Foreword: This blog post was supposed to be on the process of writing, but somehow I got carried away with the idea of interviews and therefore wrote this post instead accidentally. After interviewing Miller Templeton, a renowned Tech alumni who has put work into creating study abroad and improving the Outdoor Recreation Georgia Tech club, I really felt as though interviewing people in a visual format was the best way to do it.
Why, you may ask, do I find the visual interview to be a lot more impacting and ergo better? The reason is that we are human beings. Though first I think it is better to take a look at the different formats an interview can be in.
For sharing an interview, there are three distinct ways of sharing the content of an interview. It can be shared textually, audibly, or visually.
If we analyze each format in its own we find that textually gives us the content of the interview in a quick, easy format. What did the interviewer have to say about how Georgia Tech has changed in the past seventy years? Use the search function or quickly scroll until a word that relates to the past seventy years shows up. No scrubbing as one would do for audio. Although a text interview has perhaps the most accessible content, a text interview also lacks the most content.
In a textual interview, we don’t get to see the interviewer or the interviewee. We may know what they look like, but we don’t see their facial expressions, whether they grinned on this question or had trouble answering this question. There are a lot of textual clues which could often give us clues to what they’re facial expressions may be, but we if we do not know the person, we don’t know how they’d be acting. We also do not know what the interviewee sounds like. Did their voice go up when they answered this question? Did they stutter when they replied to this question which the editor who transcribed the interview cut out?
One can analyze an audio interview in just the same way. While we can hear the interviewer and the interviewee, we still cannot visually see the persons. We do get to hear the personality of both the interviewer and the interviewee. Their personality, I think, is an important part to understanding the answers given. By hearing a person, most of the time I can hear whether they are joking, serious, or poking fun at something.
If take a look at a visual interview we get a complete set of content. The interviewer and the interviewee can both hopefully be heard and be seen. Depending on the interview, we may get to view the interviewer and interviewee’s body language. Body language is something we all see on a daily basis (hopefully) when talking to people in person. In a visual interview, our senses are content with what we see. Mind you we cannot smell what was in the air during the interview and we cannot get the general gist of how things felt (the 6th sense), but those senses are not an essential part to knowing and learning about a person in an interview.
One may point out that in an audio and visual interview that the content is not searchable as in a textual interview. I could argue that one may put in chapter markers in the audio or video file to mark each question and answer, but I rarely have seen an interview that does such things. Perhaps one day voice recognition software will advance to where it can understand any spoken words without being in a controlled environment thus allowing the end-user to be able to textually search the interview while still being able to see and hear both parties within the interview. Something like smart visual voice scrubbing.
In the end, one can easily move from the advanced, more complex interviews down to the simple format of an interview, i.e. from visual to audible to textual, but not the other way, i.e. textual to audible to visual. More often than not to include more content in an interview requires a higher skill set. For example, creating a quality visual interview may need two or more cameras, microphones, and lighting whilst a textual interview may be done with a simple question and answer sheet that may be done over the computer or on paper.
In an interview, I find, it is important to not only get answers from the interviewee, but to capture their personality and what makes them unique.