From 1st April till 30th June, the National Census will be held. ‘I recommend fulfilling this duty with a census representative, who can complete an interview with an inhabitant within a few minutes. This is much faster than completing the questionnaire online by yourself,’ says Tomasz Bieńkowski, who will act as an interviewer in the upcoming census.
During this year's National Population and Housing Census, 268 census interviewers will work in Wroclaw. The census will be held in three alternative variants.
The first one is “self-enumeration”, i.e., the respondent fills in the questionnaire by himself/herself at home or at a specially designated desk in the Communal Census Bureau located in the City Office at Plac Nowy Targ.
In the second variant, an interviewer contacts the respondent by phone.
The last option is the direct enumeration by an interviewer working in the field. As far as the last option is concerned, everything will depend on the pandemic situation in Poland, and decisions will be made during the census.
One of the interviewers authorised to work during the National Population and Housing Census in Wroclaw is Tomasz Bieńkowski.
How can we verify this before being interviewed by phone?
‘Any person who wants to complete the procedure by phone or directly may report this to the census helpline to make sure that an interviewer gets in touch with them. Upon calling the respondent, the interviewer should immediately introduce himself, say who he is and why he is calling. The respondent has to report his name and PESEL number. This requirement is very important – it ensures that one person does not get interviewed several times.’
Are we allowed to fix the date by ourselves when deciding to get in touch with an interviewer?
‘The respondent may fix the convenient date of a telephone interview or meeting, but in consultation with the interviewer. In the case of a telephone survey, the interviewer will plan interviews so as to devote enough time to everyone or – in the case of direct surveys – to ensure an optimum travel route for visits to inhabitants.’
And what if the interview does not take place at the agreed time for reasons attributable to the respondent or interviewer?
‘On the part of the respondent, this might be an illness or some unpredictable situation, but it is best to agree upon a subsequent date so as not to block the interview opportunity to others. As far as the interviewer is concerned, I may experience the failure of a census-taking device or the lack of Internet access – if this happens, the survey will not be activated. In this case, we will fix another date, too. Here I will refer to my experience from last year’s agricultural census – sometimes, when I arrived at an inhabitant’s apartment, he was not home because we had not arranged a meeting before, as the respondent’s phone number was missing from the census application. In such a case, I left a note with a request for phone contact in the letterbox and the survey was often carried out in this “teleform”.’
So how long does it take to carry out a survey?
‘Filling in the questionnaire should normally last around 15 minutes. This time may be extended in the case of a large household, because each person is asked about certain issues separately. The questionnaire contains specific questions. ‘I personally recommend fulfilling this duty with a census representative, who can complete an interview with an inhabitant within a few minutes. This is much faster than completing the questionnaire online by yourself. The interviewer has completed relevant training, knows questions well and can mark the right option in non-typical situations.’
Now let’s talk about a direct interview with an inhabitant when, as you have mentioned, such option becomes possible. Does a meeting with an interviewer have to be arranged in the respondent’s apartment?
‘Personal meetings with inhabitants can be held at any place, preferably the one that both the respondent and the inhabitant find the most convenient. Of course, an inhabitant has the right to check my identity in two ways – either online at in the tab “Sprawdź rachmistrza” [Check the interviewer], or by calling the census helpline 22 279 99 99.’
In Wroclaw, there is also a group of foreigners obliged to take part in the census. How will they cope in contact with the interviewer, for example, when there is a problem with finding a common language?
‘According to information made available to us at the training course, the self-enumeration application will be available in different language versions. In the case of foreigners who do not speak Polish, we can obviously complete the census with such a person if we manage to understand each other. If we do not know the respondent's language, we must notify this fact to the provincial dispatcher who assigns tasks. I suppose they will search for an interviewer who speaks such language. The most important thing is to report such a need so that everyone would have a chance to provide answers to the survey.’
Do we have to prepare any documents for the needs of the survey?
‘The interviewer is not allowed to request any documents from the respondent. It is important to remember this. The census is carried out on the basis of the actual place of residence, not the registered address of residence. The data that are worth checking beforehand refer to the apartment – its area, the number of rooms, or whether we have the legal title (and if yes, which title) to it. Other questions can be answered without preparation.’
What sanctions may be imposed on a person who refuses to participate in the survey or fails to perform self-enumeration?
‘According to the law, participation in the census is compulsory and the respondent must not refuse to provide information when contacted by an interviewer.’
Now let me ask you about corrections. When I find out that I gave some wrong information one hour or one day after the interview, will I have a chance to ask for correction?
‘The simple correction of the questionnaire is not possible – after the completed census, the questionnaire is transferred to the server of the Main Statistical Office and disappears from the interviewer's device, so it is not accessible from the interviewer level. Please remember that this is an interactive survey and, depending on the previous answer, the form is adapted to a specific person. Some people will answer fewer questions, and others will answer more.’