Recruiting quality TypeWell Transcribers

Recruiting qualified transcribers can be challenging. In addition to the traits you look for when hiring for a standard job—reliability, punctuality, ethics, dedication—a TypeWell transcriber must possess a certain set of technical skills specific to real-time transcribing. The transcriber must be able to attain high typing speeds with a low rate of errors in order to even qualify for the TypeWell basic training course. Transcribing in a variety of college classrooms requires a certain level of English spelling and grammar skills that a person develops over a lifetime. In this post, we discuss some methods of recruiting and training the best TypeWell transcribers.

First, let’s talk about what makes a good transcriber. A good transcriber has the organizational qualities of a clerk or administrative assistant. A transcriber is expected to organize speech into content based paragraphs of appropriate length and highlight important sentences on the fly. They should keep a calendar up to date, follow it religiously, and have some flexibility with their schedule. A transcriber should be able to adapt to new situations and be comfortable with rapidly-changing circumstances.

A transcriber should be tech savvy. Being comfortable communicating via email, phone, text, Skype, and other means is essential so that changes can be dealt with immediately. Transcribers should be familiar with their transcribing hardware and software so they’re ready to troubleshoot issues as they arise.

Transcribing is similar to interpreting in many respects. A transcriber is a conduit that receives information in one format (speech) and outputs in another (text).  Their mind must be able to quickly switch “modes”.  The transcriber will not be directly supervised in their daily activities, so they should be self-sufficient and proactive.

A majority of their working hours will be spent writing, making the best transcribers those who have an extraordinary grasp of the English language.  This includes spelling, grammar, and syntax.  It can also include more abstract writing concepts like structure, style, and tone.

So, where do you find the best transcribers?  Our experience has been that local college websites and campuses are excellent resources.  An advantage of recruiting in college communities is that most of the potential hires have decent writing skills and have a base knowledge level in an array of subjects. Also, college students from this generation have grown up around technology, so most (if not all) have the basic technical skills necessary to be a transcriber. Many colleges and universities have job boards or websites that you can post to with permission from the appropriate administrators.

Once the emails start coming in, it’s time to prune away the obviously underqualified.  We don’t require our transcribers to have any experience with transcribing, but a history of jobs requiring good writing skills is a plus. In any case, scrutinize their correspondence with you and decide ahead of time how many typographical errors you’ll accept. We usually allow a maximum of one typographical error to move on to the next step, as any more demonstrates a lack of attention to detail.  Also look for proper grammar, syntax, and formatting skills.

If the candidate’s writing is strong, write back to establish a rapport with them.  This will give you a feel for how attentive they are with emails and give you a rough understanding of their administrative turnaround time.  You are trying to gauge how well they would respond to direction if, for example, a class that they were scheduled to transcribe was cancelled and you sent them a text or email telling them to go to another assignment instead.  Would they get the message in time?  Since you will not be physically present to supervise their transcribing assignments, they should have strong communication skills and be able to take direction via remote tools like email, text, phone, etc.  Their email etiquette is a great opportunity to get a feel for that.

If you’ve completed these steps and your potential transcriber still seems like a good fit, you can direct them to the TypeWell application. There, the candidate will take a short test to see if their typing and listening skills are solid enough to move into the TypeWell basic skills course.   Encourage your candidate to practice their typing skills, listening skills, and ensure they are in a room without distractions prior to taking the application, as it will require their full attention.

If your candidate passes the application, they will then move on to the TypeWell Basic Skills Course. The course will take anywhere from one month to three months, depending on the pace of the candidate. It’s important not to rush your candidate through the course, as many of the lessons require ample time to practice and digest.  Once your candidate passes the TypeWell Basic Skills Course, they’re ready to begin transcribing in the classroom!

We hope that this has given you some helpful tips on recruiting quality TypeWell transcribers. As mentioned, it’s important to ensure your potential TypeWell transcriber is reliable, organized, tech savvy, self-sufficient, good at communicating, and highly skilled with the English language. This, combined with tests and training through TypeWell, will result in a team of quality TypeWell transcribers at your institution.