How Can Transcription Services Help Journalists Improve Their Interview Skills?

Oct 19, 2020
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As a journalist, are you too talkative during your interviews or perhaps not being engaging enough? Are the questions you’re asking unclear? You might be oblivious to some of the common mistakes you’re making as an interviewer, but seeing your interviews in written form can help to shed some light on your potential weaknesses. One of the easiest ways to turn your interview audio into text is to use professional transcription services. Once you have your interview transcription in hand, you should ask yourself the following questions:


Are you articulate?

When you’re conducting a professional interview, you should try to avoid filler words and colloquialisms that occur in casual conversations such as “like” and “you know what I mean.” A verbatim transcript is a perfect visual tool for seeing how frequently you use these words or phrases since most of us are completely oblivious to our own everyday speech habits. When ordering a transcript, professional transcription services provide a verbatim option which means all filler words such as “ah,” “um,” and “well” will be included.


Are your questions clear and concise?

Some journalists have a tendency to ask more than one question at a time, which can cause confusion for the person that they’re interviewing. While reading your transcript, if you notice that the interviewee asks for further clarification or for you to repeat questions, work on being more clear and concise. Try to avoid those clunky and confusing questions in any future interviews.


Are you interrupting your interviewee?

Some journalists, in their effort to engage with their interviewees, end up being a little too over-enthusiastic for their own good. Let’s say for example you’re interviewing a subject named Steve, and your exchange looks something like this:


Steve: I worked there for about a decade now and-

You: No way! Really? A decade?

Steve: …I’ve gained so much experience and wisdom that-

You: Oh I bet!

Steve: Yeah, I know it’s been a wonderful journey, and [crosstalk 01:08:35] couldn’t be more grateful.


Poor Steve can’t get a word in. If you’ve got too many hyphens, ellipses, and “crosstalk” tags (which in this case represents interruptions) in your transcript, this is a sign you’re disrupting your interviewee’s speech flow. While not intentional, this might be viewed as rude, and you’ll find that your interviewee’s responses were left unfinished because your interjections threw them off track. You’ll either have to contact them again to get their full response or simply deal with an abbreviated quote for your article.  Both are undesirable outcomes that are completely avoidable.


Are you allowing awkward pauses?
On the flip side, just as a journalist needs to know when to zip their lips, they also need to know when to steer the interview. Long pauses typically signal that the interviewee is waiting for you to take control of the conversation. You can avoid awkward pauses by listening carefully to your interviewee’s response while also formulating questions in your mind to follow up with once they’ve finished speaking. This helps you to avoid digging through your notes or racking your brain for a question while your interviewee waits in an awkward silence.

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