4 Top Hacks on How to Transcribe and Interview

Follow these useful tips to ensure your next transcription project goes smoothly

Transcribing an interview is tough, which makes the specifics of how to transcribe and interview a little more challenging. For example, it’s easy to lose focus and get distracted by the words being spoken. However, if you want to get a transcription done right, it’s important that you stay on track. Fortunately, we’ve prepared four useful tips below to make sure your next transcription project goes smoothly.

1. Transcription Goal

If you’re transcribing, it’s important to keep an eye on your goal. A transcription goal is a statement of what you want to get out of the transcription. Here are some simple steps to follow:

  • Transcribe the interview.
  • Capture the details.
  • Transcribe accurately.
  • Transcribe in a timely manner and to a high standard, so you can use the text for multiple purposes. For example, creating transcripts that are searchable by keyword or phrase (ideal for podcasts), editing podcasts, creating video scripts from audio files, sharing knowledge with others who speak your language, but aren’t familiar with transcription software or don’t have access to pricy equipment.
Transcribe and Interview

You will also be required to do some pre-work before you start the actual transcription process. This can be informed by the below: 

  • Get a sense of the interviewee’s story.
  • Identify any themes that emerge from their stories and use them in your paper.

Your goal will depend on what type of project you are working on, but knowing what it is will help inform how much time and effort goes into the transcription process. For example, if all you want is a general idea about what people said during interviews, then you don’t have to spend hours reviewing every word carefully before moving onto another section; instead, you can fast-forward through parts where there isn’t much information being shared or rewind back when someone says something interesting enough for more details to be added later.

2. Focus On The Interview

Focusing on an interview sounds rather basic, however, the most important thing to remember when transcribing an interview, is that you’re listening for content, not words. A little different to captioning, where exact details matter. This means that it’s okay if your transcription isn’t perfect, you can always go back and fix any mistakes later.

Ask open-ended questions. When asking follow-up questions, try asking things like “Can you give me an example?” or “What kind of impact did this have?” These types of questions will help you get more detailed information from your subject. 

Transcribe and Interview

Ask for clarification when necessary. If something doesn’t make sense in your transcriptions, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification from whoever was being interviewed. Remember: Communication is key and even the most mediocre skills can be polished to a degree of greatness, given enough practice.

For interviewing non-native English speakers, try to get them to use certain words and phrases over and over again so that it’s easier to transcribe later. For example, if someone says “I do not know” several times in an interview, you can ask them what they mean by this so that when it comes time for transcription purposes, everything will be clear.

3. Share and Collaborate

There are a few ways you can share and collaborate with others on your transcript.

    • Use a transcription service readily available online. These services allow you to upload an audio file, which is then transcribed for you in real time. You can also set up automatic reminders so that the service will email you when it’s done with each chapter of your book or script. Very useful if you’re working on multiple projects at once!
    • Work together with other people who have access to your interviewee’s manager or boss. This is especially helpful if they don’t know how much time they have left in their current role and require advice on what skills they should develop next.
    Transcribe and Interview

    While online transcription services vary in quality and turnaround time, there are a few trusted human transcription services. These are transcription and captioning services that are uniquely human-powered in an increasingly AI-driven world. Not only does it give you the opportunity to partner alongside another human being to achieve a common objective, but long-term bonds are formed that can be relied on for future projects.

    4. Documentation

    Documentation is a way to keep track of your work. It can be in the form of notes, audio recordings or video recordings. It can also be screenshots and transcripts that you create while transcribing your interviewee’s speech.

    One of the most important things to remember when it comes to transcription is that there are different levels of quality. You don’t have to transcribe every word exactly as it was said, unless it was explicitly requested.

    Transcribe and Interview

    For example, if you transcribe and interview with a native speaker, it is unlikely that every single word will have to be included in the transcript. However, if you are transcribing a foreign language interview, then there may be more importance placed on accuracy with your transcription process. Regardless, a documented process will be invaluable when pursuing similar jobs in future. This will help you save time, energy and even help you establish a reputation as a reliable professional.

    Now you have the skills to transcribe and interview

    We trust that these tips help to prepare you for the next time you are tasked to transcribe and interview. Remember to start with a clear goal in mind, apply focus to your interview, collaborate to automate your efficiency and document your process to save you time on later projects. While it may sound pretty straightforward, by now you may have realised that it takes a lot more skills than one would at first anticipate. If it all feels a little overwhelming, remember to apply the four hacks above and you’ll do fine.