Top (almost) 10 reasons to get your interviews transcribed
1) Theme spotting
There are times when note taking may indeed be all you need from an interview – a few choice quotes and the general points made could be what you’re looking for. However you may miss some commonalities that thread through your series of interviews on a topic which only become apparent when you look at them all together. Maybe it’s the one word that people use to describe their take on the subject, or their experience of a product/service that you’re researching. Maybe it’s how none of your interviewees mention the one aspect that you presumed would be a key factor/topic.
2) Interview tweaks
One thing that everyone experiences from time to time is that one of your interview questions is not quite eliciting the kind of answers that are useful to you. The interviewee is not hearing the question in the way that you’re trying to ask it. Having a transcript of what your question looks like when they’re misunderstanding the intention allows you to see how they could be interpreting it, which allows you to tweak how you phrase it in the future so that they stay on topic and give you useful answers. Reading back over the conversation lets you be more objective about your interviewing skills and technique. Listening back to yourself talking is the stuff of nightmares for most people (we’ll come back to that).
3) Cut and paste
Having your data there all in front of you allows you to be able to pull out choice quotes very easily.
Analysing your data is made incredibly simple by having all of your interviews in text form. We offer a template which fits straight into NVivo and allows you to fully code and use all of the data you’ve gathered. Finding the moment you need from a recording is time consuming and can be fiddly. A simple search within a document takes moments.
5, 6, 7) Portability, security and storage
Storing all of your interviews in recorded form takes up a lot of hard drive space, especially with some file types. Email applications struggle with large attachments and some recording devices have proprietary file types which render them unplayable on other colleagues’ equipment. Sending a transcript document by email is quick and easy. It’s also a very simple procedure to password protect a Word document to add a layer of security to the storage and sharing of your data.
8) Listening to yourself blather on is most people’s idea of hell
It doesn’t matter how old you are, or how experienced you are with interviewing, you’re almost definitely going to cringe when hearing yourself interviewing someone. The cringe factor increases when you notice yourself mis-hear or misinterpret someone’s answer and then go off on an unrelated tangential line of questions, or even worse… when you hear yourself interrupt the interviewee. We all need to learn from these types of mistakes but it’s a lot easier to get that lesson by reading it than actually hearing it. It’s the theme we see the most on forums and social media, “How do you deal with listening to my voice all the time? I can’t stand it!”
Here’s a link to an article in The Guardian which explains (one part of) this phenomenon.