Online survey for written business interviews

Q Question: We currently use a Google doc to conduct written interviews with people in business (see example questions below).

We are happy with this but would like to add a little more functionality and we are not sure if it is possible with Google Docs. We want advice on using another system. We like Google docs because it is free and it is also easy to assign each new interview by copying the doc. We would like to change the interview question section to allow the person to choose their own questions to answer, a “choose your own adventure” style interview.

So maybe there is a way to have them pick from a list of questions. Not sure how this can be done on Google Docs but open to creative ideas on this.  Ultimately, we want a nice user experience for the person, so balancing cost versus user experience is important.

A few other important things to note about why we like Google Docs for this:

  • The person can take a few days to fill out the interview questions and none of their information is lost.
  • It is easy for people to upload photos
  • It is easy for us to check in on the doc to see how far they have completed.

 

Questions we ask follow the below format.

Thank you for completing an interview with us. Many of our readers are people just starting their own business, so really think back and reflect on those days 🙂 Here is an example we love. It has a balanced amount of content mixed with great quality photos. Below are some helpful tips that we would like to make you aware of.

HELPFUL TIPS:
  • Paste in photos, use links, videos. It will all transfer to the final post. The more photos the better! This document will be turned into your story. 
  • You can include Facebook posts, tweets, Instagram posts, YouTube videos, etc., just paste the raw link on it’s own line like this -> [insert link]
  • The more detailed and specific you can get, the better this interview will be received 🙂 — more exposure to your business!
  • Tell your story and make it personal! Be honest and transparent. Connect with the readers – they are also entrepreneurs – it really makes a huge difference!
  • The bullet points above the questions in grey italics are suggestions to inspire great answers. If you don’t find them helpful feel free to answer how you see fit.
  • Break up big paragraphs (it will read better).
  • If any of these questions don’t pertain to you, feel free to skip them.

Questions

Please introduce yourself and share with us – what business did you start?

1-2 paragraphs, consider including:

  • Your name, where you are from and the name of your company
  • Concise description of what your business does
  • What is your value proposition?
  • Final sentence about revenue, growth or some other compelling measure of your success
  • Finalize this section with an attractive image

What motivated or inspired you to start your business?

2-4 paragraphs, consider including:

  • Desired more money or freedom? Find yourself unemployed? Recent graduate? Previous failed business or successful exit?
  • Share which series of events led you to start this business
  • What problem did you see and how did you solve it?
  • Include relevant photo

What achievement has made you most proud since starting your business?

2-3 paragraphs, consider including:

  • What fears did you overcome?
  • What did you achieve that you didn’t think was possible?
  • Did you pay off your parents mortgage?
  • If you compare starting your business from what you were previously doing what do you like about it?

What excuses kept you from starting your business?

2-3 paragraphs, consider including:

  • Fear of failing? Inexperience? Too costly? Not enough time?

What was the most challenging part of starting your business? 

2-3 paragraphs, consider including:

  • What you had to overcome (personal or business related)?
  • How did you overcome those challenges?
  • How did you make it through?

How did you begin attracting clients?

1-2 paragraphs, consider including:

  • What marketing efforts did you employ that were successful?
  • What didn’t work?

How much did you invest before you began generating revenue?

1-2 paragraphs, consider including:

  • What was the start up cost to get going?
  • Were there any major unexpected costs?
  • Did you self fund, borrow money, VC, etc.?

What was a typical week like while starting?

1-3 paragraphs, consider including:

  • What was the start up phase like? 
  • How much time did it demand?
  • Consider discussing what sacrifices you had to make

While starting, what were some of the biggest mistakes you made?

1-3 paragraphs, consider including:

  • What insights can you share from your experience that could help others?
  • Was there something funny that happened?

If you started your business all over, what’s one decision you’d do differently and why?

1-3 paragraphs, consider including:

  • Based on how things played out, what would you do differently?

What tools, products or services help you most effectively run your business?

1-3 paragraphs, consider including:

  • The goal here is to share effective products with people they might not already be familiar with, such as software, etc.
  • Is there anything your business couldn’t live without?
  • Can you think of anything outside of the obvious?
  • Any productivity tools?

Which book, podcast, video or other resource was most influential to you in starting your business and why?

1-3 paragraphs, consider including:

  • Can you think of any resources you found valuable and influential?
  • Can you add anything that inspired you?

What was the biggest lie you believed about starting your business before getting to where you are now?

1-3 paragraphs, consider including:

  • Something you found out that wasn’t true
  • Outdated information
  • Some rules you had to break
  • Business myths

What piece of valuable information would you leave for others looking to start a business that we haven’t already covered?

1-3 paragraphs, consider including:

  • Use this area as an opportunity to share anything that wasn’t previously covered

Where can we learn about your business?

1 closing paragraph, consider including:

  • Include a link to your website, a specific landing page or social media link

Thank you once again for completing your interview. As a reminder, interviews that include numerous photos will have the best appearance.

We’ll review, possibly make some small edits, then publish! We’ll let you know when it’s published 🙂

A Answer: This is quite a common problem that people have when collecting large amounts of information. For collaboration, it can be easier to use something like Google Docs but for processing and conversational, choose-your-own-adventure form questions, Google Docs has limitations. Let’s look at some of your options below.

Google Forms

Many people choose Google Forms because they’re already Google users and want a quick, simple survey for their clients. Respondents don’t need to be logged in to Google to answer your survey and the survey tool is free to use. The downsides are that designs are very limited, longer forms can’t be saved and you can’t have the choose-your-own-adventure style form that you need.

Jotform

Jotform does have the choose-your-own-adventure features that you need through their one question at a time survey builder and users don’t need to be logged in to answer the survey questions. Jotform would allow you to have people upload photos to the form and they do have an advanced save-for-later functionality. They offer a free plan but their paid plans are quite reasonable.

Typeform

Typeform is perfect for your choose-your-own-adventure survey needs as you can have people moved to different parts of the form based on their previous answers. They offer a free plan but you’ll need the paid option and the pricing is higher than Jotform.

ContentSnare

ContentSnare is purpose-built for longer forms that require prompts to complete. This relieves your team of the need to follow-up form/survey requests and streamlines your interview request process.

Our Choice?

Based on your requirements, we’d recommend first looking at Jotform for the ability to save the form and come back later. The second option would be ContentSnare for the ability to have the form partially completed and then have automated emails sent to get people to complete the form.

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