Some Basics for Recording Interviews

Tips for Recording an Interview

Here you are! You've researched, wrote, revised for what seemed like an eternity and finally, your Chair said you were ready to conduct your research. Your planned data collection is open-ended semi-structured face-to-face interviews. You scheduled your first interview and everything seems to go as planned...until you replay the interview.

What started as an exhilarating experience, beginning your first journey as an independent scholar, has now become a disaster. All you can hear is garble with a few recognizable words.

What happened? Why me?!

That scene can be avoided with a few simple steps that will ensure good quality recordings that can easily be transcribed.



  • Recorder can be a digital one with an external microphone jack or a smartphone.
  • Use a lapel microphone if doing in person interviews.
  • Use fresh batteries or make sure smartphone is fully charged before beginning.
  • Make sure you know your questions and have a copy in front of you during the interview.



  • Relax!
  • Maintain eye contact during the interview.
  • Take some notes during the interview if possible.


  • After the interview, find a quiet place with no phone or other distraction to do a "brain dump" of the interview for later use.
  • As soon as possible, upload digital file to computer, using pseudonym as filename. Include date of the interview.

Following these simple steps can guarantee a wonderful and satisfying research experience.