Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) survey methodology refers to survey data collection by in-person (face-to-face) interviewers using devices such as computers, smartphones, and tablets to administer the questionnaire and capture the answers. CATI surveys are structured interviews, flowing as dialogues between two people and guided by predefined questionnaires loaded and driven by a computer device.


CAPI methodology is best suited for complex investigations involving long and detailed questionnaires. The interviewer can help explain intricate questions, demonstrate how to fill in the questionnaire, and ensure the appropriate display of videos or other forms of stimuli.

In this article, we walk through the Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) methodology, its benefits, and the steps needed to execute CAPI surveys.

Types of CAPI Surveys

Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing surveys can be categorized into two types determined by how the sampling is handled.

  • Named CAPI surveys – where the researchers know the respondents beforehand and can make appointments to conduct the study. An example would be interviewing managers of companies or medical professionals in a city. It is possible to feed the CAPI system with a database of participants. The researcher can preload known respondent information. At GeoPoll, we call this CAPI and CATI feature Sample Management.
  • Anonymous CAPI surveys – conducted randomly, for example, on a street where the researchers do not know the respondents and may need to screen them by observation and using profiling questions.

Benefits of CAPI Surveys Over Traditional Paper Surveys

  • Guidance – CAPI facilitates logic checks, skip patterns, and validations during the interview to make the survey more efficient and improve data quality.
  • Efficiency – CAPI saves time and resources in subsequent steps of data cleaning and data entry.
  • Real-time monitoring – CAPI is an excellent tool to monitor enumerators in real-time or later during validity checks. It is possible to automatically record each interview’s start time, end time, and GPS location, making it easy for supervisors to cross-check the processes and manage teams.
  • Real-time results – Data collected through CAPI surveys is immediately relayed for real-time analysis and processing.
  • Quality of data – Validation and quality control of CAPI surveys can be done when filling out the survey, and it eliminates human error during data entry. Sessions can also be recorded for validation.
  • Rich media – During a CAPI survey, the enumerators can take photos, record audio, and take videos to complement the study.
  • Personification – CAPI allows direct contact with the interviewee, which helps complete the questionnaire, both in terms of administering stimulus and offering explanations if necessary. Personal contact makes the interview fluid and warm and may result in greater collaboration from the respondent than in remote surveys.
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CAPI face to face surveys

Steps and Considerations for Planning and Executing a Successful CAPI Project

As with all types of surveys, planning and executing a CAPI survey is dependent on several factors, including the research objective, environmental influences, complexity, and the availability of other methodologies, among others. Below, we look at generic steps to consider based on our experience and standard CAPI processes:

  1. Objectives and methodology choice – Determine the project objectives and factors that justify using CAPI over other methodologies. Consider the time and cost of the fieldwork, its scope, and its limitations.
  2. Map the project – Design a work schedule to execute the research project, from ideation to data collection, to analysis and reporting.
  3. Software selection – Evaluate and choose the best CAPI platform and apps to use. At GeoPoll, we have developed an ecosystem for CAPI surveys that includes the Interviewer App tailored to emerging markets and backed by our data processors for data validation, analysis, and reporting.
  4. Hardware selection – Evaluate and select the computer equipment or mobile devices used for the data collection. It is advisable to use devices with internet connections for a real-time relay of data and portability for convenience. GeoPoll uses smartphones and tablets.
  5. Personnel recruitment and training – Several factors go into selecting personnel to perform the CAPI survey in the field (interviewers or agents). There are language and cultural nuances to consider, education levels, knowledge of the subject matter, and more. The team also needs to be trained well on how to conduct effective surveys, how to use the selected apps and devices, and how to flow through the specific survey they will be administering.
  6. Pilot testing – A lot can go wrong in any research project. It is therefore imperative for researchers to meticulously pilot test the survey with the interviewers and devices in the field. This process can then be used to adjust the questionnaires, provide post-exposure training, adjust the verbatim, and correct any errors detected.
  7. Fieldwork – After a successful pilot, the actual data collection can commence. If applicable, arrange appointments with respondents or get the interviewers on the ground, making sure that the data collection app and devices are being used and working as planned. Monitor the survey process, detect and correct errors on the go, measure the length of the interviews (LOI), and track the productivity of the team. The GeoPoll Interviewer App includes all these functionalities.
  8. Data consolidation and validation – Data is only as good as its integrity. Whether real-time or after the data collection process, it is crucial to perform quality checks and ensure that everything checks out.
  9. Data analysis – The data collected and cleaned from the CAPI survey can then be tabulated and analyzed, and the open-ended questions coded according to the research question and objectives.
  10. Final report and delivery of results
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Conduct Mobile-Based In-person Surveys Anywhere in the World

GeoPoll administers face-to-face surveys through our own Computer-Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) mobile application, which is specifically built for use in emerging markets and includes features such as offline capabilities, remote progress tracking, and interviewer metrics. We can conduct face-to-face interviews via CAPI in almost any country in the world and have experience in responding quickly to fast-moving situations. Please contact us to discuss your CAPI project needs.