A Complete Guide To Writing Interview Transcripts

Updated March 10, 2023

Writing an interview transcript requires patience, listening skills and careful editing. Interview transcripts help to streamline the hiring process and provide accurate records of the events that occur in an interview. In this article, we guide you through the interview transcription process and provide you with a list of benefits writing an interview transcription can bring you and your organization. 

What is an interview transcript?

An interview transcript is a written record of a completed oral interview. The interview transcription process documents a conversation between two or more people. This process can be done in real-time or from an audio or video recording. 

The benefits of writing an interview transcript

Transcribed interviews have many benefits for the interviewer and the business organization that uses them. Here are some of the main benefits of writing an interview transcript:

Captures each detail

Details are often missed in interviews and it may be difficult for the interviewer to recall certain answers to important interview questions. Interview transcripts capture each detail for the interviewer to review later. 

Enables others to access the interview

There may be more than one decision-maker involved in the hiring process. Instead of meeting to discuss an interview candidate’s answers, you may provide others with the interview transcript for them to review. It is easy to email copies to those who have a say in who is hired. You may also choose to keep the interview in the employees’ file after they are hired.

Allows the interviewer to focus

Interviewers often write notes on the responses their candidates give to questions. This may confuse and disrupt the active-listening process. An interview transcript can be reviewed later and may take the place of notes. This will allow the interviewer to give the candidate their full attention. 

Provides you with direct documentation

Having direct documentation to refer to will enable your interviewer to have a detailed examination of the events of the entire interaction. This will improve the interviewers’ understanding of the interaction and help them to select the correct candidate for the organization. 

Saves valuable time

The hiring process can be streamlined when you use interview transcription because you will have all of the necessary information from each interview without having to recall minor details or facts about the interaction. You will have the ability to avoid time-consuming tasks like writing notes, meeting with your supervisor to discuss candidates or second and third interviews. 

How to transcribe an interview

There are a few different methods you can take when transcribing interviews. Here are the most common steps to writing a successful interview transcript:

  1. Listen to the full recording.

  2. Determine how much time you’ll need.

  3. Select the proper tools.

  4. Write a draft first.

  5. Use short-cuts.

  6. Proofread your draft.

  7. Format the transcript.

1. Listen to the full recording

Some recordings can be complex. It is important for you to analyze a recording before you choose the method of transcription. Listen to the recording from beginning to end before you choose to use an audio-to-text converter, outsource it to an agency or transcribe it yourself. Check for items like:

  • The number of speakers

  • The length of the recording

  • Technical terminology

  • Whether you will transcribe one part of the interaction or the entire conversation

2. Estimate how much time you’ll need

Once you decide to transcribe the interview yourself, assess your typing speed and the length of the recording to calculate how long the transcription process will take. If you are a beginner, it may take anywhere from 7-to-10 hours. You should also include the time it will take you to format and time-code the transcription. 

3. Select the proper tools

You will need a variety of tools to write an interview transcription. Some of these items include:

  • An audio player

  • Word processor

  • Headphones

You will likely need to download a free transcription audio play on your computer because it allows you to use hot-keys for play/pause/rewind/fast-forward/time-coding functions without you needing to take your hands off the keyboard. You will need a word processor to type the document. You may do this using the text editor built into the transcription software you installed or you can use other word processors. The last tool you will need is headphones so you can listen to the recording without distractions to transcribe the audio as accurately as possible. 

4. Write a draft first

Once you are set up with the necessary tools, you can begin transcribing. Start typing the conversation you hear into the word processor without formatting. It may be best to transcribe in short intervals to help you stay focused. 

5. Use short-cuts 

The best way to save time when transcribing is to use shortcuts like auto-correct or auto-complete. These tools allow you to continue typing without having to correct every minor typing error as you go. For example, auto-correct will fix the spelling if you accidentally type “THNAK” instead of “THANK.” You can also set up auto-complete on your word processor to change “YK” to “you know” or other acronyms of your choice. You will also need to place time codes next to missing words, pauses or phrases to let the reader know words or phrases are missing at that time. 

 It may also be helpful to use placeholder text that you can replace when you are finished with the transcription process. For example, you can use “S1” and “S2” for speaker 1 and speaker 2 and fill in specific names later. 

6. Proofread your draft

Once you have the entire transcript drafted and the time-codes are in place, you should replay the entire interview and proofread your text to identify errors. This way you can fill in blanks and add necessary details to make the transcript easy to comprehend. 

7. Format the transcript

The transcript will need to be formatted properly so it is easy for the reader to decipher. You will likely need to change the font, split the text into paragraphs and add, headers, titles and page numbers. 

Example of an interview transcript

There may be different formats for interview transcripts depending on the purpose of the interview. Here is a common example of an interview transcript:

Interviewee: Michael Stowfield, 555-4242, m.stowfield@abccompany
Interviewer: Lincoln Burnnos, 555-7788, l.burnnos@xyzcompany

Date: Wednesday, July 23

Meeting place: Room N102
Attendees: MS = Michael Stowfield (interviewer), LB = Lincoln Burnnos (interviewee)

MS: Welcome back, Lincoln. This is the third part of our interview, and I would like to get you through these as efficiently as possible as I know you have another interview later in the day.

LB: Thank you. I would greatly appreciate that.

MS: It states on your resume that you use to work for JKL Company, in the sales department. What did you do there?

LB: Yes. I worked as a Sales Manager there for two years. I increased sales from $500-000 to $1 million over the course of those two years.

MS: So you increased sales there by $500,000 in only two years?

LB: Yes, and I’m very proud of that.

MS: Yes, that’s very impressive Lincoln. Sorry, one sec. Susan is bringing us some coffee.

[Door opens]

Susan: [inaudible 02:40]

MS: No, no, that’s great. Thanks, Susan. Good.

[Door closes]

MS: I see you started your own sales company too. Was that intentional, or did it just sort of happen?

LB: Really, sort of both. I got into sales to help out a friend of mine and before I knew it I was running my own company. At first, I didn’t really know how anything worked, but I was quickly able to adapt while also building up sales.

MS: Once again, quite impressive. I always wanted to start my own company but it never happened. What kind of challenges did you face during this time, when the business was just starting up?

LB: [laughs] Challenges? Every day back then was a challenge because there was so much going on and so much to do. But looking back, it was probably getting the initial capital to fund the business. I had $2,000 in the bank when I began. I had to visit over 12 banks before anyone would give me a loan.

Steve: That does sound extremely challenging.

[End of Interview]

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