Telephone Interviews

Telephone interviews are a popular and relatively inexpensive way of gathering data. The technology used for such interviews must be capable of making acceptable quality recordings of both interviewer and interviewee. However, such recordings always have an inferior sound quality to recordings of face-to-face interviews or recordings made using a voice recorder. Our tests have revealed that two feasable options are available for making recordings over the telephone:

Recording telephone interviews using an adapter
Conducting a telephone conversation in the usual way but recording the conversation using a telephone adapter and a recorder or computer.

Conducting and recording telephone interviews using a PC or MAC
Making telephone calls and recording conversations directly on a PC or MAC.

Simple telephone recording with adapter LRX35

An adapter allows you to conduct and interview people via telephone in the conventional way. You just need a telephone with wired headset. The adapter is simply inserted between your telephone and its headset. Now insert the jack plug on the adapter into the microphone socket of your recorder (e.g. Olympus or MiniDisc) and you can immediately pick up all conversations. Alternatively you can attach an adapter to the microphone socket of a computer or laptop and record directly onto that. Our complete packages "science" and "pro" include adapters for recording in conjunction with a voice recorder.

You can acquire a telephone adapter for recording with digital and analogue equipment or PC as a separate item for €48.


Phone Interviewing as a Means of Data Collection: Lessons Learned and Practical Recommendations
Lisa A. Burke & Monica K. Miller 

Conducting telephone interviews with any type of telephone

A telephone adapter developed by Olympus (earphone) allows you to make recordings whatever type of telephone you are using. The device is inserted into the ear for the duration of the telephone call and can thus pick up all conversations conducted via a mobile, cordless or non-cordless phone. Since the adapter is placed in the ear it is not suitable for use by more than one person for reasons of hygiene - so it can not be offered for hire or made available in a media library - but it can be used for any type of telephone.

Conducting and recording telephone interviews on PC or MAC

The Skype freeware for MAC and PC lets you call fixed line network numbers (1.7 cents per minute) and other Skype users. You can then use recording software to easily and conveniently record telephone interviews onto your computer. We strongly recommend testing the functions thoroughly before conducting an actual interview.

You will need:
1. Skype telephone software
2. Recording software for your PC or MAC

Skype telephone sofware

Skype lets you call fixed line numbers or other computers which also have Skype installed from your computer. It is free and easy to use. All you need is a computer with an internet connection. In order to call fixed line numbers you must set up a credit account. The price is currently 1.7 cents per minute for calls to western Europe, the United States and Canada. Calls to other Skype users are always free. Sound quality is acceptable to good, even with analogue internet connections. It is even possible to conduct conference calls of up to five people.

1. Install Skype.
2. Register and open a user account.
3. Test Skype with somebody else who has Skype installed on their computer.
3a. You may wish to set up a credit account for calls to fixed line numbers.
4. Load the recording software and open it. Run a test recording of a conversation.
5. Start recording before you start your telephone conversation. Don't stop recording until you have finished.
6. The telephone conversation you have recorded should now be saved in MP3 format at the location you stipulated.

PC recording software: Power Gramo

Power Gramo recording software (www. ) was specially developed by Skype for recording telephone conversations. This free software lets you record conversations conducted via the Skype telephoning software in .ogg or .wav format.

How to use it:

1. Download and install Power Gramo.
2. Open Skype and then Power Gramo. The first time you open the programmes you must authorize Power Gramo to access Skype. To do this select "Allow this program to use Skype" from the first window.
3. From now on the item "Power Gramo" will appear in your Skype menu and every telephone interview you conduct will be recorded. You can select your preferred format and location for saving data by going to "options" in the "Power Gramo" menu.
4. When you have finished your conversation a window will appear telling you that you can protect your recording via a password. If you do not require a password simply click on "Don't use password".
5. In your own programme window you have an overview of the conversations you have recorded. Of course, you always have the option of accessing and listening to the data within another program, such as the transcription program f4

To test the program you can call the Skype test service free of charge. To do this enter "echo123" in the Skype address bar. You will hear a brief message and then have the opportunity to record and listen to a short sample. This way you can see whether or not your recording works.

Recording software for MAC

1. Download and install WireTap PRO . The shareware version can be tested as often as you like, but every recording will start with a five-second WireTap message, which must be borne in mind when conducting tests. However, in our experience the program has achieved impressive results. (The full version is available for $19).
2. Start WireTap for a test and choose the following settings:
2a. Select "Mac Audio & Microphone" in the FILE menu
2b. Go to "Preferences" in the WIRETAP PRO menu and select "mp3" under FORMAT in the window which appears (44.100kHz, stereo, 16bit); under SAVING you should choose the location for saving your recordings
3. Start recording by clicking on the red button on the left-hand side
4. Start your telephone conversation with Skype
5. Complete the conversation
6. Stop WireTap by clicking on the STOP button, the conversation will then be saved in your chosen location as an MP3 file


Good adapters for telephone recording starting from 48 €.

Contact us:

dr. dresing & pehl GmbH
Deutschhausstraße 22a
35037 Marburg

Monday - Friday
9am - 5pm (CET)

Tel: +49 (0)6421 / 590 979 0
Fax: +49 (0)6421 / 590 979 20

Good partners:

From interview to analysis: MAXQDA and Audiotranscription.