Essential Tools for Interviews (part 2 of 4)

When I started doing interviews, I used a small, standard cassette recorder instead of a dictation machine type that used micro-cassettes because the tapes were easier to find, less expensive, and easier to transcribe. I also invested in a standard-sized playback machine for transcriptions.

I can still use that equipment in a pinch, but I’m thankful for new technology, because with a digital recorder I can download the files directly to my computer and do my transcribing without another separate dedicated machine.

If you’re new to digital recorders, some things to consider:


Some digital recorders do not connect to your computer. If you opt for a self-contained recorder, get one with enough memory to keep your files for as long you need them. Such recorders usually do not use removable memory cards. Consider a unit with a folder and indexing system to help you find recordings easily.


Most digital recorders connect to your computer through a standard USB port. But be sure it works with your computer. My first digital recorder required software that didn’t work with my Mac. I prefer a recorder with a drop-and-drag feature that doesn’t depend on specific software.

Also consider the kinds of files the recorder saves. Look for a format you can listen to not only on your computer, but also with a portable MP3 player.


How sensitive is the recorder’s microphone? Test it before your first interview. Ideally, you want a recorder with a microphone jack. Using an inexpensive Y-clip, you can use two lapel mics at a time, clipping one to you and one to your subject to give you the best fidelity for transcribing. The ability to use an external mic also helps if you are doing a phone interview.


An MP3 player with recording capabilities is usually very small — only about 3 inches — so it’s easy to keep handy for impromptu interviews. But these don’t usually have a mic jack. You’ll need to place the unit near your subject.

Jeanette Gardner Littleton, a CWG mentor, writes and edits from her home in Kansas City. Besides writing and editing, she enjoys trying to keep houseplants and tropical plants alive.


About CWG:

For more than forty years, the Christian Writers Guild has trained people to achieve their goals in writing for publication.

Explore  to learn more about our:

● writing courses

● critique service

● webinars

● Writing for the Soul conference

● Operation First Novel contest for unpublished fiction writers.

Also, consider Christian Writers Guild Publishing for your book. Our unique service combines:

● quality education

● mentored guidance

● professional production

Finish the course — and we’ll publish your book.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *