Home Article How To Conduct An Effective User Interview?

How To Conduct An Effective User Interview?


A user interview is one of the common practices to determine product requirements. However, it can be very misleading if you do it wrong. The main goal of a user interview is to understand the pains, challenges, and motivations of users to some extent. Here, I want to share some practical tips on how to conduct an effective user interview?

Users usually do not know exactly what they want and can rarely articulate what they really need. Therefore, you must not ask direct questions to gather requirements. You have to observe their behavior, understand unmet needs and use that insight to drive requirements. In this article, I share several tips to prepare and execute an effective user interview.  

How To Prepare For A User Interview?

First, you have to clearly determine the unknowns that you want to explore. It would be a waste of time if you do not know what you exactly search for. Then, you must create a list of non-leading questions addressing the unknowns. You can find a sample of leading and non-leading questions below. 

  • Leading: “How often do you use Snapchat?”
  • Non-leading: “Do you use instant messaging?”

Note that you must not ask leading questions in the interview session. That will bias the interviewee and significantly devalue the results of the interview session. Then, you have to select 5 questions out of the list. To not exceed the 5 questions surprisingly will increase the quality of your questions.  

Related Link- 5 Steps to Create Good User Interview Questions

Do not ask the users what they want. Figure out what they need. Click To Tweet

How To Execute A User Interview?

To execute an effective user interview, you have to run a friendly conversation with the interviewee in a relaxed unbiased environment (e.g., a coffee shop). You should start the session by explaining the main purpose of the interview, i.e., “what are you trying to achieve?”. However, you should not directly share questions. I share several tips to execute an effective user interview session below.

  • Try to have a smooth, short, and curios conversation
  • Ask short questions, and let them talk
  • Don’t interrupt, just listen. Minimize interpretation.
  • Ask questions in the middle of your conversation.

In the end, ask the interviewee to add anything (literally anything!). It is the user’s time now. You can not predict everything, so you should create an opportunity to hear unexpected thoughts and ideas. 

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