Whether you're a journalist, a researcher, a student or a podcaster, if you're conducting interviews either as a one off or as a regular part of your job, then chances are you're also going to need an interview transcription to accompany it.
Transcribing interviews has a whole host of benefits. It makes it easy to find important quotes to include in reports, articles and essays for starters. It also helps to improve accessibility, as you can share a transcript alongside a podcast recording or add subtitles to a filmed interview to make your content accessible for those that might be deaf or hard of hearing.
In this guide we'll walk you through the fundamentals of transcribing an interview, including how to prepare before the interview has even begun, three ways to transcribe an interview and how to edit the transcription.
How to prepare for an interview that you want to transcribe later
The clearer the recording, the easier it will be to transcribe your interview, so here are some things to consider before you get started with the interview:
Ensure you're conducting the interview in a quiet room where background noise will be minimal. The less background noise there is, the clearer the dialogue will be, which will make it much easier to transcribe.
Using headsets or a dedicated microphone will mean the quality of your audio recording will be clearer and louder than if you use the microphone built into your laptop.
Speaking slowly and clearly, ensuring that the interviewer and interviewees speak one at a time and don't interrupt one another, will make the transcription process easier.
There are three main ways to transcribe an interview, and the one you choose will depend on a variety of factors, including the length of the interview, how much time you have to spare, and your budget.
1. Type it out manually
Manually transcribing the interview yourself is the cheapest option, however the process will be time-consuming - an hour of audio transcription will typically take you upwards of four hours. Without specific transcription software, you'll also have to flick continuously between your word processing tool and your audio every time you need to pause and press play, which can really test your patience!
2. Use an agency or freelancer
Another option is to pay a professional interview transcriber to transcribe your interview for you. These skilled professionals will provide you with accurate transcriptions, however these services can be costly and you might have to wait a matter of days - or even longer - for your transcript.
3. Make the most of automatic transcription software
The easiest way to transcribe an interview is with an automatic transcription service like Transcribe. Our AI-powered audio transcription software provides you with high quality transcriptions in a matter of minutes, and since the process is automated, we can keep costs down and offer you the best possible price.
Depending on the quality of the audio and how many speakers there are, you might need to make small tweaks to the text, but this is easy to do thanks to timestamps that signal exactly where in the recording you need to skip to.
Read our step-by-step guide to transcribing audio using Transcribe.
With Transcribe, you can edit the interview directly in the app or online editor, or you can export your transcript in a variety of formats, including TXT, DOCX, PDF, JPG and SRT. Edits might include adding the date and time and the names of the interviewer and interviewee, as well as cutting out certain irrelevant bits of dialogue.
There are several different levels of detail you can choose to go into, and the type of interview and what the transcript is being used for will determine exactly how precise the transcript needs to be. If you're transcribing manually or using a human transcription service, then you should decide this before you start the transcription process to save time.
Full verbatim transcripts capture every single sound, including false starts, repetitions, 'ums' and 'ahs' and interruptions. This level of detail is much more difficult to capture, and isn't often necessary.
Often called 'intelligent verbatim' or 'clean verbatim', the false starts, 'ums' and 'ahs' are removed to make the transcript easier to read. This is often considered the industry standard and what you would receive from a professional transcription service unless you request otherwise.
If you don't need quite as much detail from your transcript, then perhaps detailed notes or a summary would be better instead. Detailed notes go a step further than verbatim and remove any conversation that is off-topic, while a summary includes simply the main points from the interview.
Conducting interviews as part of a big project? With a transcription you can quickly and easily skim read and search for key themes and quotes to include in your essay, dissertation or thesis.
Interviews are a key component of qualitative research, and a verbatim transcript of your interviews makes it easy for you to search for key quotes to include in your reports.
A transcription of your interviews will enable you to skim for soundbites and important quotes to add to your stories, and if the interview is being filmed and shared online, then you can use the transcript to create subtitles too.
Publishing a written transcript alongside your podcast will boost your SEO, which will help you to reach a wider audience, generate more traffic and grow your listening base. It also makes your content more accessible for audience members that might be deaf or hard of hearing.
As well as making it easy for you to share minutes and meeting summaries, transcriptions can be repurposed and used for reports and articles to support your marketing activity. They can also be turned into subtitles to accompany recordings of important interviews for accessibility purposes.
Ready to transcribe an interview? Transcribe is the quick and easy way to convert your interview to text. You'll receive your transcript in a matter of minutes, which you can then search, amend, condense and export. Download the Transcribe app or launch the online editor to get started.
Written By Katie Garrett
From doing it yourself to using Word, Google Docs or, best of all, the Transcribe App or online editor, learn how to transcribe audio with our helpful guide.