How to conduct user interviews

Gather meaningful insights, create better experiences

Cover article

Before the interview

Define the goal

It is crucial to start each new interview project with a clear understanding of the purpose of your research. It is vital that you know why you want to conduct the interviews and what is the desired outcome.

Design your interview structure

There are 3 different types of interview you could perform:

Interview types: Structured, Semi-structured and Unstructured interviews

Design your interview script

A discussion guide is a document in which you formulate the questions you want to ask your participants. Your discussion guide should be closely tied to the purpose of your research, and the questions should be selected according to your learning goal. In the case of semi-structured interviews, having a discussion guide or script does not restrict you from asking additional or follow-up questions but it is more like a skeleton for your discussion. During the interviews, the guide should serve as a reminder of the questions you want to ask or topics you want to cover.

Constructing an Interview script

Decide who to recruit

Recruitment is an important part of the interview process. It is essential to recruit a representative sample of your target audience. Start with your user personas and try to find interview participants that match them. Decide whether you want to have only one particular group of users or users from many different groups. Regarding the number of participants that should take part in the study, there is no set rule. One technique that you can apply is Jakob Nielsen’s recommendation for usability testing, which is to start with five participants. If you notice that by participant five you reached saturation and you’ve stopped getting any new insights, you probably don’t need to recruit any more participants.

Interview team setup

User interviews can be conducted in many different locations — at the users’ site, in a controlled environment like a lab, or remotely, using online meeting tools. The location should be decided based on the availability of the participants and the research team but also on the scope of the interview.

A note In Plain English

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User Experience Engineer that creates digital products 👩‍💻 with knowledge and passion💖

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Andra Cimpan

User Experience Engineer that creates digital products 👩‍💻 with knowledge and passion💖