Design Thinking

Stakeholder Interview Tips

"Interviewing is like diving into the ocean to uncover what's beyond the tip of the iceberg. If you can uncover the feelings and emotions behind the actions "under the surface", you may find latent needs, insights and opportunities." - Dan Buchner, author of the book, "How Might We..."

Interview Tips:

Before the interview:

  • Know your goals and why you are doing the interviews - this will help to create focus and intention
  • Have a plan but hold it loosely - have great questions prepared and be willing to dig deeper and flow where the energy is
  • Do research on the interviewee - don't waste time asking about things you could have looked up
  • Raise awareness to any biases you may have - note them and park them so that you intentionally remain open and curious
  • Ideally you will have one person conduct the interview and one person take notes (or you could ask for permission to record and take notes later)

During the interview:

  • Introduce yourself and share the intention of your time together
  • Ask for permission to ask questions and to take notes and/or record the session
  • Build rapport - starting with How are you?  
  • Have a conversation!
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Avoid leading questions
  • Practice mirroring by confirming what you heard for clarification
  • Elicit emotions - you might transfer these feelings and quotes onto your empathy map
  • Note body language, expressions and feelings
  • Actively listen (90% listen, 10% talk)
  • Use visuals as desired
  • Start with easy questions and progress to more challenging (ask why)
  • Discover their goals, values and motivations relative to the product or service
  • Where possible - watch the interviewee in action as they move towards their goal (i.e. As they attempt to find/use a product or service on your website) and have them speak out loud as they go through the process (Observational Research)
  • They could also record themself or do a photo journal doing so
  • Take note of any Say-Do gaps that may reveal pain/gain points - people often say and do different things which can lead to opportunities for innovation
  • Start with their current reality and then talk about their desired future
  • Use silence to your advantage - people are inclined to keep talking and you learn more
  • Ask if you can follow up with them for prototype testing at another date
  • Share your appreciation and how valuable their time was to you and this process

After the interview:

  • Take notes on your notes to determine new learnings from the interview
  • Send a thank you to the interviewee and confirm that you'll reach out again if they gave you permission to do so during your prototyping stage
  • Put your notes into the collaboration tool and discuss insights with your team

Types of Questions:

Easing-in Questions

  • A great place to start
  • Should be easy for the interviewee to answer
  • Makes the interviewee comfortable

Storytelling Questions

  • Guides the interviewee to tell a story
  • May be more effort for the interviewee to answer
  • "Tell me about a time when..." or "Describe the last time..."  

Exploratory Questions

  • Designed to reveal unexpected answers & insights
  • Gives the interviewee a free voice
  • Lend themselves to follow-up questions
  • End with "Anything else?" or "If you could have a magic wand...."  

Check out this video for additional tips:

Hope this was helpful to you!

Warmly, Joanna

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