How to Transcribe an Interview Quickly

Robot with a keyboard - transcribing interviews for research quickly
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If you’ve ever tried to take notes while someone else was talking, you probably quickly realized that they can speak faster than you can write. That is the reason why people who interview others for a living, whether for news or research, usually record the conversation and then listen to it later. Should you find yourself in this situation, you may be wondering how to transcribe an interview quickly.

With a recording of the interview, you can go back and listen to the conversation at your leisure. You also have the ability to transcribe what the other person said, so there’s less chance of mixing up or misinterpreting their words.

Different Types of Transcriptions

Before asking how to transcribe an interview quickly, it’s important to understand that there are different types of transcriptions that can be created. It’s also imperative to realize that how fast you get through an interview and transcribe it from spoken words into written words will depend on the quality of the recording and how many people are talking.

It doesn’t matter if you are transcribing interviews for research or a news article, you’ll need to determine what information is important and how it will appear in written form. The different types of transcription include the following:

Verbatim Transcription

When it comes to a verbatim interview transcription, this includes writing down every single word, phrase and emotion that was caught on tape. You’ll even include pauses, laughter, coughs or other sounds, hesitations and the speaker’s use of the words, “uh,” “umm,” “yeah” and “you know.”

Every moment that occurred during the verbal interview will be included in the written transcription.

More often than not, verbatim transcriptions are used in the legal world or while transcribing interviews for research. In these situations, not only are you interested in what the person had to say, but also how they said it.

Intelligent Verbatim Transcription

If you are creating an intelligent verbatim transcription, you will still record in writing every word that was spoken, but you’ll leave out the pauses, sounds and fillers, such as the use of “uh” and “umm.”

In this type of transcription, you can also fix long paragraphs, incomplete sentences or grammar errors.

This can create a transcript that is easier to read, but you’ll lose some of the data in the process, especially as it applies to the emotions of the speaker.

Edited Transcription

An edited transcription is a further edited version of an intelligent verbatim transcription. Not only do you have the ability to get rid of noises and filler words, but you can also delete sentences that are irrelevant to the topic at hand.

If you are asking how to transcribe an interview quickly, this is probably the fastest way to complete the process, but you are leaving out some of the information in the written version that was included in the spoken interview.

How to Transcribe an Interview Quickly

Now that you know what types of transcriptions exist, you can go through the process of transforming the spoken word into the written word. When it comes to the steps for interview transcription, they include the following:

Step 1: Listen to Your Recording

When asking how to transcribe an interview quickly, the first thing you’ll want to do is listen to the recording in its entirety. This will give you an idea of the quality of the recording and allow you to determine if you need to create an interview transcription of the entire conversation or just parts of it.

While listening to your recording, you can also decide what type of transcription you want to make. Should you decide you need a verbatim transcription, this will take longer than creating an edited transcription.

a person with headphones

Step 2: Create a Rough Draft

After you’ve listened to the recording once, you are then ready to go back to the beginning and create a rough draft.

At this point, you want to get as much down onto paper as you can, but don’t worry too much about how accurate you are. You don’t need to worry about formatting or spelling right now. Remember, this is a rough draft, so it doesn’t have to be perfect.

a person with a laptop and a smile

Step 3: Make Edits

When learning how to transcribe an interview quickly, after you’ve created a rough draft, you’ll then need to go back and listen to the recording again and make changes to your transcription. Make sure you’ve recorded everything accurately.

Now is also the time you’ll want to go through and make sure words are spelled correctly and change them if they aren’t.

Make Edits - a person with a laptop

Step 4: Format Your Transcription

The format of your transcription typically needs paragraph breaks, speaker tags (so the reader knows who said what) and page numbers. You might also include time markers, so the reader knows where within the recording a certain phrase was spoken, headers and titles.

When asking how to transcribe an interview quickly, you get to decide how to format your transcription to make it easier for you to read and find information.

Format Your Transcription

Tips on Transcribing Interviews

When wondering how to transcribe an interview quickly, the steps listed above are what you will follow to do the process manually.

After reading through the process, you may not think that it’s going to be quick. Depending on the length of the recording, it could take several hours up to a few days to transcribe the spoken words into written words. Certain types of transcription also take longer than others (verbatim vs. edited).

To potentially shorten the amount of time the transcription takes, it’s helpful if you have the right software to be able to play the recording back, and you might also consider getting a transcription pedal.

A pedal makes it easier for you to start/stop, rewind and fast forward the recording while keeping your hands free to type. This is the equipment that professionals use. If you find that you are going to be transcribing interviews often, a pedal may be worth the investment.

Software that Transcribes for You

When it comes to some other tips on transcribing interviews, you might also consider getting software that is capable of audio-to-text transcription. You can find these on websites or download apps. When wondering how to transcribe an interview quickly, this might be the fastest way to achieve your goals.

Some of the best transcription software options you might consider include the following:

Happy Scribe

This software has the ability to convert audio to text in more than 60 different languages. You also have the ability to assign speaker names and develop vocabulary lists. With their API, you can sync third-party tools to make the transcription process even faster and smoother.

how to transcribe an interview quickly - Happy Scribe

Amberscript

Amberscript is used by companies such as Microsoft, Netflix and Disney because it uses AI to create transcriptions with a high amount of accuracy. There’s even an online text editor that allows you or the company’s human transcribers to ensure the audio to text is completely accurate.

If you have a limited budget or can’t see the benefit in paying for transcription software because you won’t use it often, you may be able to find some free interview transcription options, which will make the process less daunting and time-consuming.

The only thing you’ll need to remember is that not all audio-to-text transcription software is created equal, so it’s advised that you re-listen to your recording while reading the transcript and make edits to ensure it was transcribed properly.

One of the free transcription options include:

how to transcribe an interview quickly - Amberscript

Voice Record Pro

Most people use this app to record interviews and have them stored on their phones, but it does come with the ability to turn the recorded audio into text, which can make the transcription process quick and easy.

how to transcribe an interview quickly - Voice Record Pro

Work with a Professional

One of the last tips on transcribing interviews that you might consider is to work with a paid transcription service. This, of course, will be more expensive than free interview transcription, but you often get what you pay for.

When asking how to transcribe an interview quickly, when you hire a transcription service, you’ll be working with professionals who transcribe for a living. They’ll be able to get through your recording quickly, create the document you want (verbatim, intelligent verbatim or edited) and have it formatted properly.

You won’t have to worry about listening to your recording over and over again to find the information you’re looking for. After a professional has gone through and put the spoken words into writing, you can read the transcript and highlight the most important information.

Make Audio Conversion as Simple as Possible

Whether you’re sitting in a lecture, interviewing someone for a news article, or conducting research, recording the conversation is the best way to ensure you are getting every bit of information you need. Once you have the information in audio format, you are probably wondering how to transcribe an interview quickly.

If you are going to do the transcription manually, these are the steps you’ll need to follow include:

  • Step 1: Listen to Your Recording
  • Step 2: Create a Rough Draft
  • Step 3: Make Edits
  • Step 4: Format Your Transcription

Of course, manual transcription isn’t the only option you have when it comes to converting audio files into text files. You can also download software or apps or send your file to a professional to have them transcribe the information for you.

Deciding which option is best will come down to how much time and money you can spend on transcription.

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