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Semi-audio interviewing

Your interviewee speaks via a mobile phone and their signal is too bad for a proper, two-way (remote) interview. What can you do? Reschedule the conversation? Opt for an ‘e-mail interview’ instead? A new, hybrid method emerged in an interview I carried out a few days ago, after both videoconferencing via a popular online platform and audio conferencing via the interviewee’s favourite smartphone messenger had failed. I’d call it the ‘written question, spoken answer method’, or, say, semi-audio interviewing. It is easy and astonishingly effective – as a method of last resort.

Basically, after two-way speaking had failed in that interview, I simply typed my first interview question and asked the interlocutor to respond directly with brief voice messages. Many (or all?) smartphone messengers (Signal, WhatsApp etc.) come with an option to send voice messages. That is less burdensome than typing on the phone screen. Also, the interlocutor’s voice adds nuances that written text can’t capture. The interviewee has your questions in writing, allowing them to focus. You can adjust or develop subsequent questions as the interview progresses. As an added bonus, you can listen to your interlocutor’s messages again after the interview, just like with a classical audio-recorded conversation, but visually structured by your written questions (i.e. easily searchable).

Of course, it is not a real-life real-time conversation. It doesn’t beat a regular two-way video conference, either. The interview progresses slowly, as it takes time for the voice messages to upload (remember, the signal is poor). On the other hand, that allows the interview partners to gather their thoughts – well, unless they are distracted by other incoming messages. But that is always a risk in remote interviewing.

Evaluator’s Dilemma

The expectations evaluators are facing have changed. The resources we get for evaluation have, too – but they still fall short of what it takes to meet new expectations. This week Friday, Ines Freier, Berward Causemann, and I will discuss this dilemma at the annual conference of the German Evaluation Society (DeGEval). The event is in German (see my announcement on my homepage). But I have summarised the dilemma in English as well – see the picture above. Does this ring a bell with my fellow evaluators?

New place, familiar blog

A big hello, and a big thank you for dropping by, to all visitors to my new blog space! Some of you may have followed my developblog.org, which I started in 2008. That was around the time when I decided to go freelance and I felt I needed my own website. It was so hard to decide what the website should look like that in the end I simply started a blog. Now, in my 15th year of independent consulting, I finally have my home website with a new space for my blog. I will continue, at a gentle pace, sharing news and insights from the world of evaluation and facilitation. This space here will replace my old blog. No new items will be added to developblog.org. Before shutting it down completely, I will move and update some favourite articles to this new spaceAdvance thanks for visiting again!