January 4, 2023

10 things a user researcher should never do during a user interview

Rushali Singh

The quality of insights from your user interviews directly depends on the questions you pose and the actions you take. For high-quality research, it's imperative to ensure that one asks well-considered questions and thoroughly plans the method of action. Our User Researchers have compiled a list of 10 things you should never do during a research interview:

Asking leading questions

  • You might construct a question in such a way as to support your hypothesis, but it won't reflect what the respondent genuinely believes. Although it will be more enjoyable to hear that your hypothesis was correct, this will skew the findings. Choose neutral questions so the respondent won't feel the need to respond in a certain manner and can freely express his or her ideas.

Asking complex questions that could be misinterpreted. 

  • It's never a good idea to complex questions or multiple questions. When preparing, try to make your questions as simple as you can without using any jargon. If uncertain, practice your interview questions on your coworkers or friends before going in. Rewrite and simplify if necessary if they are unclear to them.

Asking close-ended questions is a no-go.

  • Typically, for close-ended questions, the user's responses are concise. Additionally, because participants will be responding to your specific question instead of sharing a story where you might learn something you hadn't previously considered, you won't often gain surprising insights. Your interview findings will be richer if you ask open-ended questions. And if the respondent starts talking about completely unrelated topics, you can always carefully redirect the conversation in the appropriate direction.

Asking Hypothetical questions.

- Converse about the past rather than the future. In awkward circumstances, we often try to impress people we hardly know. Especially when it comes to delicate topics, we want to appear better than we are. Therefore, there is a significant probability that the user may provide answers which might not be completely true or that what they truly believe in asking for specific past events tends to be more representative of user behaviour.

Not clarifying when people use vague words without further explanation

  • For various people, terms like "convenient," "nice-looking," etc., might signify completely different things. It is the researcher’s responsibility to define these terms and get the most accurate explanation possible. Asking "What items do you use that you find convenient?" followed by "What is convenient about product X for you?" can help if a person finds it difficult to explain. Most of the time, people find it far simpler to respond to these questions. And following the interview, you can review those products.

Posing questions which have any judgement already built-in.

  • Before posing follow-up questions, emphasising too much on the good qualities of a feature will make users reluctant to offer criticism. Additionally, as no one offers users this kind of guidance in real life, having a lot of information before attempting to use the feature leads to inaccurate feedback.

Assuming that you understood what a user is saying instead of asking for more details directly.

  • The way you view the situation will undoubtedly influence how you interpret the findings. However, it would be worthwhile if doing so could reduce this to a minimum. Never stop yourself from asking follow-up questions to the users instead of assuming.

Incorrect assumption that the user needs your product or feature.

  • When you ask users, "How have you solved problem X?" you can learn that they don't consider it to be a serious problem and aren't interested in paying for the solution. It's unlikely that they will use a distinct product for it if they haven't put a lot of time or effort into it in the past.

Having no pre-screening. All the respondents are not equally useful.

  •  Some of them could trick or attempt to fit into the interview to receive incentives. Because they lack the relevant experience, your interview results will suffer and their responses will be doubtful. Thus, you should also conduct pre-screening before the interview to eliminate such chances. 

Not testing the current hypotheses the company has.

  • You might ask a few questions to determine whether the present company's hypotheses are accurate since you already have some opportunity to speak with the product's potential or existing users. If those were purely presumptions that any research could not support, it is preferable to replace them as quickly as possible with factual data. 

Researchers should always be careful when preparing for user interviews. By doing user interviews, you can discover how your users see the world. Spend time establishing rapport and concentrating on being an active listener to get exceptional insights. It can sometimes feel like a tedious and difficult task, but with time and practice, anybody can ace it. 

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