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How to Conduct Effective User Interviews


  • User interviews are essential UX research methods.
  • Sessions involve 1-on-1 question-answer formats.
  • A clear goal and plan are paramount.
  • The purpose is to collect qualitative, self-reported data.
  • Focus is on users' words over their actions.
  • Listen actively for problems or pain points related to research objectives.
  • They assist in defining personas and determining features.

Preparing for the Interview

Set Clear Goals

  • Determine specific objectives to keep the interview focused.
  • Example: Understand millennials' attitude towards expense tracking and saving.

Recruitment and Planning

  • Recruit participants.
  • Organize logistics to ensure participants are in a relaxed and neutral setting.
  • Recording is recommended but:
  • Always ask for permission to record.
  • Hand-written notes might make the interviewee uncomfortable.
  • Prepare questions in advance.

The Funnel Interview Technique

  • Start with broad topics and narrow down. The Funnel Technique
  • Avoid bias and capture all essential data. The Funnel Interviews
  • Use 5-8 open-ended questions followed by follow-up queries.
  • Begin with general questions and probe for details.

Interview Etiquette

  • Begin with a human connection; avoid being transactional.
  • Offer a warm opening statement.
  • Example: "Hi, I'm Ali... Do you have any questions before we begin?"
  • Provide context for your questions.
  • Ensure participants feel acknowledged and valued.
  • Avoid technical jargon.
  • Conclude by allowing them to ask any questions (the doorknob effect).
  • Establish rapport; inquire about their background gently.
  • Speak less, listen more.

Crafting Objectives

  • Clearly define objectives for actionable insights.
  • Example: How and why do millennials trade stocks? (Potential answer: Building personal wealth).
  • Avoid overly broad or narrow questions.
  • Remember: Objectives -> Business Questions -> Research Questions. Example

During the Interview

  • Be adaptable with the questions and their sequence.
  • Limit interviews to one hour.
  • Practice with team members through role-playing before actual interviews.
  • Embrace a humble attitude, aiming to learn from the participant.
  • Video calls are often preferred for remote interviews.