User interviews are a quick and easy way to understand how users feel about your product. They work well in the early phase of developing a product concept by capturing demographics, motivations, or needs. Later in the design process, they can inform personas, journey maps, and user flows. At the end of a usability test, interviews collect verbal responses related to observed behaviors.
Where surveys are structured, interviews are semi-structured. The interviewer will prepare pre-written questions and change these questions or add new ones as the discussion requires.
Set a goal for your interview that is concise, concrete, and specific. Write straightforward questions that ask about only one thing.
Start with easy-to-answer questions to develop rapport. Combine open-ended questions with closed ones to ease your user into talking more. Your questions should be dialog-provoking and not allow for simple one-word responses. Avoid asking leading questions.
Because a user interview leaves room to improvise, practice how you might handle unexpected situations, and think about what you would do if your user did not respond to a question. Consider asking questions like, "Can you tell me more about that?"
Recruit a pilot participant, practice, and give yourself enough time to change your script.
Conducting user interviews takes practice but doesn't need to be stressful. Developing a rapport with your subject helps. Be yourself. You don't have to be best friends, but make your subject comfortable. People are more likely to talk if they feel relaxed. Make sure your subject feels physically comfortable in the environment.
Let your interview subject know that there are no wrong answers. Not everybody feels comfortable talking with a stranger. Make the interviewee feel heard by nodding, making eye contact, and acknowledging their responses. Avoid making facial expressions that might make your user uncomfortable.
You want to keep your interviewee talking. Let them know that the more they say, the better. Reassure them that the information they are offering is excellent. Participants don't know what information is relevant to the interviewer and often leave out details. They usually don't think minor interactions are significant enough to bring up.
Set aside more time than necessary for the interview so no one feels rushed. If your subject starts talking about something that seems irrelevant at first, bear with it. Let users finish their thoughts and do not interrupt them. Don't rush them, and slow down your own pace of speech. Wait 5 seconds after each response before moving on to the next question. Often this extra time allows subjects to say more.
Tell your interview subjects that you're taking notes, recording the session, and sharing the results with your team. Allow them to remain anonymous. Get these details noted early in the interview after you've developed a little rapport. Try not to overfill the interview room or Zoom call with your teammates. Having too many people might make your user uncomfortable.
After your interview, ask your subjects if they have anything else to add. And make sure they have a way to contact you if something comes up later. Thank your interviewee for participating.