As a writer for local/regional magazines, I do most of my interviews via phone.
I’m often writing for publications based a few counties away, so phone calls are the easiest interview option (especially for stories that pay, say, less than $100).
There are many benefits to recording interviews, which can help improve clarity and accuracy.
Recording calls keeps me mobile
Since I work a full-time day job in addition to freelancing, I’m not often available during business hours. This means I sometimes end up talking to sources for freelance articles in the car (don’t worry, I pull over!) or somewhere random outside of my daytime office.
In other words, places that aren’t very conducive to note taking. So, it’s super helpful when I can record my interviews.
I don’t have to keep all the details in my head
Do you ever half remember a part of an interview where your source talked about something specific, but you can’t remember exactly what he/she said?
“I know so-and-so said their son was in school, but I forget where…”
This happens to me pretty much daily. With a recorded call, I can simply rewind to the part of the interview where my source divulged that detail.
Recording calls can greatly improve your accuracy and, by default improve your productivity.
It’s easy to save and share interviews
Using a call recording app is simple too. The app houses all my current interviews on my phone.
If I want to listen to one, I can listen straight from the app, or I can email the call to myself (or upload to my Google Drive) to store and listen elsewhere. The apps I’ve used all have a number of ways to share interviews with yourself or collaborators.
Here are three of the best apps I’ve found for recording phone calls.
(Note: I use a Nexus 5, so all of these apps are available via the Google Play store.)
Simple name, simple app. This is the app I’m currently using. So far, I’ve like it the best.
It syncs your phone calls automatically to your cloud storage. My recorded calls end up as tracks in my Google Play Music library. One downside I’ve noticed is this app sometimes creates a bit of static during the call. It turns up the volume when you receive a call so your interviewee’s voice can be easily heard and recorded.
My advice: Try it with a friend to see if it creates any static for you.
Also, I’m trying the free version, which has ads, but they don’t bother me. The Pro version, which costs $6.99 in the Google Play store, allows you to “set calls from particular contacts to be saved, and they will be saved in the cloud.”
That’s a function I don’t really need.
This app has much of the same functionality as the app above. It offers several different recording formats.
The Pro version, available for $1.49, offers integration with Dropbox, Google Drive and several other storage apps. The sound quality is good and there is no static that I noticed.
I tried it for a bit and moved on to Automatic Call Recorder by Appliqato just because I wanted to see if the grass was greener. It wasn’t necessarily, but I stayed out of basic inertia.
This is another basic call recording app. Again, I left it just to explore other options, but I liked it pretty much the same.
It has one unique option in its passcode feature. You can passcode your account and therefore your recorded conversations. I see some of the reviews on the Google Play Store report glitches (e.g. the app not recording, or dropping a record, or not being able to hear the other person’s voice very well), but I didn’t have any trouble.
This is just a selection of the many recording apps available via the Google Play store. Each has different features and ratings. I recommend assessing your needs as an interviewer and deciding which features are most important, then trying a few to which you like best. If you use an iPhone, or other Apple device, check out the App Store for comparable apps.
A reminder: Always let your interview subject know that they’re being recorded. That’s ethical and also, you know, nice.
What apps do you use for recording phone calls? Or do you go the pen-and-paper route?