To conduct good interviews, it’s important to know how to get it started and how to get as much information as you can from the users. You can learn about their interactions with the product but more importantly, you can learn more about the users themselves.
The Set Up
As a interviewer, you want to set up the stage. You want to introduce yourself and make sure that the user being interviewed, will be comfortable taking the time to talk. Tell your interviewee what the goal of the conversation is without influencing their choices. Make sure they understand how the information they give them will be used and shared.
Before you close up the introduction, ask them if they have any questions about the interview and reassure them that any questions that they have later, will eventually be addressed. Let them know you are open to answering their queries. Last but not least, obtain their explicit permission to record the conversation so that you can reference the interview again in the future, if need be.
Start off with questions that allow you to understand their demographic information. This could be used as small talk to set up for bigger questions that you will ask later.
The Bulk of the Interview
The goal of this part is to gain as much information you can about the user’s behavior, their frustrations, and their thoughts. Ask them open-ended questions that prompt them to think and talk. Questions that allow them to answer more than a “yes” or “no” will allow you to gain more information that you might not have gotten if they only gave you either of those two answers.
Don’t ask leading questions because it may lead to biased or false answers. Leading questions are questions that implant a certain idea or thought inside a person’s head which might have never appeared to them in the first place. For example, asking, “What do you think of this top navigation bar?” When the interviewee might have thought it was just a non-interactable header for the page. There are cases where feeding users clues about the interface have lead to inaccurate feedback that might not have truly reflected the user’s thought process.
Consider asking follow-up questions such as “Tell me more about that,” or “What made you say that? And why?” Prompt them to tell you more and their reasons for their behavior. Understand them more.
As the interviewer, listening is the most important part in this section. Don’t think about filling in awkward silences or gaps in the conversations. You want to let the interviewee fill in the gaps, the goal is to get any information out of them, so the more time they have to think and realize something they never mentioned, the more you’ll get out of it.
Don’t zone in on recording answers, try to spot vague answers and opportunities to probe for more answers and information.
The End of the Interview
Let the interviewees know when you are done asking your questions. Always remember to ask them if they have any questions for you. After you answer all their questions, make sure to thank them for their time even if you have already thanked them in the beginning. Cover any next steps with them and be okay to shut down the interviews early if you feel like it has been unproductive. However, always remember to be courteous and respectful by thanking them for their time, even if it was unproductive.
Make sure to organize all recordings and answers for your next step, the analysis stage. Find reoccurring themes, behavior patterns, user needs, and mental models.