Seven Mistakes to Avoid When Recording an Interview

InterviewWhether a one-on-one interview, multiple participant interview, or group discussion for legal, business, research, education or entertainment purposes, transcripts of the conversations are useful to get an in-depth view and provide an opportunity for analysis. However, the quality of the interview transcript depends largely on the quality of recording – even if you rely on in-house transcriptionists or a transcription company. Knowing about the common mistakes that tend to happen while making the recording, would allow you to plan in advance and avoid them to ensure quality audio recordings.

Here are the seven audio recording mistakes that you should take care to avoid in order to produce accurate interview transcripts.

  • Using Irrelevant and Obsolete Equipment – Avoid using inferior quality and imperfect microphones for recording interviews. Poor quality equipment will result in poor quality audio. Invest in high quality microphone sets and a professional recording system. Rather than using non-digital recording equipments such as cassettes and VHS tapes, use digital equipment. Though expensive, the sound quality of a digital recording system is far superior to a non-digital recorder.
  • Choosing the Wrong Type of Microphone – If you select wrong type of microphone, you cannot get good audio which is necessary for transcript clarity. Typically, an omni-directional microphone is a good choice for recording an interview as it can pick up sound equally and uniformly from all the directions. In case of documentary interviews, you can use bidirectional microphone for a sit down interview and a lapel microphone for an on-the-fly interview.
  • Forgetting to Check the Equipment – You need to verify that all your recoding equipment is in good condition prior to the interview. If you are using cassettes to record and fall short of batteries, you will have to stop the recording mid-way. Make sure that you have extra cassettes or other necessary equipment so that the recording is not interrupted.
  • Position the Microphone at a Long Distance – Proper placement of the microphone is crucial to ensure good sound quality and to capture the relevant information. So avoid placing the microphone at a long distance from the source of the sound. If you want to get a better reach to your sound source, place the microphone at distance of 15-20 cm from it. Fix the position of the microphone in a way that no information gets spilled out.
  • Unsuitable Volume Levels – If you set up the volume levels inappropriately, the recordings may sound louder than what is actually needed; sometimes, the voice of the interviewer would be clear, but that of the interviewees would not. Set the volume levels of the recording device so that it can capture the sounds of all speakers in the room without getting distorted.
  • Noticeable Background Noise – You should have control over the sound elements outside the conversation inside the interview room. Otherwise, the background noise will dominate and become a major impediment to good quality audio output of the necessary conversation. Sounds such as coughs, sneezes, TVs, fans, cell phones, traffic sounds, tapping foots and more can affect the quality of your recording. Closed doors are advisable for interviews. Using noise-canceling microphones is a feasible option if you cannot control background noises.
  • Cumbersome Speech – If the conversation is cumbersome, the transcriptionist will find it difficult to distinguish the speakers and their voices. Take the following steps before starting the interview to avoid such confusion:
    • Ask all the participants to state their names with its spelling before the interview
    • Insist that everyone should talk loudly, clearly and at normal speed
    • Tell the speakers that there must only one person speaking at a time with no interruptions or talking over one another

In addition to taking care to avoid these mistakes, you should also test the recording at the end to make sure everything is working properly and the voices can be heard clearly before sending it to your interview transcription service provider.

About Julie Clements

Julie Clements

Joined the MOS team in March of 2008. Julie Clements has background in the healthcare staffing arena; as well as 6 years as Director of Sales and Marketing at a 4 star resort. Julie was instrumental in the creation of the medical record review division (and new web site); and has especially grown this division along with data conversion of all kinds.