IQCS benchmark standards
Our standards were designed to facilitate quality management and have been refined over the years by the operational stakeholders themselves to ensure that working to IQCS standards will most definitely help member companies structure and streamline processes – saving both time and money.
The focus of the Standards is both on ensuring staff are adequately trained, supported and appraised, as well as providing assurance to clients that consistent quality is maintained.
We survey our members annually to continually evaluate the Standards and ensure they are relevant and current. Periodically standards are reviewed to reflect any shifts in working practices, staffing requirements or the impact of new legislation and comments and requests from the membership are taken into consideration for input before draft, amended version is circulated to members for comment.
Feedback from members is that they feel that adoption of the Standards produces positive benefits for staff – facilitating their work, helping them feel more productive and appreciated and that client confidence in IQCS accredited data-collection leads to repeat business.
Principles of the Interviewer Quality Control Scheme
- Member companies are committed to maintaining and developing all aspects of the quality of their fieldwork;
- Members build on the basic framework of the minimum mandatory standards;
- Standards are comprehensive, clearly defined and actionable; Independent inspections of each field-force cover administration, recruitment, training, appraisal and validation;
- Clients can be certain that basic standards of administration and fieldwork are being maintained to an agreed minimum level across all member companies;
- Fieldwork membership is open to everyone in the industry who wants to belong to a scheme, which specifies benchmark fieldwork standards and is willing to be independently audited by an IQCS inspector or as part of the ISO20252 registration;
- User membership is open to everyone who buys IQCS fieldwork;
- Scheme run by Council members representing member companies and industry organisations – MRS, MRQSAB and AQR
The aim of the Interviewer Quality Control Scheme (IQCS) is to ensure that all member companies operate to the same minimum standards in respect of recruitment, training, supervision and respondent/data validation; ultimately to reassure clients that all data is being collected to acceptable and ethical standards.
All member companies are inspected annually by an independent inspector. Only 48 hours notice of inspection need be given. Adequate supporting documentation must be kept to demonstrate to the IQCS inspector that the standards are being adhered to.
Records must be kept for each interviewer, recruiter and auditor and include details of: Application; References; Recruitment; Training; Jobs worked;
Appraisal and Validation; Annual Identity Card issue (where relevant).
The typical role of a supervisor involves interviewing and selecting new recruits, training, conducting appraisals, allocating work, progress chasing and validation checking. All supervisory staff must be adequately and appropriately trained for all supervisory tasks allocated to them.
All individuals working on a project must be adequately Briefed (by post, telephone, tape, and video or in person)
Interviewers are required to sign a Market Research Society Code of Conduct declaration.
Briefing and interviewing documentation and details of validation are kept on file, along with full records of Interviewers used and sample achieved.
Signed thank you leaflets or letters are given or sent to respondents following face-to-face interviewing.
Training for interviewers who have had basic training by another IQCS company is a minimum of three hours. If not, full training is a minimum of twelve hours for face-to-face interviewers and six hours by auditing and telephone centre interviewing.
Training for those taken on solely to conduct group recruitment must be of sufficient duration to ensure the individual is adequately and appropriately trained and competent to work alone.
Additionally, as part of their training, individuals are accompanied/assessed on their first job.
Subsequently, interviewer appraisal frequency and type is dependent en the number of jobs conducted in a year, i.e. if used on five or more projects, two (or more) appraisals where at least one includes face-to-face accompaniment. If three or four projects in a year, one (or more) appraisal to include a face-to-face accompaniment. If used less frequently one appraisal every alternate year.
Individuals who only recruit groups or work on mystery shopping evaluation do not need to be formally accompanied. They should however, be appraised in accordance with the number of jobs they work on in a calendar year
A minimum of 10% of the sample is validated (5% for telephone centres who validate by remote listening in). A systematic, representative method is used for selecting individuals and a substantial proportion of their work is checked.
The questions asked verify that the interview has been conducted according to instructions. Discrepancies are reported promptly.
There are detailed standards for face-to-face interviewing, qualitative recruitment, telephone interviewing, executive interviewing, computer assisted personal interviewing, auditing and mystery shopping observation research to allow for the various differences in the interviewing circumstances but the same general principles apply for all types of work.
The detailed standards are designed to guide companies in achieving the level of quality control required for membership of the IQCS. Adherence to the basic standards for Administration and Recruitment, Training, Appraisal of Interviewers and Validation of fieldwork is mandatory. The standards provide a basic framework but individual companies may exceed these standards.