Voice: Online Interviewing and Q&A Tips

Interviewing someone online is different from doing it on the phone or face-to-face. There are advantages and disadvantages – and often one is not a good substitute for the other. One of the obvious advatages of online interviewing is that not everyone has to be available at the same time – it’s asychnronous – you do it when you want to. One of the oft-quoted disadvantages is that there is a loss of the interviewees personality and voice.

The truth is that everyone has a voice when they are writing, it’s not the same as their spoken voice and can probably vary more than their spoken voice typically does. The danger with online interviewing is that the person being interviewed can often come off too formal. But this is all too often because the person doing the interviewing is writing too formally.

Tip: The interviewee will typically mirror the style and tone of the interviewer whether in person or online. If you want informal answers ask informal questions and convey informality in your writing style. Don’t write as if you were editing a Wikipedia article, write as if you were doing a blog post.


Formal Style:

Do you think we are in a global financial crisis based on the bankruptcy of Lehman, the firesale of Merrill and the rescus of AIG?

Informal Style:

Are we going to hell in a financial handbasket? I mean… Lehman, Merrill, AIG? What’s next?

I imagine these would be answered quite differently by the same. Obviously your language has to be consistent with and respectful of the person you are interviewing, but there is still a tremendous amount of room for leeway here – just as there would be if you were on the phone.

If you have tips and or questions about online interviewing for the YouSaidIt community you can go to the Interview Tips community Q&A at YouSaidIt.


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