5 Tips for Conducting Effective User Interviews

Abhishek Kumar


In the world of user-centered design, conducting user interviews is a vital practice that provides invaluable insights into users' needs and preferences. According to a study conducted by Adobe, companies that prioritize customer experience have a 1.6x higher customer satisfaction rate and a 1.9x higher average order value. This shows the importance of conducting user interviews to create a better user experience and improve business outcomes.

Conducting user interviews is  not as simple as it seems from outside. It requires specific skills, techniques, and strategies to gather the most relevant information from the user. In this blog post, we will share five essential tips for conducting effective user interviews that will help you gain valuable insights and improve your design outcomes.

Tip #1: Develop a flexible interview guide

The interview guide is the backbone of the interview process, as it outlines the questions and topics that will be covered during the session. Developing a flexible interview guide is essential to allow for unexpected directions or answers to be explored. A good interview guide should be structured and cover key topics, but also flexible enough to allow for tangential discussion.

To develop a flexible interview guide, start by outlining the key topics you want to cover, such as the user's goals, pain points, preferences, and behaviours. Then, create open-ended questions that will allow the user to expand on their thoughts and experiences. For example, instead of asking "Do you like this product?" ask "Can you tell me about your experience using this product?".

It's important to keep in mind that users may have different perspectives and experiences that are not covered in your initial guide. Being flexible in your approach and allowing for tangential discussion can uncover valuable insights and lead to a better understanding of the user's needs and behaviors.

Tip #2: Use probing techniques

Asking the right questions is only half the battle; knowing how to ask them is equally important. That's where probing techniques come in. Probing is a way to get more information out of your interviewee by asking follow-up questions that encourage them to elaborate on their responses.

There are different types of probing techniques that you can use depending on the situation, such as:

Clarification probes: These types of probes help you to clarify what the interviewee is saying. For example, if the interviewee uses a term that you're not familiar with, you can ask them to explain it in more detail.

Expansion probes: These types of probes help you to get more detail on a particular topic. For example, if the interviewee mentions a particular feature that they like about your product, you can ask them to explain why they find it useful.

Contrast probes: These types of probes help you to compare and contrast different aspects of your product or service. For example, you can ask the interviewee to compare your product with a competitor's product.

It's important to use probing techniques carefully and not to overload the interviewee with too many questions. Remember to listen carefully to their responses and to ask follow-up questions that will help you to better understand their perspective.

Tip #3: Get a notetaker or simply record your session

During an interview, it is important to capture as much information as possible. One way to do this is to have a notetaker present during the interview. The notetaker can capture important information that you may have missed or provide a second perspective on the interview.

Alternatively, you can record the interview so that you can listen to it later. Recording the interview allows you to focus on the conversation and not worry about taking notes. It also ensures that you capture everything that was said during the interview.

When recording an interview, it is important to get permission from the interviewee first. You should also ensure that the recording is of high quality and that you have the necessary equipment to record the interview properly.

Tip #4: Analyze your findings

Once you've conducted several user interviews, it's time to analyse your findings. This involves reviewing your notes or recordings and identifying common themes and patterns that emerged during the interviews.

You can use different methods to analyse your findings, such as creating a list of common themes, creating a user persona, or creating a journey map. The method you choose will depend on the type of data you collected and your specific goals.

According to a survey by the Nielsen Norman Group, companies that conducted user testing and analysed their findings saw a 50% increase in customer satisfaction and a 47% increase in task success rates. This highlights the importance of analysing user interview findings and using them to improve products and services.

It's important to take the time to analyse your findings carefully so that you can identify any key insights that will help you to improve your product or service.

Tip #5: Minimise the number of observers in the call

Finally, it's important to minimise the number of observers in the call during the interview. Having too many people on the call can be distracting for both the interviewee and the interviewer.

Ideally, you should have no more than two people on the call: the interviewer and the notetaker. This allows the interviewer to focus on the conversation while the notetaker captures important information

UserStudy’s custom interview tool provides an innovative solution to the problem of managing observers during interviews. With this tool, observers can watch and listen in on the interview without disrupting the flow or affecting the responses of the interviewee. This feature can significantly improve the quality of your user interviews and ultimately lead to a better product.

Wrapping Up 

To wrap up, user interviews play a pivotal role in the product development journey, enabling a deep understanding of the target audience's needs and challenges. By conducting effective user interviews, guided by the aforementioned tips and leveraging cutting-edge tools such as UserStudy's custom interview tool, you unlock a wealth of invaluable insights to inform your product's success. Embrace the power of user interviews to create products that truly resonate with your audience and address their pain points, propelling your product development process towards triumph.

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