a market research project among their patients:

  • The doctor can act as a go-between between the interviewer and patients by inviting patients to take part in the study. He must make sure that the patients’ cooperation is entirely voluntary. The doctor gives the questionnaire to the patients and returns the completed questionnaire to the interviewer in anonymous form so that the identities of the patients concerned are at no stage revealed to the interviewer.
  • The patient can decide whether or not they wish to cooperate in the survey, and if they decide to take part, they must sign an agreement. This agreement by the patient must be in writing.
  • Where an interview or group discussion between interviewers and doctors or other “professional” respondents are recorded on audio, video and digital recording the respondent’s anonymity must be protected. The required safeguards are set out in the Guideline on “Tape, Video and Digital recording”.
  • Market research must never be used to get confidential information about competitive products and companies from respondents who have signed confidentiality agreements with those competitors.

Tape, Video and Digital recording and client observation of interviews and group discussions

Respondent’s agreement to the use of recording

Respondents must be told – always at the beginning of the interview or group discussion – that tape, video and digital recording will be used and permission must be obtained.

Respondents must be told about the recording at the end of the interview, and be given the opportunity to hear or see the relevant parts of the recording and to have these deleted if they so wish.

Safeguards on the release of recording:

Recordings must not be allowed to leave the hands of the interviewer or research organisation carrying out the study unless explicit permission has previously been obtained from all the respondents included in the recording.

When you need permission the interviewer must make sure that respondents are given as much information as possible about the future use of the recording, in particular:

  • Who will receive the recording?
  • Who will most likely see it?
  • The purpose for which it will likely be used?

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