The Ultimate Guide to Interview Transcripts

The Ultimate Guide to Interview Transcripts

Portrait of Jessica Lark's Author
Portrait of Jessica Lark's Author

Jessica O

November 27, 2023


Nov 27, 2023


15 min read

Two characters sitting on two chairs in front of a table; one with a black suite has microphone, notepad and pen on his hands, the other with a brown suite sitting with hands crossed.
Two characters sitting on two chairs in front of a table; one with a black suite has microphone, notepad and pen on his hands, the other with a brown suite sitting with hands crossed.
Two characters sitting on two chairs in front of a table; one with a black suite has microphone, notepad and pen on his hands, the other with a brown suite sitting with hands crossed.
Two characters sitting on two chairs in front of a table; one with a black suite has microphone, notepad and pen on his hands, the other with a brown suite sitting with hands crossed.

Interview transcripts play a crucial role in making interview content accessible, engaging, and informative. Whether you're a researcher, journalist, or content creator, transcribing your interviews can provide numerous benefits. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the importance of interview transcripts and provide you with the step-by-step process of creating high-quality transcripts. So let's dive in!

Why are Interview Transcripts Important?

Interview transcripts serve as a written record of oral interviews, capturing every word spoken by the interviewer and interviewee. These transcripts are valuable for a variety of reasons:

  1. Accuracy: Writing down what was said in interviews makes sure everything is captured correctly, giving a trustworthy record for reference.

  2. Analysis: Having a written copy of the interview helps in understanding and comparing different interviews to spot important trends and ideas.

  3. Sharing: Written interviews can be given to colleagues, important people involved, or experts, which helps in working together and getting more perspectives.

  4. Record-keeping: Keeping a written version of interviews provides a lasting record that can be looked back on for research or as a reference.

  5. Accessibility: Providing interviews in written form makes them available to those who are deaf or hard of hearing, or who speak other languages.

Different Use Cases of Interview Transcription

  • A form of evidence in legal proceedings, providing an unbiased record of what was said.

  • A form of art, with the transcript serving as a creative interpretation of the spoken words.

  • A form of historical documentation, preserving the voices and stories of individuals for future generations.

  • In academic qualitative research to gain insights and understand human behavior for social sciences.

  • To be repurposed into blog posts, social media content, and user testimonials to enhance brand visibility and engagement.

Different Types of Interview Transcription

Verbatim transcription

Definition: This method involves transcribing every word as it is spoken, including filler words, false starts, grammatical errors, and other verbal cues. It captures the exact manner in which words are spoken.


Original: "I think we should go to the movies tonight because of the discount."

Verbatim: "And so, um, I guess… I think we should go to the, the m- m- movies tonight ‘cause of the discount (laughs)".

Original: "I called her yesterday and she was sleeping. Probably, she was just really tired."

Verbatim: "I like, you know, called her, like, yesterday and, um, like, she was, like, sleeping. Probably, she was just like, really tired"

Semi-Verbatim transcription

Definition: Semi-verbatim transcription captures the essence of a conversation while omitting unnecessary details such as filler words and minor digressions. It balances between verbatim and summary transcription, offering a more polished version of the interview.


The transcript of an interview in a coffee shop, including relevant background noises and nonverbal communication, but omitting filler words and non-essential details

Intelligent transcription

Definition: This method adds a layer of filtering to extract the meaning from what was said. It omits all “ums,” “oms,” laughter, and pauses, and performs some light editing to correct sentences and grammar. It is used when the meaning of the spoken words is more critical than the exact wording.


Original: "Well, uh, you know, it's kind of like, um, when you're trying to, uh, solve this problem, and, uh, it just doesn't, you know, work out the way you planned, um, because of various, uh, unexpected issues."

Intelligent Verbatim: "It's similar to attempting to solve a problem and it not working out as planned due to various unexpected issues."

Edited transcription

Definition: In this method, a full and accurate script is formalized and edited for readability and clarity. It may be used for content that is planned to be published or translated. It often requires converting spoken language into a more formal written style.


Original:"Yeah, so, like, I was thinking, um, maybe we could, you know, start that project next week, perhaps?"

Edited: "I suggest we initiate the project next week."

How to Transcribe an Interview: Step-by-Step Guide

Transcribing an interview may seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach, it can become a streamlined process. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you transcribe your interviews effectively:

Step 1: Prepare for the Transcription Process

Before you begin transcribing, it's essential to ensure that you have the necessary tools and resources in place. Here are a few key considerations:

  1. Audio Quality: Make sure that your audio recording is clear and of good quality. Adjust the volume, use noise-canceling headphones if necessary, and eliminate any background noise to enhance audio clarity.

  2. Transcription Type: Decide whether you want to create a full verbatim transcript, capturing every word and nonverbal sound, or an intelligent verbatim transcript that omits filler words and nonessential utterances.

  3. Transcription Method: Choose the transcription method that suits your needs. You can transcribe manually, use AI-based transcription software, or outsource the transcription to a professional service.

  4. Transcription Tools: Equip yourself with the right tools, such as a transcription software or word processing software, a reliable audio player, and a comfortable pair of headphones. Consider using a foot pedal for hands-free control if you have a large volume of audio to transcribe.

Step 2: Familiarize Yourself with the Recording

Before starting the transcription process, listen to the entire recording from start to finish. Pay attention to the audio quality, the number of speakers, the length of the recording, and any technical or contextual aspects that may affect the transcription.

Step 3: Start Transcribing

Now it's time to begin transcribing. Depending on your chosen method, follow one of the following approaches:

  1. Automatic Transcription Software: If you opt for AI-based transcription software, upload your audio or video recording to the software. It will process the recording and provide you with a draft transcript. Review and edit the transcript for accuracy.

    Choose accurate and efficient interview transcription software like Lark is important to facilitate your transcription process, ensuring high accuracy and turnaround time.

  2. Manual Transcription: If you prefer to transcribe manually, open a word processing software and start typing out the interview, listening to the recording and carefully transcribing each word spoken.

    During the transcription process, transcribe a draft without worrying about perfection. Focus on capturing the content accurately, using shortcuts like time codes, placeholder text, and speaker labels to save time.

Step 4: Proofread and Edit

Once you have a draft transcript, it's crucial to proofread and edit it for accuracy and readability. Listen to the recording again, comparing it with your transcript to ensure that every word and utterance is accurately captured. Check for any errors, inconsistencies, or inaudible parts, and make necessary corrections.

Step 5: Format the Transcript

After proofreading, format your transcript to make it organized and easy to read. Consider adding paragraph breaks, speaker labels, time stamps, and any other formatting elements that enhance clarity and understanding. If you plan to publish the transcript, include a title and page numbers.

Step 6: Save and Store the Transcript

Finally, save your transcript in a secure and accessible location. Consider using cloud storage services or shared drives to ensure easy access and backup. It's essential to keep your transcripts confidential and comply with any legal or ethical considerations regarding privacy and data protection.

Benefits of Interview Transcription

Two large microphones side by side with noise waves

Interview transcription offers several benefits that can enhance your research, content creation, or legal proceedings. Here are some key advantages:

Enhanced Data Accuracy and Completeness

Transcribing interviews ensures accuracy and completeness in data collection. By capturing every word spoken, including nonverbal cues, you minimize errors and omissions, providing a reliable source of information.

Easier Data Analysis and Insights

Transcripts facilitate data analysis by identifying patterns, themes, and key insights. They allow for deeper exploration and interpretation of qualitative data, making it easier to draw accurate conclusions and make informed decisions.

Time-Saving and Cost-Effective

Transcribing interviews saves time by reducing the need for manual transcription, freeing up researchers to focus on other aspects of their work. It also maximizes the time of interviewers and participants by eliminating the need for note-taking, ensuring that valuable information is accurately captured.

Accessibility and Collaboration

Transcripts make interview content accessible to a wider audience, including people with hearing impairments or those who speak different languages. They can be easily shared and collaborated on, providing diverse perspectives and insights.

Challenges of Interview Transcription

While interview transcription offers numerous benefits, it also comes with its challenges. Here are some common obstacles you may encounter:

Different Interview Styles and Formats

Each interview style and format presents unique challenges. One-on-one interviews are relatively straightforward, while group interviews or focus groups can be more complex due to multiple speakers talking simultaneously.

Poor Audio Quality

Background noise, interruptions, or technical issues with recording equipment can make it challenging to transcribe interviews accurately. It's important to ensure good audio quality by using the right equipment and minimizing external disturbances.

Sensitive Information and Confidentiality

Interviews may contain sensitive information, and it's essential to handle it with care. Respecting privacy, obtaining informed consent, and adhering to legal and ethical considerations are crucial to maintain confidentiality and build trust.

Interview Transcription Best Practices

Two microphones on two chairs with a table in between; the word 'interview' is written above the two microphones
  1. Transcribe in Chunks: Work in segments and take regular breaks to rest your eyes and brain. This helps reduce errors caused by fatigue.

  2. Use Computer Shortcuts: Embrace autocorrect and autocomplete features to speed up the transcription process. You can even customize autocorrect for specific abbreviations or phrases.

  3. Utilize Speaker Labels: Initially, write out speakers' full names, then use initials for subsequent mentions. Make sure each paragraph in the transcript is clearly labeled.

  4. Handle Unintelligible Words Carefully: If you can't understand a word or phrase, insert "[unintelligible]" in brackets. Skipping over difficult parts can confuse readers or listeners.

  5. Add Speaker Designation and Time Stamps: This helps in identifying who is speaking and at what point in the interview. It's especially useful for lengthy or complex interviews.

  6. Clarify and Edit the Transcript: If necessary, add comments for clarity or mark unclear audio with ellipses. Emphasizing certain words can also be helpful.

  7. Include Key Information: Ensure the transcript includes names (which can be anonymized), date and time of the interview, location, and any other relevant details.

  8. Proofread Thoroughly: Finally, proofread the transcript to catch any mistakes that might lead to information bias or omitted variable bias

Example of Using Interview Transcripts with Lark

"At my job, we had to interview different customers every day. Using interview transcript allows us to have a written record of every interview. This allows better transparency and facilitate information flow. You no longer have to fill someone in - just send them the meeting transcript. Using Lark helps reduce the time and potential error of writing interview transcripts."

— Anonymous vice president at a retail company

"Best interview transcription tool ever!"

— Anonymous employee at a technology company

In Conclusion

Interview transcription is an essential tool for researchers, journalists, and content creators. By transcribing your interviews, you ensure accuracy, facilitate analysis, and make your content accessible to a wider audience. With the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you can confidently embark on the transcription process, creating high-quality transcripts that capture the essence of your interviews. Embrace the benefits of interview transcription and overcome the challenges to unlock the full potential of your interview content.

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