I recently read a piece on phone interviews vs. email interviews. For me, this is a no-brainer: Phone interviews always trump email interviews.
Of course, the best way to interview someone is in person.
But that isn’t always feasible or practical.
So when you can’t interview someone in person, a phone interview is definitely second best.
Email is an interviewing too of last resort to me.
There’s no spontenaity — every answer is thought out, probably typed and retyped. Answers from interview subjects often come out stiff and unnatural, not conversational.
And follow-up questions are just impossible over email. If you’ve got a follow-up question, you have to wait for the subject to get the question, respond and so on.
Perhaps most importantly, it’s difficult to challenge a subject via an email interview. There’s no way to interject in the middle of a scripted answer to say, “Oh really? That’s not what the numbers say.” And that’s one of the most important things we do.