Interviewing better

Don’t Sell Your Idea

Stop pitching and start listening. You’re honestly open to feedback. The best way to do that is to be honestly open to feedback.

My only goal is to make it better, and I promise you won’t hurt my feelings no matter what you say.

Don’t Ask Yes or No Question

They're closed.

When do you typically use this product? When did you last use it?

Don’t Lead the Participant

They don't need to have assumptions on what you think. Don't guide them.

Why did you sign up for the product?

Don’t Make the Participant Imagine

If you have a product and want feedback on it, show them the product. If you want to see how they’d interact with a potential feature, show them a prototype of the feature. If you’re just asking about people’s problems, you don’t necessarily have to show them anything. But in that case, you’re not asking them to imagine what a product might be like. You’re asking them to tell you about their reality, and that’s something we’re all much better at doing than imagining.

Don’t Help the Participant

Show me what you’d do if I weren’t here.

Don’t Fail to Follow Up

If you don’t get something incredibly useful and insightful after that, you can keep following up with

👀

“tell me more about that.”

Whatever it is, when a participant says something interesting, don’t just let it go. Keep following up until you understand the “why.”

Don’t Ignore the Results

Don’t waste your time and money on research you won’t act on.

Start by designing your research in a way that everybody on the team will respect and understand. Don’t let people discount results because they feel the methodology is flawed. If you find that stakeholders are ignoring or discounting your findings, get them involved early. When stakeholders are engaged earlier in the planning process, they’re far more likely to believe the outcome of the study, since they had a chance to weigh in on the methodology and voice their concerns about the study design.

Make sure that you have a clear goal for learning.

This doesn’t mean that you know exactly what the results will be ahead of time, but you should be focused on a very specific thing. Maybe it’s learning whether a new feature is usable. Maybe it’s learning what sort of people are using your product. Maybe it’s seeing what obstacles exist in your onboarding flow. Whatever the goal is, make sure that it’s clear ahead of time, and that your research is designed to help you learn that thing.

Avoid the research report.

If the people making critical product decisions are deeply involved in the research, then you can get rid of the need for a big report, which can cut weeks off the project. Instead, have a short working session where you and the team make sure that everybody understands the results.

Don’t Talk Too Much