Interviewing Manner

Skill layer:
Interviewing Manner
While your interviewing manner emergences in conversation with others, it's ultimately the ability to attend to yourself, allowing space to be mindful and natural in how you interact. Working here first has secondary impacts on every other type of interaction you carry out.
How comfortable and confident am I interacting with others? Have I developed an effective style that works for me?
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Human focus:

Separate from how you run a user interview to get data is your "interviewing manner:" the style, poise, and calm you bring to this type of conversation, and how you deal with difficult or unexpected situations. It's the ability to step back and truly listen, to allow your open and honest curiousity help you connect with your interviewee. This isn't just applicable in user interviews: it's how you bring yourself to interviewing job candidates, interviewing stakeholders, gathering information in meetings, and making sense of new and unfamiliar areas you're exploring in conversation.

Your interviewing manner will share good characteristics with all good interviewers, points of healthy and effective technique, but your style will be your own. Eventually, your interview manner will encompass the arc and high-order architecture of how you approach interviews, and flow down through the details—the way you use silence, the sounds and affirmations you use, your techniques for absorbing the unexpected and finding a healthy path forward.

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Amplifies craft skills:

Last updated:
May 10, 2020 22:12


  • Of course we recommend Steve Portigal's book Interviewing Users as a great starting place for understanding both the technical and more human aspects of interviewing.
  • It's also crucial to pay attention to the interviewing style of others, understanding and absorbing what works, finding pieces or techniques for you work with. Listen to how interviewers in podcasts, television shows, and documentaries conduct themselves: how well does that help them open a meaningful line with the participant?
  • Moreso than studying any outside resource, it is a function of practice, attention, and reflection that will ultimately help you develop your interviewing manner. Run interviews, and review the recordings specifically to evaluate your own manner as the interviewer, how your interactions affect participants, and how participant interaction affects you.
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