Recording the interview
At the interview planning stage, you should give consideration to how you will record your interview. The method of recording may depend upon the structure of the interview that you have chosen to use.
If you are undertaking a structured interview, you will probably have a prepared form onto which you can write down a numerical code or tick the appropriate box. This is a highly focused method and the idea is to collect a large amount of information in a short space of time.
If you are carrying out a more detailed study such as a semi- or unstructured interview, you will probably want to voice record, or perhaps even film the interview and take a transcript of the conversation afterwards. This will allow freedom of interaction between the interviewee and the interviewer during the interview itself. You must ask permission before recording the interview and if the interviewee will not agree you will have to resort to note taking. The disadvantage of note taking is that you will only record as much as you can write but the advantage is that you will tend to record the things that you feel are most important at the time.
Other more basic things to consider if you are note taking:
- have plenty of pens and paper
- make sure pages are numbered so that you can follow the course of the conversation
- clearly indicate which questions are being answered and record any impromptu questions
- something to rest on like a clipboard
- It might be wise to re-write or annotate your notes immediately after the interview whilst the information is still fresh in your head. It may be necessary to type up your notes particularly if other people are going to be using them.
Even if you do record your interview, you may also still find it useful to take some notes during the interview such as the body language expressed by your interviewee or anything else that may not come across on your recording when playing it back at a later date. For example if the interviewee looked particularly nervous or agitated when answering a particular question. Don't forget to also note in some way what part of the interview the note refers to such as recording the counter on your dictaphone if it has one, or the last question that you asked. This will help when transcribing your data.
Don't forget to have spare batteries and tapes or memory ready for your dictaphone during the interview.
It is important to remember that you will need to transcribe any interview that you record and sufficient time should be allowed for this process. As a guide, it would take an experienced audio typist 6 hours to transcribe 1 hour of interview recording!