How to Conduct Better Interviews

Knowing how to record a better interview or panel discussion with maximum clarity and sound quality can make the transcription process more efficient, accurate and cost-effective in the long run. A good interview recording for transcription has little to no background noise, clear voices and only one person speaking at a time.  Here we will provide you with a few tips to ensure you create the best recording for your transcribers.

Choose your location wisely

When choosing a location to conduct your interview you need to consider any background noise that might be picked up by the microphones.  Ideally an enclosed, soundproof room will provide you with the best audio recording, but if that is not an option, a quiet room is the next best thing.  Switch off any fans, heating, shut windows to reduce traffic noise, remove ticking clocks and avoid using creaky furniture.  If you are in a public setting, such as a café (cafés are one of the worst places to record an interview as the background noises will invariably ensure you have a poor recording), make sure you avoid sitting near windows, music speakers, coffee grinders and the counter to reduce any noises interfering with the voice audio.

Inform your participants

When you arrange an interview with your participants, confirm with them you are going to record the conversation for transcription purposes.  Brief those involved on ensuring they speak one person at a time, with clarity and preferably at a slower pace than they normally would.  Explain that all movement will be picked up in the audio, from the shuffling of their papers to coughing. Request they limit friendly banter between questions and switch off mobile phones or mute any electronic devices that might be present in the room.

Check your audio is clear

Before you begin your interview recording, check all your recording equipment in advance to make sure everything is in working order.  You should always do a sound check to ensure all mics are working and positioned correctly so that all speakers will be heard clearly. There is nothing worse than finishing the interview only to find some voices were too faint or the background noises was louder than you thought. Listen back to the recording to test the clarity and identify any outside noises that is making it difficult to understand the audio.

Address the microphone placement

Microphones should remain in place for the entire recording to avoid any sound changes or added noise, so place the mics before you begin the interview.  Position the microphone close to and directly at each speaker or if you are using only one, they should be placed equal distance from the speakers to allow for each voice to be picked up evenly.  An external microphone rather than a built-in device is preferable as they generally provide better quality and you can use multiple mics depending on your interview situation.

Provide information of your interview

Providing information of your interview for your transcription provider will aid in a more efficient service.  Have your interviewees identify themselves on the recording before you commence and address each person by their name throughout the interview.  This will help your transcriber identify who is speaking during the recording.  Sending your transcription service a copy of the questions or agenda you have used for the interview as well as a list of the participant’s names can ensure a better end result.

A digital recorder will improve your audio – Note: Hardly anyone uses anything other than a digital recorder to record now.

If you are going to be conducting several recorded interviews it is worth considering investing in a digital voice recording device.  Digital recorders generally achieve superior audio quality and have added features that may be beneficial.  There are various products available on the market so the key things to look out for are the memory capacity, file formats, sound quality settings.

Short audio, faster transcription

Recording several short audio files rather than one long recording can reduce the overall time required for your transcription service.  You can split digital audio into parts so that the files can be simultaneously transcribed (using more than one typist) thereby reducing turnaround times.  It is also easier and quicker to upload smaller audio files than large ones.

Splitting files is recommended only if you are on tight deadlines.  For consistency, it is preferred to have one transcriber transcribe the entire interview. Transcribers are human and can only go so fast, so allow time for a quality transcript.

Taking the time to set up your interview, check your recording equipment and briefing your participants in advance will provide you with a much better result and save you time and money in the long run. Remember poor audio recordings with over talking, unclear voices interrupted by background noise will affect your transcription and generally be more expensive to transcribe.

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