Differences Between Questionnaire And Interview (With Uses)

Updated 30 September 2022

Questionnaires and interviews are both methods for collecting information from a group. They have unique features, serve different purposes and used in different situations. Knowing the difference between questionnaire and interview can help researchers and interviewers achieve their goals and collect meaningful data. In this article, we discuss how a questionnaire differs from an interview and provide their types and uses to help you decide which method to use.

Difference Between Questionnaire And Interview

Understanding the difference between questionnaire and interview can help interviewers and researchers decide the best method for conducting and analysing a data set. It is essential to understand what these two terms mean:

What is a questionnaire?

A questionnaire is a research tool that features a series of questions companies use to collect relevant information from the respondents. It usually comprises a list of questions with multiple choice answers. A company can create qualitative or quantitative questionnaires. They can comprise open or closed questions and often have a mix of both. Typically, open-ended questions enable the respondents to answer in their own words in-depth or with as little information as they want. Closed-ended questions give respondents a series of pre-determined responses from which they can choose. Employers might use a questionnaire to gain insights into a respondent's feelings, experience and behaviour.

What is an interview?

An interview is a discussion or conversation between a potential employer and a candidate. It is a selection process designed to help employers assess a candidate's skills, understand their character traits, scrutinise their personality and verify their domain or technical knowledge. Typically, an interview is a formal meeting process that occurs during the last stage of the hiring process. An interviewer poses a series of questions about a candidate's skills, experience and expertise. It helps a company select an ideal candidate for the job role.

Related: What Is An Interview? (Types Of Interviews And Formats)

What Are The Uses Of A Questionnaire?

Here are some uses of a questionnaire:

  • Works as a low-cost research instrument by government, private enterprises, people, NGOs and groups

  • Serves as an effective way to collect a significant amount of data from many people

  • Helps in collecting information when conducting interviews is impractical

  • Provides quantitative data about people's viewpoints, experiences, past behaviour and values

  • Ensures the anonymity of the respondent when giving answers

  • Allows researchers to compare existing data with historical data and understand the shifts in respondent's choices and experiences

Related: How To Become A Market Research Analyst: A Complete Guide

What Are The Uses Of An Interview?

Here are some uses of an interview:

  • Helps in collecting a rich course of information from a few candidates

  • Helps in conducting qualitative research

  • Ensures the interviewer gets in-depth information about a topic

  • Provides a better response rate because communication occurs face-to-face

  • Allows assessment of confidence, mental strength and candidates' ability to manage stress

  • Provides information on the candidate's opinion, values and beliefs

Related: 7 Types Of Interview Methods With Advantages And Tips

Types Of Questionnaire And Interview Questions

Here are some key differences between a questionnaire and an interview:

Types of questionnaire questions

Here are some common types of questionnaire questions employers might ask respondents:

  • Closed questions: Closed questions provide answers from which the respondents choose one. For instance, ‘How many years of experience do you have?'

  • Open questions: Open questions empower the respondents to answer questions in their own words. For example, ‘How would you define your experience as a manager?'

  • Multiple-choice questions: Multiple-choice questions allow respondents to choose more than one answer from a list of answers. For example, ‘Which colour clothes do you like wearing to the office?'

  • Rating questions: Such questionnaires ask respondents to show their degree or level of experience with their job on a scale of one to five. For example, ‘Rate your experience using project management tools on a scale of one to five.'

Here are the types of interview questions an employer might ask during an interview:

  • Personality assessment questions: Employers ask these questions to assess a candidate's personality at a personal and professional level. It helps in determining whether a candidate fits a company's culture.

  • Skills-based questions: These questions test a candidate's skills mentioned in the job description. It helps determine whether their skills match those required for the role.

  • Qualification-based questions: These questions determine whether a candidate's qualifications match the job description and the role.

  • Behavioural questions: These questions determine a candidate's ability to handle various workplace situations. They show employers how a candidate approaches a problem or workplace challenge.

  • Technical questions: These questions help assess a candidate's technical knowledge and ability in a particular subject. The questions are industry-specific and require in-depth technical knowledge.

  • Brainteaser questions: Typically, an interviewer asks a brainteaser for a job that requires IT and numerical skills. These questions help assess candidates' mental maths and logical reasoning skills.

Related: Open-Ended Vs. Close-Ended Question Examples And Details

Key Differences Between Questionnaire And Interview

Here are some key differences between the two:

Method of collecting data

Collecting data in a questionnaire involves mailing the questions to the respondents in written format or asking them to fill out forms offline at some events. On the contrary, interviews are face-to-face interactions or telephonic or online interactions with the candidates. Also, most questionnaires are objective, but interviews are subjective and require candidates to give meaningful and in-depth answers to questions.

Related: 8 Closed-Ended Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)


A questionnaire comprises a fixed order of questions because it is less complex than an interview. An interview can comprise different types of questions, including technical, behavioural and skill-based, depending upon the job role. An interviewer can easily switch between different questions based on the responses received from the candidate.

Related: Technical Interview Questions And Example Answers


Face-to-face interviews might be costly because interviews take place in the presence of an interviewer. From scheduling interviews to arranging for candidates' travel, interviews are a costly process. The questionnaire is cheaper because the researcher spends less time collecting the data. Companies can give questionnaires to many people simultaneously and researchers can send by mail. This makes it possible to cover wide geographic areas and to get responses from a more significant number of people relatively inexpensively.

Ability to express opinions

A careful selection of questions is essential when sending questionnaires to respondents to avoid confusion and misinterpretation. As questionnaires can keep the respondent detail anonymous, candidates often feel more open to expressing their opinion on controversial questions. In an interviewer, a candidate might find it challenging to express opinions on controversial topics. Also, as a questionnaire requires a respondent to write answers, the reader might interpret a different meaning, which might create confusion. On the other hand, as an interview is an oral communication, a candidate can clearly explain the meaning to the interviewer.

Related: What Is The Purpose Of An Interview? How To Prepare For It


In an interview, a candidate has less time to respond and think before speaking and even an interviewer has less time to evaluate a candidate's skills. A questionnaire gives respondents much time to think and write their responses. Even the person evaluating the questionnaire has sufficient time to mark the answers. Also, some interviews can extend as long as one hour and others might get over within ten minutes, depending upon the role. In comparison, the questionnaire might take less time to complete, especially if it comprises only multiple-choice questions.

Related: Strength-Based Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)


Interviews are an accurate data collection method because they allow interviewers to ask precise questions and extract the desired information from candidates. As this is face-to-face interaction, interviewers can ask in-depth questions to gain quality data for their research. Questionnaires are less accurate because there is no interviewer involved and does not give an option to extract the desired information from the respondent.

Explore more articles

  • 42 Private Equity Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
  • Legal Secretary Interview Questions (And Sample Answers)
  • 8 IBM FileNet Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
  • 11 SAP Accounts Payable Interview Questions (With Answers)
  • 10 Simple And Practical Tips for Acing A Teacher Interview
  • Different Types Of Interviews And How To Prepare For Them
  • 6 Java Support Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
  • 16 Power Electronics Interview Questions (With Answers)
  • Seating Arrangement In An Interview (With Example Answers)
  • 10 ReactJS Interview Questions (With Example Answers)
  • 15 WebLogic Portal Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)
  • Common Algorithm Interview Questions (With Example Answers)