Smile while you dial… Conducting the perfect telephone interview.

February 7, 2012 Samantha

In business, we don’t always have the office space or the time to arrange a face-to-face interview and the best option is to conduct the interview over the telephone. Here are some tips to get the best out of these interviews.

  • Save yourself time and money. Start your recording so that it coincides with your introduction to the respondent, keep this short and then proceed on to your interview questions. Keeping your conversation relevant will help to make the transcript flow and save you from paying for extra minutes of blank audio whilst a receptionist waits on hold to transfer your call to the respondent.
  • Be sure to invest in a good, high quality products and software to record your calls. We all know about the speaker phone function available on most telephones but this function is not designed for use with a standard Dictaphone and will not produce a good quality audio file. As although we may be able to hear the interviewer is saying, the all-important respondent dialogue is likely to leave much to be desired. You should purchase a telephone recording connector. These have two wires, one for connecting between the telephone unit and the handset and the other to be inserted into your recording device, e.g. your Dictaphone. This device will ensure that all of your dialogue is fully audible.
  • Let your respondent take the floor. As in any interview, it is important that speakers do not interrupt each other or ‘shout down’ each other’s comments, or the transcriptionist will be unable to catch all of the dialogue.
  • Save the verbal nods for the office! When conducting a face to face interview or conversation, we use eye contact and body language to let people know we are listening. It’s natural that when you’re on the phone that you will compensate for the lack of visual aid by using verbal nods: hmms, yes’s and ahs to let the respondent know we’re listening and to fill any awkward silences. This is fine if you’re just calling for a chat but from a transcriptionist point of view, there is nothing more frustrating than finding the audio almost indecipherable because an interviewer keeps interrupting with that oh-so-useful, ‘Hmm!’
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your respondent to repeat dialogue that is unclear. Don’t work on the assumption that if you don’t hear it, the transcriptionist will. The audio quality is likely to be worse on a recording and it’s always best to be safe rather than sorry. If you’re not sure something was entirely clear, you can clarify politely and make sure the transcriptionist captures the information by repeating and confirming it back.


For example:

I: What is your chosen company for typing up your reports and correspondence?

R: Transcription City.

I: Ah, Transcription City, you say. They’re brilliant.

And on that note, yes we are!!


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