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Questionnaire vs. Interview: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 11, 2023
A questionnaire is a set of written questions for obtaining information, while an interview involves a verbal exchange to gather data.

Key Differences

A questionnaire refers to a structured set of written or printed questions, typically multiple-choice or open-ended, designed to gather specific information from respondents. On the other hand, an interview involves a live interaction, usually verbal, between the interviewer and the interviewee with the purpose of gathering in-depth data on a topic.
Questionnaires are often used when researchers or organizations need to gather data from a large number of respondents. The questions are standardized, meaning every respondent answers the same set of questions. Interviews, however, offer more flexibility. Interviewers can adapt or change their questions based on the responses they get, diving deeper into specific areas of interest.
In a questionnaire, the respondents' understanding of the questions can vary, and there is no immediate way to clarify any misunderstandings. With interviews, the interviewer can provide clarifications, probe deeper, or ask follow-up questions to get richer, more detailed answers.
The mode of administration is another differentiating factor. Questionnaires can be administered electronically, mailed, or handed out in person. Interviews are generally conducted face-to-face, though they can also be done over the phone or through video conferencing. Both questionnaires and interviews have their own advantages and drawbacks, and the choice between them often depends on the research objectives.

Comparison Chart


Written or printed
Verbal (face-to-face, phone, video)


Typically non-interactive
Interactive, with real-time feedback


Standardized questions
Questions can be adapted or changed on-the-fly


Can be electronic, mailed, or in person
Usually face-to-face, but also phone or video

Clarification Possibility

Limited; misunderstandings might not be immediately addressed
Immediate clarification is possible

Questionnaire and Interview Definitions


A questionnaire is a written or printed set of questions designed to gather information.
The health department sent out a questionnaire to assess the community's nutritional habits.


An interview is a formal meeting between an interviewer and interviewee for discussion.
The reporter set up an interview with the celebrity to discuss his latest movie.


A questionnaire is a tool used in research to collect data from multiple respondents.
The students were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their study habits.


An interview is a conversation where questions are asked to obtain information.
She was nervous about her upcoming job interview at the tech company.


A questionnaire is a structured document that solicits responses to gain insights.
Companies often use a customer satisfaction questionnaire to improve their services.


An interview is a method of qualitative research where insights are gathered through dialogue.
The anthropologist conducted interviews with villagers to understand their customs.


A questionnaire is an instrument for surveying opinions, behaviors, or facts.
The city council used a questionnaire to gauge public opinion on the new park project.


An interview is a structured exchange to gain in-depth information on a specific topic.
The author included several interviews in her book to give readers a personal perspective.


A questionnaire is a method for obtaining standardized data from a specific group.
The therapist provided a questionnaire to understand the patient's feelings and concerns.


An interview is a face-to-face interaction used in recruitment to assess a candidate's suitability.
After three rounds of interviews, he was selected for the managerial position.


A form containing a set of questions, especially one addressed to a statistically significant number of subjects as a way of gathering information for a survey.


A formal meeting in person, especially one arranged for the assessment of the qualifications of an applicant.


What is an interview?

A conversation where questions are asked to obtain information.

How are interviews typically conducted?

Usually face-to-face, but can also be over the phone or via video conferencing.

What is a questionnaire?

A written or printed set of questions designed to gather information.

How is a questionnaire administered?

It can be electronic, mailed, or handed out in person.

Can interviewers clarify doubts in real-time?

Yes, interviewers can provide immediate clarification.

What is the main advantage of an interview?

It offers depth, flexibility, and the possibility of immediate clarification.

What is the main advantage of a questionnaire?

It can efficiently gather data from a large number of respondents.

Can interview questions change during the session?

Yes, interviewers can adapt based on the interviewee's responses.

How do questionnaires handle misunderstandings?

They may have limited ways to address misunderstandings as they're often non-interactive.

Is an interview a qualitative or quantitative tool?

Typically qualitative, but can have quantitative elements.

How are questionnaire results typically analyzed?

Using statistical methods or software.

Are questionnaires always standardized?

Typically, yes. They have a set list of questions for consistency among respondents.

Which is better for large samples, questionnaire or interview?

Questionnaires are typically more efficient for large samples.

Can questionnaires be anonymous?

Yes, respondents can often complete questionnaires without revealing their identity.

Do interviews always have a single interviewer?

Not always; there can be panel interviews with multiple interviewers.

Is a questionnaire a qualitative or quantitative tool?

It can be both, but it's often used for quantitative data collection.

Which is more time-consuming, a questionnaire or an interview?

Interviews generally require more time due to their interactive nature.

Which provides more in-depth data, questionnaire or interview?

Interviews generally provide richer, more detailed information.

How are interview results typically analyzed?

Through qualitative analysis methods like coding and thematic analysis.

Can both questionnaires and interviews be used in the same study?

Yes, many studies use a mixed-methods approach for a comprehensive view.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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