Take your time
Unless the interviewee is pressed for time, do not run right out after an interview. Once the recorder is turned off, there is always time to say thank you, to chat about the process you have just undergone together, and often to hear the best stories or most important data the interviewee has said during your entire meeting.
That's why it is a good idea not to put the machine away at once; you can always turn it on again (with the interviewee's permission) to get one more story down. For digital audio recorders, consider putting the recorder on pause rather than a full stop at the end of the interview. Then, if you have permission to put a final story on the record, you will be adding it into the same audio file.
Be sure that the interviewee signs the copyright release, or that you both understand clearly what the interviewee wants to do (hear the recording or edit the transcript, for example) before signing it. If you intend to submit your interviews to an established archive, use its forms and know what information the archive will need to accompany the interview when you deposit it. Be sure the interviewee knows where the interview will be deposited and who will have access to it, ensuring that this arrangement is acceptable to both the interviewee and the archive. If you intend to keep the materials yourself, have a plan for what will happen to the interviews after your death, and be sure the interviewee is aware of that plan as well.
It is very important to label recordings completely and carefully. In digital terms, that means creating good identifying data for the digital files stored on your computer, such as a file name that is the interviewee's full name and the date of the interview. Having a good file naming system and applying it consistently will save time when you are looking for a particular interview later. Have a plan for secure storage of the files if you plan to keep them long-term.
Collateral materials are documents, photos, or material artifacts that accompany or supplement an interview. If these materials are loaned to you, be sure to copy or scan them, and return them promptly. If they are given to you to keep or to pass on to an archive, be sure to label them as carefully as the recordings and to store them with whatever explanatory notes may be needed to explain the significance of the artifact and to easily link it back to the appropriate interview recording.
Transcription can be full, partial, or indexed with a list of keywords or short descriptions accompanied by times to approximate their location in the interview. Choose the transcription format that best suits your needs. Archives prefer verbatim transcripts, of course; a transcript is easier to use than an audio recording. Be aware it can take four to five hours to do a verbatim transcript of one hour of an audio recording. While there are voice recognition software programs that can provide a first draft of your digital files, the files will still require you to listen to and correct that first draft. If you are submitting your interviews to an archive, find out their stylistic requirements for transcripts. Be sure that whatever style you use, you begin by putting the names of all participants and the date of the interview, and throughout the transcript, you distinguish the speakers from each other (for example, our center uses the initials of the last names to identify speakers). Number the pages of your transcript and use a header with the last name of the interviewee on each page.
Send a thank-you note to your interviewee. If any special arrangements were made between you — for example, for copies of the interview, a follow-up interview, or a copy of the final product(s) — reiterate these promises in the note and follow up on your promises.