Imagine yourself as a researcher hired by a company that sponsored a research. You show up 10 minutes early at the venue and soon, your interviewee arrives. The interview is about to begin but then you realize that an equipment you would use is missing – it could be a pen, source materials, audio recorder, or worse, you forgot everything! In order to avoid such mishaps, it’s always best to plan ahead and prepare everything.
Here are some useful ways or tools that an interviewer must prepare before, during, and after conducting interviews.
Scheduling and Coordinating the Interview
Tools to use: Google Calendar, mobile reminders, planner, organizers
First and foremost, the interviewer and the interviewee should agree to set an appointment when and where the interview would take place. The arrangement should be organized days before the actual meeting so both parties are comfortable and can allot the time to accommodate the event. Coordination is very vital in this stage for the interview. Proper communication between both parties should be observed.
If the interviewer plans to meet several parties to interview and the activity will be a whole day affair, then fatigue or exhaustion may come into play. Therefore, strategic planning for this type of scenario is advisable so one could assess beforehand how many subjects they can oblige during a day and the others could be scheduled some other time. If at any event one party decides to cancel, they should inform the other party immediately, so re-scheduling (or cancellations) can be done right away. Arranging the appointment through useful tools such as Google Calendar, setting a reminder on your mobile, or by simply just jotting it down on a traditional planner are effective ways to make sure the interview would never be missed.
Conducting the Interview
Tools to use: audio or video recorders, microphone, pen and paper, source/research materials
Once the appointment has been arranged and both parties have finally met, it’s now time to conduct the interview. What better way to communicate nicely with one another during the session is by having it done in a setting where noise is very limited – not exactly very quiet, but at least a place where both the interviewer and the interviewee/s would be able to hear and understand each other very well. The exchange of thoughts and ideas would become smooth and effective if distractions were limited.
Preparing the questions beforehand would also be ideal. For job interviews, it’s best advised if you already know what you’re looking for in a candidate, so asking the right questions that are pivotal to the role they are applying for would be utilized. Open-ended questions are also important so the applicant’s answers could be expanded. Lastly, setting a calm and stress-free environment could also be an effective way in order to get the best answers from respondents. Offering a glass of water, explaining what types of questions are about to be expected, and just being friendly and casual all throughout would lessen the anxiety felt by the respondents and rapport would be established.
Recording the Interview
Tools to use: audio or video recorders, microphone, pen and paper, source/research materials, using FTP or cloud storage sites
Some interviewers opt to have their interviews recorded rather than take copious notes. Although recording an interview is not mandatory, the real essence of why some do is that they can capture data from the interview as accurate as possible. This also allows interviewers, researchers, or moderators engage and focus better on the respondents and their answers and not get distracted while writing notes. Market research interviewers typically like their sessions recorded so they can go back and re-listen to the things mentioned by their subjects while they analyze and document them for reporting. In this case, it is very effective for an interviewer to have an access to a room with very minimal to almost zero background noise so everything can be taped clearly for more effective use.
Smartphones nowadays offer a variety of tools and apps that make our lives easier, and voice recording is one of the many built-in features that is essential when recording interviews. While using a smartphone to record is the most accessible option, a few still prefer to use external microphones attached to different devices when recording very long sessions or interviews. Some researchers also conduct their sessions inside a conference room with built-in voice recorders or an analog conference phone to record meetings; while some who conduct their interviews online, record their conversations or discussions through Adobe Connect or Skype.
Tools to use: source/research materials, transcription software/application
Transcription is useful to people for all kinds of purposes whether personal or professional. It can be used for education, legal, business, medical, market research, and many other purposes. Transcribing dictations or recordings are typically done by general transcriptionists, although in some specialized cases, a license is required for an individual to transcribe recordings especially if the document is to be used for legal or medical purposes.
Some researchers may prefer to do the transcription by themselves while others approach different transcription companies to do the work for them. Interview transcriptions can either be manual or automated. Machine transcription provides faster turnaround but the accuracy may be subpar which in turn affects the quality and unreliability of data. Therefore, many still prefer manual transcribing work since it is processed by experienced or seasoned transcriptionists with guaranteed accuracy and can produce quality outputs. Manual transcribers often use a system or a program that helps them seamlessly play the audio as they type. These transcription programs enable them to modify the speed of the audio to suit their comprehension and typing speed. Other important functions that a transcription program needs to have are the rewind, pause, stop, and fast forward buttons typically programmed with hotkeys for easier and faster use.
An example of free transcription software that has these capabilities is ExpressScribe. It also offers other helpful tools to make a transcriptionist’s job easier such as audio boost, minimizing background noises, and many others. Once done, the transcriber can then send soft copy of the transcripts either through email or print them for physical mail.
Tools to use: filing cabinets, flash drives, cloud storage platforms, FTP sites
Once the researcher/interviewer has got hold of all the necessary things they need, data collection then takes place. For job interviews, a recruiter gathers all the information they have acquired during the interview. This process is paramount in order for the company to completely assess the applicant’s education and employment history, especially if they are choosing among multiple candidates. Furthermore, companies that collate and store other applicant profiles can still get in touch with the other deserving candidates for other job offers in their organization. In the case of market, medical, and academic researches, documentation of interviews would bring about statistics and hypotheses for the subject they are studying. Their fact-finding or analysis can also be archived as a basis for future research work.
All in all, these tools can be utilized to make each and every interview a success. Interviews are very important after all, as it improves the capabilities of the researcher or interviewer’s information-seeking and decision making skills; and for their respondents to be open and candid as they share their knowledge and expertise to others.