When Do I Use Written Surveys vs. Interviews to Collect My 360 Feedback?

There is no blanket rule about using written surveys vs. interviews. There are however some times when one may be more appropriate than another for you. Surveys are best for getting a quite a few people to rate you on a large number of items and give you short comments about what you do and how you could do it better. They are best at helping you to identify what you need to work on as opposed to how you could best improve on those items. Interviews, on the other hand, tend to be more helpful in going into much greater depth with fewer people to gather detailed, qualitative examples about how you could improve in a few key areas. For example, if you want to know which of a dozen competencies people think you do best and which need the most work, and you want to get rated in those areas by four to ten people in each of three or four groups of people (direct reports, superiors, peers, vendors, customers, friends/family members, etc.), surveys will allow you to quickly identify those priorities. Interviews will allow your coach to talk at length with a few superiors, direct reports, and peers to probe into exactly what you need to do to improve in one or more specific areas (e.g. listening, strategic planning, delegation, risk taking, etc.). Sometimes, both surveys and interviews are used to gather quantitative data from a larger group and more in-depth qualitative information from a smaller, targeted group.