Friday, July 12, 2024

How To Conduct User Interviews

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How To Nail User Interviews In A Ux Hcd Or Design Thinking Process

How To Conduct User Interviews Like A Pro (UX Design)

Great! Youve got your design brief, areas of interest you want to look into, and some user interviews lined up. But whats next?


This article provides you with hands-on advice on why and how to conduct user interviews in your UX process.

Some of the recommendations you are going to read might seem trivial and obvious but neglecting only one of them can ruin your entire interview. Trust me, been there, done that?

Ask Interviewees About Specific Moments In The Past

When interviewees recall specific moments in the past, the answers become less generic and more accurate. Sometimes users will give you use cases that youve never thought about.


  • What would you do in situation X?
  • Would you perform this action in real life?
  • Can you give me a few examples of real situations when you would do this?

Example 1:

From: Tell me what you feel when shopping online.

To: Tell me what you felt the last time you shopped online.

The first question asks about experience in general. The second question gives respondents a specific context to hold on to when answering your question, which increases the chances of getting genuine, insightful data.

Example 2:

From: What do you consider as a negative online shopping experience?

To: Tell me what went through your head the last time you tried to buy something online and the purchase failed.

Similar to the previous example, the second question is a context-based question asked about specific experience.

How To Find Users To Interview

Theres a multibillion-dollar market research industry loaded with for-fee tools, services, and consultancies. But if youre on a startup budget, dont worry. There are lots of ways to recruit users for interviews for little or no cost. Here are a few examples:

  • People who are conference speakers and panelists are often very interested in connecting with others in the industry . So why not reach out with a nice, personalized email and see if theyll talk to you?
  • Press releases from companies in your space can also be a place to source names of people who might be open to becoming research subjects. If your competitor quotes a VP of Engineering in a press release, and you hypothesize that a VP of Engineering is a potential buyer of your product, this person could be a great interview subject.
  • Reaching out via social media is always a solid option.
  • You can set up a dedicated page on your site for potential participants to opt in and sign up, just like our Research at DigitalOcean page.

If your audience is very broad maybe your product is a social media app or a photo sharing service and you have a modest research budget available, then tools like or are easy ways to find participants. is another useful tool for targeting actual site visitors.

Once you source users, you then need to get prospects to actually agree to your request.

Theres no one way to do this, but we kept these in mind when writing emails:

Read Also: Questions To Ask Cfo During Interview

Dont Express Your Own Opinion

Make sure you control your reactions, even when you receive negative feedback about your product. People will criticize your product. Thats pretty normal. But if they sense you are being defensive about the feedback theyre giving, theyll stop giving you honest answers and this can defeat the purpose of interviewing them in the first place.

How To Create An Interview Guide With Your Team:

How to conduct an awesome user interview
  • Brainstorm the questions you would like to ask.
  • Organise your questions into three categories:
  • Broad questions introduce the topic to the interviewee on a general scale e.g. What does a typical day look like?, When do you use our service?
  • Specific questions are used to understand the individuals interaction with your service. Asking for anecdotes is a great way to receive more personal feedback e.g. Can you tell me about the last time you used our service?
  • Probe questions are the main source of knowing your users motivations and frustrations. They usually start with why. e.g. Why was this particular experience positive/ frustrating? Ask why as many times as needed until you get to the root of the cause.
  • Refine the questions youve brainstormed. Make sure your questions are neutral and do not suggest an opinion. The question should allow the interviewee to discuss their personal experiences. Consolidate your list and remove any repeating questions.
  • Write a brief introduction for the interview. This will be used at the beginning of the interview to allow the user to clearly know:
  • the purpose of the interview
  • how their information will be collected
  • how you will be recording the interview.
  • Don’t Miss: System Design Interview Prep

    Keep An Eye On The Clock

    User interviews should last a maximum of 60 minutes. Any longer and youll both lose focus and get frustrated.

    Tip: Dont be afraid to say Thanks! Do you mind if we move on? You can always circle back on a question at the end if you feel like there was more to say or that you needed clarification.

    Run Through Hypothetical Scenarios

    Close out the interview by running through hypothetical scenarios with your user, or by running through wireframes and prototypes. Now is the time to see whether their behavior is the same as their stated thought process.

    Many times, interviewees will believe that they make decisions a particular way, but they actually behave in an entirely different way. By running through concrete scenarios, youll be able to see their thought process live.

    When you see a contradiction in live behavior versus stated thought process, gently ask your interviewee how they made their decision, and why they made it in a different way than they said they would have.

    Remember, your ultimate goal is to ensure that you can fully reproduce the way that your interviewee makes decisions in the real world.

    Another fantastic exercise to run here is to ask your interviewee to select between competitors, or to evaluate different value propositions against one another.

    For example, I might ask my interviewee to rank Instacart vs. Blue Apron vs. Uber Eats vs. doing their own grocery shopping. By understanding what they like and what they dont like about competitors and replacements, I can further hone the product to better satisfy that particular customer segment.

    Once youve completed this exercise, thank your interviewee for their time and close out the interview.

    Also Check: Cfo Interview

    Never Mention Other Users

    This is another way to prejudice answers from users. Never mention how other users find using your product.

    Here is an example: A lot of people say its easy to use this search engine. Do you agree?

    Youve just told them that a lot of people find this easy to use. Basically, you are asking, are you smart like these other people or are you dumb and unable to figure this out? Of course a person is going to respond that they agree!

    Instead, ask a simple, stark question like this: Describe your experience with this search engine.

    Notice how this question is also open ended and can go in a lot of different directions. The version that mentions other users is a closed question that is basically a yes/no question.

    Choose A Structure: Semi

    How To Conduct User Interviews (UX Design)

    Once you have an idea about the most important questions, choose a structure. We wont discuss structured interviews here as they resemble surveys more than explorative interviews based on the approach introduced this far. So go for semi-structured or unstructured interviews.

    We recommend semi-structured user interviews, as leading and analyzing unstructured ones really take a lot of time and practice. Also, if you want to share the workload within a team, semi-structured interviews and such guides leave less room for misunderstanding.

    Wonderful, but what is a semi-structured interview? A semi-structured interview operates with a set of questions and a proposed order for them as defined in the user interview guide.

    The interviewer has to prepare and have the willingness to change these questions and add new ones if the interview situation requires. The interview guide serves as an invaluable asset in finding the golden path between an overly strict structure and an overly vague organization for the interview.

    A semi-structured interview guide leaves room to improvise and helps with tips on how to handle unexpected situations or directions of the talk. Remember what weve said about the nature and worth of interviews: You would not have expected some of the most important and interesting findings.

    Recommended Reading: Questions To Ask A Cfo During An Interview

    Determine Goals And Objectives

    Determining goals and objectives means setting clear research goals. Speak to a product owner or a stakeholder to uncover some more profound insights.

    Setting goals and objectives will lead you to:

    • understanding general attitudes towards dating
    • recognizing general attitudes towards dating apps
    • discovering other dating apps people are currently using
    • finding out about what features users desire in such dating apps

    Asking The Right Questions

    Always encourage them to speak freely and keep the atmosphere friendly.

    Asking the right questions is the most significant part in how to conduct user interviews. Prepare your questions before the user interview and choose your words carefully. The questions should be open, dialogue-provoking, and non-leading, instead of closed, vague, or leading.

    Closed questions

    What are closed questions, you may ask? Closed questions are simple questions with yes-or-no answers. So, instead of asking Have you ever think in terms of How do you feel about. If you must, use closed questions only to introduce the real question that dives deeper into your topic of interest. Use them to confirm an assumption before asking another question.

    Leading questions in conducting a user interview, which hint at the desired answer, are also a no-go practice because they can get you biased or even false answers. Ask the user to guide you through their approach to the process.

    Additionally, try to anticipate some answers and prepare follow-up questions to help the user elaborate their answer and disclose more insights. Your follow-up questions can look something along the lines of: Can you explain why?, Can you tell me more about? or How did that work for you?.

    Workspace before conducting a user interview

    Also Check: How To Prepare System Design Interview

    User Recruitment: You Can Do It

    Recruitment might be difficult. Luckily, tips and ideas abound on how to find respondents for your interviews. Here, we will only stress one very important detail that can separate a really insightful interview from average ones.

    Lets say you have already tried all the databases you might have. Keep GDPR in mind, though! You posted calls on social media, wrote ads, offered incentives and subscribed to platforms, asked friends and family and still have difficulty finding respondents.

    Again, some extremely difficult topics can make recruitment tough. Weve gone through that. Still, at this stage, you might want to go back quickly and check your UX research plan, topics and an interview guide. Even if you cant make systematic changes at this point, sooner make small adjustments to the plan than compromise requirements by recruiting somebody who does not really fit but seems almost OK.

    Where Do You Conduct A User Interview

    How to Conduct User Interviews

    The environment of the interview room can set the tone for the rest of the interview. If you were being interviewed, youd like to be in a comfortable, warm, and inviting environment that is semi-formal in appearance where you can relax.

    Whether the interview is in your office, in a rented space, in the users own environment, or in public, choosing the right environment can help you have a good user interview. Here are some considerations to remember when choosing your location:

    Is the space comfortable?

    Is there access to a toilet and heating? Can you spend an hour sitting comfortably? Can you provide a glass of water or tea as a refreshment?

    Is the location convenient for your target users?

    If your user is vulnerable or unable to commute to the interview location easily, this will delay the interview process and may prevent you from getting the information you need from your target audience.

    Is the location a brand-neutral zone?

    If your location shows favouritism to a particular brand or company, it can unconsciously bias the interviewee, who may feel more inclined to favour the brand in their answers also.

    If users are remotely being interviewed, consider whether technology would be a challenge for them and what the best communication method is for carrying out the interview.

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    Conduct The Interview To Understand The User Goals And Hurdles

    Gather information on your users feelings, motivations, and daily routines, or how they use your product, what products they use in conjunction with yours and even what competitors they use now or before. Some topics to think about:

    • Background information : Learn a little bit out about your customers personal vision and goals. Whats their inspiration?
    • Customer goals: What goals are they trying to reach by using your product? What have they achieved since using your product? Dig for specific metric, if possible.
    • Use cases for internal operations or workflows: How, with whom, in what context do they use the product? What is the primary objective for using your product?

    What Are The Five Steps Of Ux Research

    Created by Erin Sanders, the Research Learning Spiral provides five main steps for conducting UX research. The first two steps are about forming questions and hypotheses, and the last three steps are about gathering knowledge through selected UX research methods.

  • Objectives: What are the knowledge gaps we need to fill?
  • Hypotheses: What do we think we understand about our users?
  • Methods: Based on time and manpower, what methods should we select?
  • Conduct: Gather data through the selected methods.
  • Synthesize: Fill in the knowledge gaps, prove or disprove our hypotheses, and discover opportunities for our design efforts.
  • Read Also: Questions To Ask The Cfo In An Interview

    What To Avoid During Ux User Interviews

    Even though this is an interview, you want it to feel more like a conversation. Donât mention other users or what âmost peopleâ say or feel. Avoid assumptions of all types. And donât fake sincerityâusers can tell when youâre pretending to be empathetic to them. If you canât be genuine, you may want to have someone else ask the questions.

    Properly conducted UX user interviews can provide valuable perspective and can inform the best way to go about designing your product. Follow the above advice, and youâll find you have information that contributes to a more meaningful, delightful user experience.

    Take notes and conduct your own user interviews for UX in Lucidspark.

    The User Interview Session

    How To Conduct a User Interview

    If you were doing your user interviews in person before, a few tips can get you on the right track for translating them to a remote setup.

  • Send participants instructions ahead of time for the software to download and/or dial in information.
  • If you donât hear confirmation of joining from participant when you initially send instructions, send a reminder, and include that software/dial in information again. This will save you time and heartache! Product plug: you can easily do this through bulk messaging in User Interviews.
  • If youâre showing a prototype or doing a usability test, test the test first, with a colleague, or, at the very least, yourself. We talk about avoiding and reacting to interview disasters in this episode of Awkward Silences.
  • Be kind and patient, especially with folks who may be stressed during this time and/or unfamiliar with the tools youâre using to conduct your interviews. Here is some overall guidance on conducting a good interview.
  • Maintain eye contact. Get a notetaker or use transcription so you can focus on your participant.
  • Recommended Reading: What To Wear For An Interview Women

    Convert Your Recordings To Text

    To enable you to concentrate during your interviews rather than worry about taking notes all the time, you should use a voice recorder. With an automated audio-to-text converter, you can quickly transcribe your recordings and save your transcripts in whatever format you need. Converting your audio-to-text files also lets you easily add your own annotations to the files.

    Prepare For The Interview Session

    1. Select an interview location

    There are different locations where User interviews can be conducted, In-person at users site or in a controlled environment like a lab, or even remotely with the help of online-meeting tools like Zoom/WebEx

    However, you must consider certain factors before choosing locations:

    • Which location will be comfortable for users? Is the location near to they work/live?
    • Do you want to carry out interview in the usual Environment of User?
    • Do you want to carry out Interview in an environment which is out of their regular environment? So that they can think freely and creatively.

    It is important to note that if you deeply want to understand User behavior then In-person interview is preferable.

    In person user interview allows You to gain valuable insights by observing the User body language and by understanding their tone.

    Here, it is also important to understand that a user-interview is different from a Usability Testing method. A Usability testing is about learning is the design that is designed by UX designer is a Usable by the user or not. However, User interview is about leaning the User behavior with respect to the user goal.

    2. Recruiting Users

    The Users to be recruited for the User Interview should represent the target audience. Here, you can Use your User Persons in order to identlfy interview participants that match them.

    • Use Social media
    • Existing/old customers
    • Paid interviewees.

    3 Prepare a discussion guide

    Types of Interview questions

    Read Also: Best Interview Clothes For A Woman

    Consider The Time And The Resources

    No golden rule says how to plan these elements, as the difficulty of the topic and that of recruitment can influence this.

    Once you have everybody on the same page about interviewing, start developing a research plan and specifying the main questions to answer in connection with the topic.

    Calculate sufficient time for interviews, especially if you work in a bigger or remote team. Poorly prepared questions or dissimilar interviews can ruin your efforts.

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