Tips for recording interviews and focus groups

To receive a good quality transcript, the best place to start is with a good quality recording!  If the transcription service provider is listening to a nice clear sound file, then there are less chances of mishears, inaudible and typos.

At Business Friend, we recommend following the below tips for recording interviews and focus groups to help improve the quality of your recording and, therefore, the quality of the transcript you receive:

  1. Use the correct recording equipment.  Digital equipment does generally provide a higher quality recording, and you do not need to worry about analogue cassettes losing quality over time.  There are many suppliers of dictation and recording software out there, with manufacturers such as Sony, Philips or Olympus offering specialist equipment for recording dictation, telephone interviews, face-to-face interviews and conferences & focus groups, and Skype has software options for recording Skype conversations.  Ask colleagues for recommendations, or contact Business Friend and we can advise of the equipment used for some of the nicer recordings we receive!
  2. Record in a quiet environment.  Transcriptionists will be able to work quicker and more effectively if there is little background noise on the recording to distract from what is being said by the speakers.  In particular, radios, TVs, children, pets and restaurant or bar noise are a common problem when trying to transcribe a discussion, so ideally ensure you are recording interviews or focus groups in a quiet location with few distractions.
  3. Reduce over talking in focus groups.  This often happens in focus groups as the participants can get very animated about their subject!  Ask for speakers to introduce themselves before they begin so the transcriber can identify the participants as accurately as possible throughout the transcript, and try to facilitate the focus group so there is minimal over talking to allow the transcriber to pick up as much of the conversation as possible.
  4. Minimise interruptions.  Sometimes, when recording interviews, the interviewer does need to interrupt as a question springs to mind whilst the interviewee is speaking, or if the interviewee is going off-track from the subject, but wherever possible, it’s advisable to let the interviewee finish what they are saying without interruptions or too many acknowledgements (hmm-hmm, yeah, I know), as this can make the transcript difficult to read.  If you do not wish these interruptions to be transcribed, you can always request they are omitted by the transcriber or transcription agency.

If you would like any further information on recording interviews and focus groups, please do not hesitate to contact us.  Business Friend has been providing transcription services in the UK since 2003 and we’re more than happy to share our knowledge with you!