User interview is one of the most common methods to determine the product requirements. However, it can be very misleading if you do it wrong. The golden rule is: “Do not ask users what they want. Figure out what they need”. So, don’t gather requirements, understand unmet needs and use that insight to drive requirements.
You can interview current customers, ask them what their requirements are, and make sure to capture them. But so what?! Product is NOT a project. Plus, customers usually do not know exactly what they want and can rarely articulate what they really need. So you should observe and sample their behavior.
Here, I share several tips to have an effective user interview.
Clearly determine what unknowns you want to explore. It would be meaningless if you do not know what you are looking for. Don’t share them with the interviewee but share the main purpose of the interview with him/her.
Write 5 non-leading questions to clarify your unknowns. Limit yourself to 5 questions. It will increase the quality of your questions surprisingly. Ensure asking questions in the middle of your conversation. I found this article useful.
- Leading: “How often do you use Snapchat?”
- Non-leading: “Do you use instant messaging?”
Conduct a friendly conversation in a relaxed situation. Begin by explaining the purpose of the interview – what are you trying to achieve? Run it in a friendly environment. This is not an interview!
Have a smooth, short, and curious conversation with a user. Ask short questions, and let him/her talk. Don’t interrupt, just listen. Don’t negotiate. Minimize interpretation.
In the end, ask a user to add anything (literally anything!) that he/she wants. It is the user’s time now!