A Beginner's Guide to Transcripted Interviews

a beginners guide to transcripted interviews

Transcripts are valuable for many reasons. They can be used for research, legal proceedings, and as transcripts of audio or video interviews.

They can also make it easier to create testimonials. You can use quotes from your interviewees to tell their stories and showcase the value of your product or service.

Listen to the Recording

Recording and transcribing interviews is a valuable way to capture detailed information, often exceeding the speed and accuracy of handwritten notes. But before you hit record, there are a few crucial steps to ensure a smooth and efficient transcription process. First, set yourself up for success with a comfortable workspace, a solid keyboard, and a reliable computer. Next, invest in high-quality headphones to block background noise and enhance your focus on every word spoken. Now, with the practicalities covered, let’s dive into the heart of the matter: what is a transcribed interview, and how do you approach it effectively?

As you listen to the recording, take notes about the key themes and topics discussed. In the transcript, it is also helpful to note non-verbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions. These details will help you analyze the interview later and may lead to new insights. Lastly, it is crucial to mark who is speaking in the transcript. This can be challenging with multiple participants, but transcription software like Notta can help. Try a few practice runs before an interview to see how the software handles different accents and words.

It is also essential to use proper punctuation in the transcript. This includes using paragraphs when a topic or speaker changes and correctly marking pauses and contractions. This helps make the transcript more readable and ensures accurate content.

Take Notes

Taking notes while you record or transcribe an interview is a great way to stay focused and capture critical points for analysis. But it’s essential to remember who will use your transcription and what level of accuracy you need, as this impacts how you take notes during the interview.

Handwritten note-taking compels the interviewer to fully engage with the participant, a valuable social cue for maintaining that critical participant-researcher relationship throughout data collection and analysis. It also encourages highly reflective behavior in the researcher and helps to avoid common mistakes like misunderstanding or misquoting responses.

If you choose to take notes during your interview, review the questions beforehand to ensure they are fresh in your mind and prioritize your most pressing questions. During the interview, try to be as natural as possible. But remember that the interviewee can talk faster than you can scribble, so it’s essential to utilize efficient writing tactics and be willing to paraphrase in some instances.

Some researchers prefer to use a system of keywords and timestamps to keep track of specific details during the interview. This is helpful when analyzing the transcript later and can save you from scrubbing through an hour-long interview to find the one question you want to revisit. Though time-consuming, this approach can also be productive and an excellent substitute for collecting notes like a standard Brain Dump document.

Start Transcription

Transcription is a skill that takes practice. It requires more than just typing and listening to audio; it’s essential to be comfortable with the speakers’ language, which can sometimes present challenges. You’ll also need to be able to edit your work, correct spelling and grammar errors, and ensure that the text reflects what was said in the recording.

As you work, keeping a good record of your progress using software that allows you to mark completed or edited transcripts is helpful. This can help you track your time and improve your productivity. Developing good organizational skills to manage multiple tasks simultaneously is essential. Using to-do lists or project management apps can be a great way to keep up with your work and improve your focus.

Many businesses and individuals need or want transcripts of recordings, such as meetings, interviews, speeches, lectures, or podcasts. Often, these transcriptions are used for legal or business purposes, but they can also be helpful for personal reasons, such as preparing an essay or writing a novel. Transcripts can be a cost-effective solution for those who need a written version of an audio file.


Whether transcribing for journalism, academics, or content creation, converting audio files into written text is a critical skill. And while the transcription process can be tedious, it can be improved with preparation techniques and careful attention to detail.

One fundamental way to ensure a quality transcript is by taking the time to edit and proofread your work. This means addressing spelling and grammar errors, double-checking timestamps, and ensuring consistency in formatting, paragraphing, and punctuation. It’s also a good idea to remove irrelevant filler words, such as “uhm,” “yeah,” and “um.”

Finally, make sure you’re familiar with the subject matter. This will help you better understand the overall tone, ebb, and flow of the interview and any technical explanations or specialized vocabulary. Puui recommends listening to the entire recording before you start transcription to establish an initial structure.

In addition to these editing techniques, it’s essential to remember that transcription is not an exact science. Even professional transcript writers sometimes make mistakes. This is especially true if the audio recording needs better quality or lighter accents. Therefore, it’s essential to be aware of any potential issues beforehand and to use the proper tools (a pair of headphones, a laptop or desktop computer with a decent word processor and keyboard) to make your job as easy as possible.