THE INITIAL CONTACT WITH A REPORTER
What are some of the more frequently asked questions and info that
potential clients ask for when interviewing you for a job?
The hardest question I was ever asked was, "How would you punctuate this
sentence?" Talk about being put on the spot! Fortunately, I gave the
she wanted to hear, and she sent me work, but seems to me it could have just
as easily gone the other way.
Basically I'm asked what I charge per page, how long I've been scoping,
what my turnaround rate is. I don't think I've ever been asked anything
more technical than that!!
Okay...you asked --
First of all, nobody's ever "interviewed" me. They've just e-mailed me and
said, "What is your rate?" I told them (and it's not cheap) and they asked
if I had time to do such-and-such. Then they've sent the transcripts and
voila! CR/Scopist relationship. (Except for that first one...but we don't
want to talk about that!)
Just be honest with them. If you're new, you're new. Tell them you're new.
Tell them your positive qualifications (i.e., 20 years "other" transcription
experience, computer experience, former English teacher, former CR school,
just graduated from scoping school, college degree(s), whatever, etc.) and
ask them to send a VERY short test transcript in order to see how well the
two of you will/would work together. Let them know that you're enthusiastic
and willing to learn. You wouldn't want to get caught up in a situation
where a reporter thinks you really know your stuff and then you have to look
like a dork because you can't do a good job. (Trust me...I did that...she
was the first one that we don't want to talk about!) Tell them that you'll
probably have to ask a lot of questions as you go along in order to put out
transcript that is up to their expectations. Ask them to be honest with
One more piece(s) of advice: Don't let them pick you. You pick them.
They're your customers, but you have to put up with their work day in and
out. Get the ones who can write clearly so that you can do more pages per
hour. Get the ones who get the easiest, most common assignments so that
there is not much out of the ordinary terminology, like an official in a
courtroom (family and/or divorce court, for example.) Don't go for a
reporter who does heavy medical and technical all the time or constant
just because you're afraid you won't get any work or you want to make more
expedites. You'll get burned out and you'll be miserable. Just my opinion.
:) GOOD LUCK!
I agree, honesty is essential. If
you don't know something, it's okay to admit it; but at the same time,
if you can express your interest (or "passion," as with some of us!) for
researching/learning, etc., sometimes that's even more important in the
I've been contacted, too, via email, but now and then they've phoned and
it does kind of seem like an interview. After a while, though, you'll
realize it's you who's doing the interviewing, not them.
I got put on the spot, too, once when a reporter called about me doing
proofreading for them. She said, "I need someone who knows the English
language real well. You know the difference between 'voracity' and
'veracity,' right?" I had actually just recently looked those words up
to make sure I used the right one, so I was able to say, "Oh yeah, sure
Some questions you should be prepared to answer might include:
- What do you charge?
- Do you charge extra for (fill in the blank)?
- Will you do dailies? expedites? videos?
- How long have you been scoping?
- Do you read steno?
- Where did you learn how to scope?
- Will you do voir dire?
- Can you explain to me how to send files via email?
- What the heck does "zipping" mean and why do I need to do it?
- Can you tell me how to look stuff up on the Internet?
Some things you should ask the reporter would include:
- How long have you been reporting?
- What CAT system are you on?
- How long have you been using a CAT system?
- How would you describe your writing - good, so-so? (The answer to
that will help you set your initial rate for that person.)
- Have you worked with a scopist before? If so, why are you looking for
a new scopist now?
- Are you good about putting job dictionary entries into your main
- Do you use tapes; and if so, what size/what speed? (And no, a scopist
shouldn't be expected to actually watch videotapes of depositions!)
- Will you send me a job that's already in final form so I can see your
If you don't know the significance or meaning of any of the above, now's
the time to find out so you are ready if they come up. :)
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