Four Things to Remember When Transcribing Interviews

August 13, 2019

Four Things to Remember When Transcribing Interviews

At the end of an interview, there is one dreading but essential task that is left to be done: transcribing. There are also people who underestimate this tedious activity presuming that all you need is this whole bag of tricks and skills in order to complete an entire interview transcription.

They’re not exactly wrong, but there’s more to it. One needs to consider a number of factors including audio quality, typing speed, the number of speakers, accents, equipment used for transcribing, et cetera. With all that considered, it is believed that on average, an hour-long interview can take about four hours to transcribe, perhaps even longer. 

Transcribing is not as easy as baking a pie. It can be intimidating - however, it is achievable.

Remember these important things when transcribing interviews:

Have the right equipment

Having the right equipment goes a long way especially when transcribing something as crucial as interviews. A good set of headphones, plus an updated and functional laptop or computer, and even a comfortable desk chair can all contribute to a smooth process. Make sure you have these things at the palm of your hands before you go through transcribing. 

Check the instructions

Before anything else, you need to check if there are specific instructions provided. The client may prefer for the interview to be transcribed in verbatim including utterances such as “uh” and “uhm”. They could also prefer interview transcripts that don't have verbal tics, such as “I mean” and “you know”. There are cases where recorded confidential information is omitted to comply with data policies and procedures.

It is essential to check with the client first to know whether or not they are following a particular format to avoid having to redo everything.

Be mindful of the time

Make sure you’re not in a rush when transcribing. You need to allow enough time to complete the task or else the quality of your work will not be up to par. Allow yourself to make an initial draft first where you freely transcribe without much worry and leave timestamps for the inaudible portions. This way, you can skip on them and then easily go back later on. After completing the first draft, listen to the recording again and read through the document. Edit as you go along and try to be as accurate as possible. Never paraphrase because crucial information could be lost. 

It doesn’t end well when something is hastily done, so don’t make it a habit to start until the last minute. 

Search, don't guess

One can never be a master of all fields. You will encounter interviews with unfamiliar topics and terminologies, and when this happens, guessing or making up words is not the solution.

You can ask the client for a list of common terms if there’s any available. If not, the internet is your oyster. You have with you vast amounts of resources that you can access by typing a few words and by clicking some links. Exert the effort and do your research.

Always proofread

Once you’ve finished, don’t send off your transcript right away. Proofread your work. Let F7 be your best friend while you spell check your Word file. Check if there are unnecessary punctuation marks that can already be omitted out. Double-check the spelling for easily overlooked errors like writing the word “form” instead of “from”.

Go through the document one last time before finalizing. This will significantly reduce errors and thus fulfill higher precision.

People depend on interview transcription services in order to receive great quality transcripts, not half-baked ones. Remember these tips, start transcribing, and the result will be better than you think.

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