3 Arguments for Favoring Phone Interviews Over Face-To-Face

Phone interviews are faster, better, and cheaper than face-to-face for gathering fresh information about whether a new B2B, specialty product idea will succeed.


From interviews with 40 prospective customers, you gain statistically significant insights 1   into who will buy the new product and why. These phone interviews, rich in fresh information, can be completed in a fraction of the time involved in face-to-face.


Can contact all potential respondents in the sample

A seasoned phone interviewer can always contact and elicit fresh information from a knowledgeable individual in the sample. Face-to-face interviewing must fit an interview into respondents’ tight meeting and travel schedules. The interviewer often arrives at the meeting and finds the respondent must cancel. The interviewer then usually meets with a less knowledgeable individual.

Respondents are more open about key issues in the interview

Two behavioral surpises are at work here. The first, Strangers On A Plane (SOAP) 2 deals with the willingness of passengers on a plane ride to share sensitive information with a stranger who they will never meet again. The second deals with the finding that it’s easier to detect and elicit hidden information by listening rather than by looking 3, 4. This power of listening contradicts the commonly held belief that in face-to-face interviews that you can read a person like a book.


Phone interviews can be conducted with knowledgeable individuals anywhere in the world with zero travel expense.

1.  (2013) Wheelan, C., Chap. 8, “The Central limit Theorem: The LeBron James of Statistics” Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data, W. W. Norton & Company, NY, NY

2. (2011) John, L., Acquisti, A., and Loewenstein, G., “Strangers on a Plane: Context-Dependent Willingness to Divulge Sensitive Information” Journal of Consumer Research 37 pp.858-873

3. (1995) Wiseman, R., Nature 3373-391

4. (2007) Wiseman, R., Quirkology: How We Discover The Big Truths In Small Things pp.45-88 Perseus Book Group, NY, NY