In the comments to my John Marron interview post, Burt Levine says “I wish you wrote these so that people could read them.” I can certainly understand that sentiment, and Burt is not the first person to express it, so let me briefly explain why I’m doing these recorded interviews instead of written ones.
The only way I could do written interviews is by email. I’m not confident in my note-taking abilities for anything as in-depth as this, and recording then transcribing is way, way, way, too time-consuming for me. I’ve done interviews by email before and will do some again; they do serve a good purpose, especially when the candidate and I are not in the same city. The main reason why I prefer doing these recorded interviews instead is simply that it’s much easier to get candidates to do them, because I can schedule an appointment with them that gets put on their calendar. That also allows me to publish them on a predictable schedule, which simplifies my life. By contrast, when you send an email, you never know when (or even if) you’ll get a response. I’ve had candidates respond within 24 hours, and candidates take weeks to send answers. I can’t blame them – who has time for that? – so I try to accomodate them instead, and this accomplishes that objective.
There are other factors as well – it’s easier to ask followup questions in person, you never know if it’s the candidate or a staffer responding to the email, there’s no question about misquoting, etc etc etc. If I had the resources, I’d include transcriptions of these interviews – I know how useful that would be. But I don’t, and unless you’re volunteering to help with that, I’m unlikely ever to have them. All things considered, I think this is the best solution. I hope you’ll agree.