A novel method was recently proposed and experimentally realized for characterizing a quantum state by directly measuring its complex probability amplitudes in a particular basis using so-called weak values. Recently Vallone and Dequal showed theoretically that weak measurements are not a necessary condition to determine the weak value [Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 040502 (2016)]. Here we report a measurement scheme used in a matter-wave interferometric experiment in which the neutron path system’s quantum state was characterized via direct measurements using both strong and weak interactions. Experimental evidence is given that strong interactions outperform weak ones. Our results are not limited to neutron interferometry, but can be used in a wide range of quantum systems.