How To Transcribe An Interview

Tips For Recording Interviews

To transcribe an interview involves looking at relevant software, choosing a preferred transcript format and using reliable equipment to save and transcribe your recordings. In this short guide, we assume you would like to transcribe your recordings yourself but also provide some useful outsourcing options at the end if you choose to outsource your transcription.

Guide To Transcribe An Interview

In this short guide on how to transcribe an interview, we will look at the actual transcription of the interview itself. We will assume that you have conducted your interview (you might like to visit our Recording Guidelines For Quality Sound tips page) and that you have the recorded audio or video ready for transcription.

STEP 1: Software

The first step in how to transcribe an interview is to ensure that you have decent transcription software. While there are many excellent free media players available, when you actually start tackling the nitty-gritty of transcription, you will find that they are inadequate.

You need a program that allows you to pause, rewind, play and fast-forward smoothly and easily, preferably with the use of a foot pedal, but at the very least using hotkeys that are convenient for use and will not interfere with your typing. You will be surprised at how much easier decent software will make the transcription process. And if you’re of the age when you’ve actually used a tape-based recorder to transcribe interviews, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how far things have come.

We recommend the following programs, both of which offer a trial version, so you can see if they suit your needs: The FTW Transcriber and Express Scribe. Both are excellent programs and among the most popular in use for transcription.

STEP 2: Format

The next step in how to transcribe an interview is to ascertain what you actually want in the text. Here are some common questions that can be answered.

Is it important that the speech of both speakers be captured? Transcribing only one side of an interview is easier than transcribing both participants (which is why we offer either a dictation transcription service or focus group transcription services as different options).

Is it necessary to transcribe every cough, hiccup, pause and ‘um’? This is harder than a simple word-for-word transcription, and most transcribers will expect a higher rate for such work if you decide to outsource.

Is the timing of words and certain phrases important? If the transcript is to be used for analysis or later to be turned into subtitles, then having a time stamp function will come in handy.

If you’re outsourcing transcription you should again expect to pay a premium for time stamps, depending on their frequency. When considering how to transcribe audio, the purpose for which the transcript should be your primary concern.

STEP 3: Equipment

The final step in considering how to transcribe an interview is obtaining appropriate equipment.

You are not going to be able to do this with your thumbs on a smartphone. You are going to need a keyboard (the bigger the better, because cramp is a real problem here), you are going to need a decent sound card and you are probably going to need good headphones (particularly if you share a workspace/home with a normal person, who might want to know why a single phrase is being repeated at maximum volume at 2 am).

It’s surprising how unclear a well-recorded conversation can become the moment one attempts to transcribe it. Prepare yourself for long minutes of trying to decode a single whispered phrase or one critical answer that’s been obscured by an ill-timed adjusting of the microphone. A very skilled transcriber can generally type 10-15 minutes of audio in one hour. You, particularly if this is your first transcription, are probably going to be at least three times slower than that. If you’re faster than ten minutes per hour of transcription, perhaps you’d like to consider a career in transcription? It really cannot be stressed enough that transcription is time-consuming and difficult for the average person.


On the other hand, you might want to skip the above and get a reputable transcription service to do it for you? There are plenty of third-party providers in the industry. Almost all guarantee accuracy of even up to 200% (how does one calculate that one?).

Besides Way With Words Transcription, there are quite a few alternatives for transcription today. For example, Nibity Speech To Text is a new speech to text entrant with a growing reputation in the USA, Canada and beyond. If you choose to outsource your interviews for transcribing, then take a look at our tips below on what to ask in addition to the usual questions about rates and formats.


If you choose to look for a transcription service provider, ask about their actual availability and data management procedures, specifically:

  • Are your recordings processed by third parties (data privacy)?
  • Where is your going to be hosted (data security)?
  • Is there an immediate direct human contact/touchpoint for job changes/updates (chatbots).
  • Do your recordings get processed by any machine learning systems (permissions)?

Consider confidentiality by checking if your data will be used to benefit the provider in other ways. For example, check if your provider will benefit transcribing your interviews by using the process to also benefit their machine learning. Whether you choose to select a transcription service provider or decide to transcribe your interviews yourself, we recommend you read our article on how to convert audio to video. This article offers specific options for do-it-yourself or outsourced transcription.




  • Expert subject English interview transcribers + select add-on options!
  • Fast accurate interview transcriptions + choice of turnarounds by budget.
  • Audio, video or custom transcripts + various interview transcript formats.
  • Instant quote, file upload + quick online account.
  • Confidentiality assured, as well as secure online protocols.

Try us by simply opening an online account (it takes less than 60 seconds) and upload your recording. If you are from a University or from a registered institution you can use a PO number for reference.

We offer standard transcript formats, as shown below, or can create a custom format on request.


Way With Words has a large team of dedicated and trained transcribers. The company transcribes for some of the biggest names in finance, academia, business, law, and medicine – see some of our clients. They will be standing by to capture every word, in the transcription format you prefer, while you busy yourself with more pleasant activities.


Way With Words provides daily transcriptions for users who require transcripts from audio or video. The company serves a large number of universities, media companies, financial institutions, legal services as well as new technology start-ups and more traditional users in the medical and research services.