If you’re a qualitative researcher, the chances are you conduct most of your interviews online using Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Meets. That’s why we’ve created this follow up to our blog post Simple Tips for How to Record an Audio Interview.
Recording remote interviews comes with different challenges to recording audio interviews in person, but the benefits of high quality recording are the same. By following these few simple steps, you can make sure you’re still producing good quality audio recordings.
1. Record within the online platform
It may seem obvious, but use the recording tool within the online platform you are using. Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet all allow you to record a video meeting and all have support pages explaining now to do it. It may be tempting to just put your dictaphone or phone recorder next to your phone or laptop, but this will result in a poorer quality recording, especially of the participant’s voice. Look at the Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet support pages for how to record within the meeting. If you have problems, contact the customer service team, or check out some YouTube videos. Your audio transcription service will be grateful!
2. Speak into the mic
We’ve all been in online meetings where some of the speakers have been inaudible. When you’re interviewing somebody, you want them to feel at ease. However, if the voice is inaudible on the recording, it’s no use to you.
If your interviewee has a set of headphones with a built-in mic encourage them to use them, as they will then be speaking directly into the microphone. Standard mobile phone headphones work fine. If they don’t have these, encourage them to sit closer to the device microphone until you can hear them clearly.
If the person is inexperienced in video calling, do a tech check the day before to iron out any problems. It’s usually worth doing a short test recording before you start the interview, to make sure everyone can be heard clearly.
3. Reduce background noise
Remember this point from our first blog post? Well, it’s exactly the same with an online interview, except that in this case you have less control over where your interviewee will be located. When you schedule the interview, ask them to find a quiet space if they can where they will be undisturbed. If you have audio email notifications, make sure to turn them off.
As before, think about potential sources of background noise, such as passing traffic or a nearby school. Think about closing any windows. If next door’s kids come home at 3pm and make lots of noise, try to organise the interview for a quieter time of day.
4. Check your Internet connection
Video calls can be disrupted by low bandwidth and unstable Internet. You’ll know this is happening when the line starts to crackle or scramble, or the other person’s video freezes altogether. Sometimes you will get a message saying ‘your Internet connection is unstable’.
If your WiFi connection is weak, conduct your interviews as close to your router as possible, or think about using an ethernet cable. If you have a large house and can’t get closer to the router, you could invest in an extender. However, check out these tips before you spend money, because it may simply be that you need to update your router’s firmware or ensure you are on the 5GHz band.
If you have problems within the interview, turning off your own or the interviewee’s video can help, as it reduces the amount of data the device needs to send.
5. Limit speakers talking over each other
Check out our first post Simple Tips for How to Record an Audio Interview for tips on this. It’s just as important when recording online!
These are simple and easy to implement tips on how to record an online interview which is clear and audible.
This will not only help you get the most from your qualitative research, but can also make life easier for your academic transcription service – saving you both time and money.
Do you have any other tips to improve the quality of online interview recordings? Let us know in the comments.
TypeOlogy is an academic transcription service based in the UK.