Recording of telephone interviews

Our report below is old and outdated. If you are looking for current solutions for recording, you can find more up-to-date information from Kai Dröge.

And maybe after that our programs will support you in transcribing and evaluating:


Status 25.05.2015

Telephone interviews can be conveniently recorded with audio recorders or the computer. Here you will find an overview of possible solutions:

Telephone interview recording solutions

Telephone interviews are an important and cost-effective way of collecting data. Technically, the task is to record both interviewees in acceptable quality. However, the recordings will always be inferior to a face-to-face interview and the use of a recording device. In the following, we will show you which solutions are recommended for this. Read and listen for yourself!

Phone adapter for easy recording

With the small LRX-35 telephone recording adapter, telephone calls can be recorded without any problems. The prerequisite is that the handset cable is connected to your telephone via a plug. Disconnect the plug, insert the adapter and finally plug the jack plug of the adapter into the microphone input of your recording device (e.g. Olympus or MiniDisc). Now you can immediately record all conversations (does not work with a wireless DECT phone).

Alternatively, the adapter can also be connected to the microphone input of your computer. There you can record the phone calls via software. For example, the free programs Audacity, No23 Recorder or RecOnPhone are recommended. A noise filter ensures good quality even in quiet passages. With this technical solution, the adapter also sits between the handset and the telephone set. When recording with a computer, basic knowledge of the system control may be required to set an optimal recording level.

Audio sample of the LRX-35 (with Olympus WS-300) (Download)

Upgrade from June 2014: Now also with USB connection for recording on computer

Interview set “Telephone

As an interview set “telephone” we recommend a cost-effective solution. In addition to the LRX-35 telephone adapter, a digital telephone recording device is required.

The Olympus WS-712PC is suitable for this purpose, which can also be used “solo” as a simple recording device for individual interviews. As a test recording, you can hear a short telephone recording with this set, connected to a Siemens Gigaset SX353.

Audio sample Olympus recorder + LRX-35 (Download)

Phone adapter for any phones

Another alternative is the phone adapter (ear plug) manufactured by Olympus, which we do not necessarily recommend due to the uncomfortable handling. However, the type of phone used does not matter when recording, since the adapter is inserted into the ear when making a call – just like a small headset. This allows you to record all phone calls, whether from a mobile, cordless or wired phone. Due to its placement in the ear, the adapter is rather uncomfortable and, for hygienic reasons, less suitable for use by several people (e.g., in a rental or media center); however, it can be used on any telephone.

Skype telephone interview recording software

Phone calls can be made with the freeware program Skype (Mac+PC), which can be used to call landline numbers (about 1.7 ct/min.) as well as other Skype users. A suitable recording program then makes it easy and convenient to record telephone interviews on the computer. In any case, test the functionality thoroughly before conducting a telephone interview. (If you want to conduct and record a telephone interview with the normal telephone, we offer here a for it right solution an).

You will need:

  1. Skype phone software
  2. Recording software for PC or Mac

Skype phone software

With the free program Skype you can make calls from your computer to landlines or to other computers that have Skype installed. The software is free and easy to use. All you need is a computer with an Internet connection. For calls to landlines you need to buy a credit account, currently charged 1.7 ct/ min. for calls to Western Europe, USA and Canada. Calls to other Skype users are always free of charge. The sound quality is acceptable to good even with an analog Internet connection. Even a conference call with up to five people is possible.

  1. Install Skype.
  2. Register a user account for yourself.
  3. Test Skype with another computer user who also has Skype installed. You may want to buy credit to call landlines.

Recording software for Mac

  1. Load WireTap PRO and install the program. The shareware version can be tested as often as you like, but it generates five seconds of wire-tap announcement at the beginning of each recording. So keep this in mind during your tests. Our experience shows that very good results can still be achieved. (The full version is available for about $19).
  2. Start WireTap for testing and make the following settings:
    1. In the FILE menu, select the entry “Mac Audio & Microphone”.
    2. In the WIRETAP PRO menu, select “Preferences” and in the window that opens, set the FORMAT to MP3 (44.100kHz, stereo, 16bit) and specify the location where the recording is to be saved under SAVING.
  3.  Start the recording by clicking the red button on the left side.
  4. Start a phone call with Skype.
  5. End phone call with Skype.
  6. End WireTap with the STOP button. The conversation is then saved as an MP3 file in the previously specified storage location.

The recording software Call Recorder for Mac allows to record both, calls via Skype and video conferences. ($14.90, Demo available)

More alternatives

Variant for users of an ISDN connection

With the free program “Phoner” you can make calls from your PC via your normal ISDN connection. These calls are billed as usual via your telephone bill. The same charges apply as when you make calls from your ISDN telephone. An ISDN modem connected to the telephone line is required.

Telephone Interviews Literature

  1. Lisa A. Burke & Monica K. Miller Telephone interviews as a data collection strategy – experiences and recommendations. Contribution on the use of telephone interviews as a data collection strategy, suitable especially for beginners. With practical hints. Available in English language.
  2. Frey, J.H./Kunz, G./Lüschen, G. (1999):Telephone surveys in social research. Methods, techniques, survey practice. Opladen. Extensive notes on the preparation of telephone interviews, e.g. role play with different interview situations, notes on sample selection, etc.
  3. For more information on CATI, CAPI and PDA software, please visit the website of ZUMA (Central Archive for Empirical Social Research in Cologne).
    Your cart is emptyBack to the shop
      Calculate Shipping