How to conduct an interview – The Design Kit

How to conduct an interview:


The Five Whys:

  • start by asking a broad, open-ended question about your participants habitsor behaviours. Then ask “why” to their response five times in a row.
  • ask “why” questions that will require more in-depth answers
  • write down what you hear, pay special attention to when it feels like you’re moving to a deeper level
  • you may not get to the core detail until the fourth or fifth “why” question

Body Language:

  • truly engaged listening can be just as important as the questions you ask in an interview
  • ensure your body is on the same level as the person you’re interviewing (both sitting at the same level or both standing)
  • make and keep eye contact. Smile and nod your head to communicate that ou are listening and that they have your full attention
  • taking notes is further proof to the person that you’re listening and appreciate what they say
  • keep focused on the person your interviewing – make them the centre of attention
  • You are there to observe and learn, remember not to offer solutions to the interviewee

The Interview (60-90 minutes):

  • no more than 3 research team members should attend an interview. Each team member should have a clear role (interviewer, notetaker and photgrapher). It’s important to not overwhelm the participant or crowd the location.
  • Come prepared with a set of questions you want to ask. Start by asking broad questions about the person’s life, values and habits, before asking more specific questions that relate directly to your challenge
  • write down exactly what the person says, not what you think they might mean  – use direct quotes
  • observe the interviewee’s body language and the context in which they are talking

Group Interview:

  • a smart way to find out what is valuable to a community
  • what sort of group do you want to interview? What do you want to learn?
  • hold the group interview on neutral ground, a shared community space where people of all ages, races and genders will have access to
  • in a group interview, be sure to only have one person asking the questions, another team member taking notes and another capturing what the group is saying
  • come prepared with a strategy to engage the quieter members of the group – either ask them direct questions or find ways to make the more vocal members recade for a while
  • group interviews are a great way to identify who you may want a co-creation session with

Expert Interview:

  • What kind of experts do you need?
  • When recruiting experts, give them a preview of the kind of questions you are going to ask and how much of their time you will need
  • Choose experts with varying points of view
  • Ask smart, researched questions. What would you like to learn? Have a plan but make sure it is flexible so that you can pursue unexpected lines of enquiry
  • Record the interview with whatever tools you have

Extremes and Mainstreams:

  • Talk to people on either end of the spectrum apart from just mainstream people. Think about all the different people who may use your solution.
  • When talking to an extreme user, ask them how they would use your solution, do they use something similar and how does it or doesn’t suit their needs
  • make sure you are talking to men and women
  • make the participants feel welcome and let them know that their voices are critical to your research
  • determine who you want to talk to – think about factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, class, social position
  • make sure you understand social dynamics before you begin interviews

Co-Creation Session (1-3 hours):

  • Bring people you are designing for into the design process
  • empower them to work alongside you
  • you can co-create services, investigate how communities work, understand how to name your solution and what it’s logo should look like
  • a community is far more likely to adapt a product or servive they helped to create
  • who do you want in your co-creation session? – a group of people youo havve already interviewed or a particular demographic, e.g. teenagers
  • arrange a space, get the necessary supplies and invite them to join
  • use conversation starters, brainstorming, role plays, rapid prototyping or other activities to get your group engaged around the problem you are trying to solve.
  • capture the feedback your group gives you
  • make sure you treat your co-creation group as designers, not as interview subjects



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s