Transcript Of An Interview: How to Write One

    Danilo Coviello

    As a company that specialises in transcription services, we understand the importance that transcripts bring when capturing a key conversation between an interviewee and their interviewer.

    In this article, we will offer you a complete guide on interview transcription and shall also include an example transcript so that you can better visualise how to transcribe an interview yourself.

    Our tips are practical and comprehensive, even for a rookie transcriptionist. Or is this your first time hearing about interview transcripts? If yes, check this post out where we have defined what this type of transcript entails. Plus, you can find everything that you need to know about how to create one!

    With that being said, whether you’re looking at a video transcription or a simple audio recording, let’s get you transcribing your interview.

    What is an Interview Transcript?

    Now that you’ve successfully recorded your interview you’re probably left wondering what to do next.

    Well, this is where transcription comes into play. To put it simply, an interview transcript is an important document that keeps a written record of a completed oral interview, where the act of documenting oral communication between two or more people is undertaken either in real-time or from an audio/video file.

    Request a quote

    Core Skills Needed in Transcription Services

    When it comes to writing an accurate transcription, there are a few core skills that you need to consider before making a start. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, transcribing requires a lot of patience as it can be time-consuming.

    Keeping calm and having a level head is important when beginning the transcript as you will need to stay focused for long periods of time.

    Secondly, honing your listening skills is also a must (obviously) and you will find that you’ll save time in your transcribing tasks once this core skill has been effectively mastered as you will avoid any need to constantly re-listen to the interview or interviews as well as remove any self-doubt that you may have.

    Last, but by no means least, having careful editing skills is also important. The need to be able to maintain a high level of accuracy and to ensure that the written transcription correlates effectively to the original oral interview is essential when editing the words.

    Preparation is Key for Interview Transcripts

    Just like when tackling most things in life, being well-prepared is the most advantageous element to securing success when transcribing. As such, the better prepared you are, the easier the transcription creation becomes. Here, we have compiled a small list of things to look out for when getting yourself prepared:

    Identify the Criteria for Success

    What is it that you’re hoping to get out of this transcription? What is the transcription style? Is this supposed to be a coherent transcription that captures the interview word-for-word (i.e. verbatim transcription)? Or are you looking for a more condensed version of the original oral speech (i.e. detailed notes)? Will you need to come back to this text time and time again with great detail? Or will it simply be a reference piece?

    Request a quote

    Knowing exactly how the transcription needs to be used in the future will allow you to know how to approach it effectively now.

    Identify What Will Affect the Transcription Process

    By identifying the areas that could potentially hamper the process of transcription, you put yourself in an invaluable position to transcribe an interview as you’re aware of what issues you may encounter along the way as well as understanding how to avoid them.

    How fast can you type? (Accurately that is). Understanding how quickly you are able to type words accurately is essential as this will determine how long it will take to transcribe the entire interview or interviews, which is certainly useful when the audio file is quite big. On average, it takes one hour for a seasoned transcriber to transcribe fifteen minutes of recorded audio accurately. That being said, it is important that you can gauge roughly where you stand on the scale of typing speed so that you know how much time to dedicate to your transcription.

    How many speakers are in the recording? By successfully identifying the exact number of people within the audio conversation will set you up for greater accuracy when transcribing. Obviously, the more people that are present in the recording, the greater the time needed to identify and switch between each speaker when transcribing.

    How is the quality of the audio? When the audio quality is poor, the harder it becomes to transcribe as you strain to hear what is said. Not only can this hamper accuracy, but the low quality can provoke frustration after some time has passed. By obtaining a high-quality audio recording, your job as a transcriber becomes considerably easier and more tolerable. If you are unable to invest in a high-quality voice recorder, you can try to mitigate this issue by making sure that you’re recording in a quiet space and ensure that everyone involved speaks clearly and doesn’t talk over the top of others.

    Identify What Tools or Transcription Software You Will Need

    A bad craftsman always blames their tools. That may be true, to a certain extent, but having the right tools can certainly make life as a transcriber run a little smoother. The basic tools needed for transcribing include:

    • A Reliable Computer = Your computer is probably your most important tool. Whilst you do not need a Super Computer to transcribe audio into text, having a good keyboard and a decent amount of processing power to help boost performance when using web-based word processors such as Google Docs are certainly handy. Also, positioning yourself within a quiet and comfortable space is ideal, especially considering that the process of transcription can be a little tedious. Never underestimate your comfort needs.
    • Choosing the Right Transcription Software = Utilising the right transcription software is a must when tackling any transcription task. Tools such as Express Scribe and InqScribe are invaluable (and also free) transcription services that allow you to type and control the audio recording with ease by not having to switch between programs. (Please note that other transcription software is also available).
    • Noise-Cancelling Headphones = A noisy atmosphere can be a frustrating atmosphere to undertake any type of work (except perhaps if you worked in construction). This is no different when it comes to transcribed interviews. Investing in a good set of noise-cancelling headphones can help to eliminate any pesky background noise that could otherwise impede your concentration.

    Identify the Level of Detail Needed in the Transcript

    What’s the difference between verbatim transcription and simply just jotting down descriptive notes? Well, we’re about to tell you. However, first, you need to know exactly what is needed from the transcription, as this will allow you to better decide the level of detail needed when transcribing. When it comes to deciding the level of detail, there are a few options that you can pick from:

    • Detailed Notes = Whilst this approach does not lead to a word-for-word transcription of the audio recording, it does allow the development of a detailed array of notes that offers both quick and easy access to the audio file.
    • Full-Verbatim = This is the rawest form of transcription. Verbatim transcription captures all words present within the audio recording being transcribed. With Full-Verbatim, transcribers also take note of any pauses, false starts, and other verbal tics (as well as any “umms” and “ahs”).
    • Intelligent Verbatim Transcription = Intelligent Verbatim Transcription is known by many names; such as ‘word-for-word’; ‘true verbatim’; or simply just ‘verbatim’. This is a cleaner version of the audio recording, as it details everything that is said but removes any of the verbal extras (such as the “umms” and “ahs”), essentially making it easier to read.

    Just remember that verbatim transcription, whilst being the most detailed often proves to be the most challenging as transcribers need to dedicate more time (and patience) to it as well as possessing a strong sense of focus and extraordinary attention to detail.

    Identify Whether You Need Timestamps and Speaker Identification

    The final area that you must identify before beginning is whether or not you need to include time stamps and speaker identification. Whilst adding these features will take time (so be sure to take this into account when deciding how much time you’ll need to designate to the transcription process), they can prove invaluable as they make the transcription easier to go through to find the relevant information.

    Beginning The Transcription Process

    Whilst every transcriber approaches their transcriptions differently (especially experienced transcribers who have mastered what works well for them), we have successfully identified the most common steps when writing a successful interview transcript:

    1. Listen to the full recording
    2. Determine how much time you will need
    3. Select the proper tools
    4. Write a draft first
    5. Use short-cuts
    6. Proofread your draft
    7. Format the transcript

    Listen to the Full Recording

    Before deciding on the best approach to transcribe, such as deciding to use an audio-to-text converter, outsourcing to an agency, or simply deciding to transcribe yourself, you must first listen to the whole recording from start to finish. This way you can take note of key aspects of the recording, including the number of speakers, the length of the recording, and any technical terminology used.

    Determine How Much Time You Will Need

    If you have decided to transcribe the recording yourself, you now need to determine roughly how long it will take you to complete the task. Just remember that if you are new to transcribing, it could take you anywhere between 7 to 10 hours to finish. When determining the time needed, you should also take into consideration the time needed to format the transcribed document (as well as any editing needs) and also how fast you can type.

    Select the Proper Tools

    We’ve already identified the 3 key tools needed for any transcriber, but just to recap, you will require; a reliable computer; an effective word processor; and a quality voice recorder.

    Write a Draft First

    Writing a first draft, especially in short intervals, can be beneficial as it helps you to concentrate on the task at hand as well as assess how well you have understood the audio recording. This way, you are able to make any adjustments (whether it be technical or personal) in order to make the task of transcribing easier for yourself.

    Use Short-Cuts

    You can save a lot of time by using short-cuts such as auto-correct or auto-complete. Taking full advantage of these basic tools will allow you to continue typing without having to stop along the way to continuously amend any minor spelling or grammatical mistakes. These tools can also be tweaked on your word processor to change any abbreviations that you make. For example, changing TY to thank-you.

    Another invaluable shortcut when transcribing is the use of placeholder text which can be replaced once you have completed the transcription process. A fantastic example is the use of S1 and S2 for Speaker 1 and Speaker 2, which can then be completed with the correct names of those involved later on.

    Proofread Your Draft

    Once you have typed up the entire interview and you feel that the transcript is nearing completetion with all the appropriate time stamps included, you should replay the interview and proofread your transcript to check for any errors and mistakes.

    Format the Transcript

    The last part of the transcription process is the formatting of the completed transcript so that anyone reading it will be able to understand what has been written. Changes can include the font, the addition of headers, titles, and page numbers, and even splitting the text into coherent paragraphs. These format elements will need to be followed if you are to conduct more interviews in order to follow a hour theme.

    Example Transcript

    Example transcripts are one of the most beneficial tools when you start transcribing. Whilst most transcripts of speech will have varying levels of formatting and editing needs depending on the situation, below we have given you an example of a true verbatim transcript that should help to give you a general indication as to how to create your own:

    Interviewee: Mark Thyme, 555-4243, m.thyme@amtcompany

    Interviewer: John Smith, 555-7687, j.smith@ajscompany

    Date: 23.08.2018

    Location of Interview: Delta Building, Room 151

    List of Acronyms: MT = Mark Thyme, JS = John Smith

    [Begin transcript 00:00:10]

    JS: What makes you a good fit for AJSCompany?

    MT: My strong work ethic and attention to detail.

    JS: Um-hm.


    JS: And where were you working before making the decision to apply for a post here?

    MT: I was working in a coffee shop, trying to make my way through the last part of my university studies.

    JS: I see.

    [Door Opens]

    Emma: [inaudible 00:00:37]

    JS: No, that’s great. Thank-you Emma. Good to know.

    [Door Closes]


    JS: And when can you start working for AJSCompany?

    MT: I can start from today.

    JS: Excellent.

    [End of Transcript 00:01:02]

    Over to You

    Following on from our example interview transcription, you now have all the insight and necessary information to be able to transcribe an interview yourself! We know that creating transcribed interviews can be a time-consuming process and seem a little daunting when you haven’t had much experience, but, just like with everything, practice makes perfect. With time (and patience) you’ll find yourself getting used to all the transcription tools and various short-cuts needed to make your life as a transcriber much easier.

    Be sure to visit Espresso Translations to check out our own transcription services and to see how we can help you to gather further data from developing your interview transcripts.