Useful Tips for User Interview
One of the first UX methodologies I learned when I started UX was User Interviews. User interviews are very foundational to research activities. They provide the building blocks to any project and tackle the first two phases of design thinking empathize and define. My first thought when I came across user interviews was “oh interviews? It shouldn’t be that difficult”. But I quickly learned that while it may sound simple, mistakes are very easy to come by when conducting one. So on this piece, I’m not going in-depth into the subject. Rather here I have some tips for not only new designers but anyone who might be conducting an interview. These tips highlight common mistakes new interviewers tend to make and how to avoid them. The key things you want to take note of when conducting an interview is:
- Set up a plan for the interview. Determine your end goal and what you aim to get prior to the interview. I know this sounds like nothing but you’ll be shocked how easily tables can turn during an interview. Make a plan before you go into the interview so it doesn’t feel awkward and you don’t become the interviewee.
- Write notes or use applications like Otter.io to annotate for future reference. I would advise using both because no matter how fast you write you might miss some information. The app might miss-annotate sometimes so make sure you write down the important data. That way you can also reference them during the interview for follow up questions.
- Improvise — You want to have your questions down before the interview. During the interview, ask follow-up questions to unearth key findings. Improvise and ask further questions based on the replies. It sounds annoying but sometimes you want to get into a situation where you are almost prying. Users sometimes won’t divulge the full information. So you have to dig deeper to identify triggers and drivers.
- Unconscious bias. This one is very common among new interviewers, avoid leading questions. Ask open-ended questions, don’t assume, interrupt, intimidate, or explain the questions. Paraphrase users’ statements and ask for more detail instead.
- Ask for context by using who, what, when, where, why, and how to avoid close-ended questions.
- For Designers, avoid interviewing friends/relatives if possible. Interviewing relatives could taint research if they know it’s your project. Most times they don’t want to be hard which could lead to inaccurate data. They can also be distracting too, try getting teammates to interview relatives instead.
Finally be clear, concise, gentle, sensitive, open, critical, and keep eye contact. Although this does sound cliche, keeping eye contact shows concentration and interest. This also makes for an inviting and comfortable environment for the participant. And comfortable participants tend to reveal more.