A user interview is a foundational method for qualitative research. In-person or remote, you need to create a safe and comfortable environment for meaningful discussions with your participants, and guide a healthy and productive conversation.
Interviews may be stressful events for participants, or focus on personal and sensitive topics that can only be approached from a place of trust and understanding. A successful interview requires calm control of the situation and observers, and a straightforward and adaptable interviewing style. While you may feel nervous or uncomfortable about conducting interviews, your participants always have less certainty and understanding of the situation than you do, so it’s crucial you can frame and guide the session with a gentle confidence throughout.
Consider the arc of the interview ahead of time, and imagine how it might unfold. Ensure you and team are prepared for the likely range of scenarios, and have a sense of how to handle unexpected turns. Your preparedness for an interview, and the manner in which you conduct it, are driving factors in quality of data gathered.
Therefore, conduct user interviews professionally, valuing both the participants time and your own. Introduce all team members who are a part of the interview, and clearly reiterate expectations for the interview and your purpose for conducting the session—clarity of intent is a crucial first step to building participant trust. Conduct the interview in an open-ended, conversational manner, and maintain a healthy balance between achieving your learning goals and the space to deeply listen to participants’ stories. Capture data thoroughly and sparingly. Close the interview by providing reassurance that participants can contact you at any time if they have questions, and set clear expectations for any follow-up that may be required.
Ensure stakeholders are prepared for the role they will play on an interview team, and are prepared to prioritize safety of all involved and ethical treatment of participant data throughout the process.
Throughout the interview, ensure healthy Data Capture the participant is comfortable with. After the interview, immediately run Interview Debrief to consolidate your impressions, and take time to maintain project hygiene with Well-Managed Data. With recordings, plan ahead for appropriate Video Analysis.