Graduate Students - Three Ways to Get Truly Awesome Audio Recordings of Your Interviews

Recorded interviews are a critical part of research for graduate students. You have to conduct interviews, and because there is no way to take good notes as fast as your interviewee talks, you have to record the interviews. But how do you make sure you get the very best recording possible without breaking the bank for professional recording equipment? These three tips will help you get the very best results with the tools you already have.

1. Location: The most important (and most obvious) way to get a great recording is to choose a place for the interview that is quiet and distraction free. Ambient noise can prevent you or your transcriptionist from hearing every detail of the interview, which is a disaster when your facts have to be absolutely accurate. We never recommend interviewing any important discussion in a noisy environment because it will affect the quality of your transcript. If you don't have control over the location of the interview, try to minimize ambient noise by putting the recording equipment closer to the subject. If there is a lot of background noise, such as in a coffee shop or outside, use a louder voice when asking the questions, which will prompt the interviewee to respond in a louder voice as well.

2. Equipment: When you are watching your budget, the best way to get a great recording of your interviews is to use your smart phone. The recorders on smart phones are surprisingly good. Be sure that you experiment with the recording function on your cell phone before you go to the interview so that you know how to operate it. Experiment with speaking at different distances from the phone microphone so you know the optimal distance for your subject. Try the phone recorder in areas where there is ambient noise so that you know how it will affect the recording. Sounds that we usually don't even notice, like an air conditioner or a laptop fan will make spoken words harder to hear. A couple quick tricks when using a cell phone to record an interview: Put it in airplane mode so it won't buzz or ring during the interview, and put it on a surface that won't create a buzz if the phone vibrates or gets bumped. If using your smart phone is not an option, there are multiple digital recording options under $80 available at office supply stores or online.

3. Use good interview techniques: The way you conduct the interview has a big impact on the quality of your audio recording. First, let your interviewee have center stage. When you interrupt or ask too many questions as they are speaking, the recording is more difficult to understand and more difficult to transcribe. Transcription will take longer, costing you time and money. Let them talk, only asking questions after they pause or stop talking. Secondly, if you can't hear what your interviewee is saying, it is likely the audio recording is not picking it up either. Don't be afraid to ask them to repeat something you didn't quite catch or ask them to speak a little louder.

With a little practice, experience, and patience you can get amazing recordings of your interviews, saving yourself a lot of hassle when it comes time to write up your results. After you make a great recording, Connecticut Secretary can help with the transcription. Please contact us to discuss our transcription services today.

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