I’ve had to interview numerous people in my life whether it’s for professional purposes, schoolwork, or my own edification, and I have had to transcribe each and every one of those interviews.
It makes me sad just thinking about it.
“Transcribing an interview” means listening to an interview and writing down word for word what was said. It doesn’t sound so bad when it’s said like that, except it’s horrible for my mental state. There are numerous thoughts traveling through my head during interviews.
- How long is the interview?
- What’s the sound quality? Will I be able to understand what they’re saying?
- What about the person’s accent? Can I understand the accent? Oh God, what if I can’t understand the accent? Oh God, oh God, oh God.”
- Why did I ask that question?
- That was a stupid question.
- Do I really sound like that?
- Have I always had a lisp?
- Why am I slurring my words?
All of these things have gone through my head either before, during, or after the interview and its subsequent transcribing. There have been times when one of these has come up, and I have to listen to the interview over and over, whether it’s to desensitize myself to how dumb I think I sound or to get used to the interviewee’s accent or the way they talk. But then, there’s the act of transcribing. You have no idea how tedious this task is. I find myself wishing - hoping - beforehand for the person I’m about to interview to speak slowly, clearly, and to answer questions within a small period of time, like, five to ten minutes. It could totally happen.
It never does. I interview the person and then I have a fantastic interview I have to transcribe (all of it [EVERY SINGLE WORD]) only to edit it down to 750 words from the 1500 words it initially was. Once, I had an interview clock in at 2500 words. Word limit? 950.
There’s one shining glimmer of pride in transcribing the interview. Scratch that, there’s two.
1. When I finish, I feel damn proud of myself. I compare it to how I feel when I wake up refreshed despite only getting one hour of sleep. I kind of feel like a superhero.
2. There’s usually a damn good interview at the end of the day, and as it turns out, all of those evil thoughts ended up being nothing more than exaggerations, all of it in my head. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside to know I did a halfway decent job at, well, my job. I feel all the feels.
So just remember children, while transcribing interviews can be tedious and take a long time, in the end there are rewards in the form of finishing and in the form of realizing you got to know a little more about a person you didn’t know before.