The UX Interview
Uncover treasures by listening with curiosity
One of the quickest way of understanding what your users are thinking is by just talking to them. This can be done through conducting interviews.
What is it?
An interview is a talk with someone to uncover answers to questions that you have. This person could be one of your (potential) users, but could also be a fellow colleague that has had a lot of contact with users. Examples of these people would be people from the sales department, product managers or product specialists. Be careful though as this can introduce a bias. You’ll get the most solid results from talking with real users.
Most of the time 1 hour will be enough for you to uncover some answers, and many people will be fine with giving you 1 hour of their time. An interview can be done in person or remotely (in a video call). It’s preferred to do an interview in person as this gives you more context to work with. But if time or budget is an issue, then a remote interview can be a great option.
When is it valuable?
- To quickly get answers to the burning questions that live in your company
- When your participant doesn’t have much time
- If there’s not enough budget to visit the participant, so you have to do it remotely
- When it’s done after an observation on location, though then this method would be better known as a contextual inquiry
- Bring someone along with you. This way the conversation keeps flowing even if one of you is taking some notes. It’s also valuable to be able to discuss the interview afterwards, as you might have interpreted some things differently.
- Take notes
- Bring some questions you would like to ask. Many times the conversation will flow naturally, but if not it’s nice to have a list of questions.
- Be genuinely curious about the person you’re interviewing
- Reassure the person that you’re just here to learn and they can’t say anything wrong
- Don’t take notes on your phone. It will feel to the other person as if you’re not interested and scrolling Instagram. Writing in a notebook doesn’t have this issue. Writing on a laptop is okay, but can be distracting or clumsy in some locations.
- Don’t be afraid to ask the stupid questions.
- Don’t stick strictly to your script. If something catches your interest, ask more in-depth questions.
- Don’t defend your product when it’s criticized. You’re not here to win an argument, you’re here to learn.
- Don’t assume that you know what they mean. If something is even slightly unclear, ask them to explain it more. You’ll be amazed how many times you think you understand something and it turns out they meant something completely different.
The goal of your research might be to have a better understanding of your user’s workflow through your application. You can then conduct interviews in the following way:
- Find participants (if you have a sales department, then they’re your best friends)
- Set up a call or visit. Make sure that they know how valuable their participation is and how it benefits them by having their voice heard.
- During the call, ask your questions. For example:
- Can you describe your workflow?
- What tools or software do you use?
- Do you use any workarounds? Finding a workaround is like striking gold.
4. When they say anything of interest, dig deeper until you really understand what they mean.
You can now form a better image of the flow through your application and of things that could be improved. This enables you to continue with making a user journey or with continuing your research with more focused questions.
To organize and analyze the results of your interviews, you might benefit from building a UX research repository.