The Art of Conducting User Interviews: A Guide to Effective Research


Hatched by Glasp

Aug 08, 2023

6 min read


The Art of Conducting User Interviews: A Guide to Effective Research


User interviews are a fundamental aspect of conducting research and gaining valuable insights from individuals. Whether you're a product designer, marketer, or entrepreneur, understanding the art of user interviews is crucial for gathering information that can drive your decision-making process. In this article, we will explore the foundational elements of user interviews and delve into the dos and don'ts of conducting successful interviews.

Foundation: Live Auctions

Before we dive into the intricacies of user interviews, let's draw a parallel to the world of live auctions. Just like an auctioneer, the interviewer must possess the ability to engage participants, extract valuable information, and guide the conversation towards meaningful insights. Similar to the fluidity and energy of a live auction, user interviews require careful planning and skillful execution.

The Art of the User Interview: Step 2 and 3

Preparing a Discussion Guide:

To conduct effective user interviews, it is crucial to prepare a discussion guide. Interviewees have limited short-term memory capacity, so it is recommended to keep questions concise, under 20 words. This will help them retain information and provide more accurate responses.

15 Things You Should Do When Interviewing People:

1. Put Yourself in the Mood:

Before conducting an interview, it is essential to get into the right mindset. Approach each interview with genuine curiosity and empathy, as this will create a comfortable and open environment for the interviewee.

2. Provide a Warm Welcome:

Make interviewees feel welcomed and appreciated. A friendly and inviting atmosphere will encourage them to share their thoughts and experiences more openly.

3. Build an Arc:

Structure the interview in a way that builds momentum. Begin with easy questions to establish rapport and gradually delve into more complex topics. This gradual progression will help interviewees feel more at ease and willing to share deeper insights.

4. Explain That There Are No Right or Wrong Answers:

To foster open and honest responses, assure interviewees that there are no right or wrong answers. Encourage them to share their opinions, even if they differ from your expectations.

5. Start Off with the Easy Questions:

Begin the interview with simple, non-threatening questions. This allows interviewees to ease into the conversation and build confidence before addressing more challenging topics.

6. Ask Interviewees About Specific Moments in the Past:

To elicit detailed responses, ask interviewees to recall specific moments from their past experiences. These references to real-life examples will help them provide more vivid and authentic insights.

7. Ask Follow-Up Questions:

Don't be afraid to dig deeper. Asking follow-up questions shows genuine interest and encourages interviewees to provide more elaborate answers.

8. Prioritize Open-Ended Questions:

Open-ended questions allow interviewees to express themselves freely and provide more nuanced responses. Avoid yes or no questions, as they limit the depth of the conversation.

9. Ask for Extremes:

To gain a comprehensive understanding of interviewees' perspectives, ask them to share extreme cases or scenarios. This approach encourages them to think outside the box and provides valuable insights.

10. Ask to Observe Behavior:

In addition to verbal responses, observe interviewees' behavior during the interview. Non-verbal cues can often reveal valuable insights that may go unnoticed in verbal responses alone.

11. When in Doubt, Clarify:

If an interviewee's response is unclear or ambiguous, don't hesitate to ask for clarification. This ensures that you have a complete understanding of their perspective and prevents any misinterpretations.

12. Keep an Eye on the Time:

While it is important to cover all the necessary topics, be mindful of the interview duration. Respect interviewees' time and ensure that the conversation remains focused and efficient.

13. Minimize Note-Taking:

Constant note-taking can be distracting and may hinder the flow of the interview. Instead, focus on active listening and record key points afterward. This allows you to fully engage with the interviewee and maintain a natural conversation flow.

14. Watch Out for Non-Verbal Clues:

Pay attention to interviewees' body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice. Non-verbal cues can provide valuable insights and help you understand the underlying emotions and motivations behind their responses.

15. Finish with a Wrap-Up Summary:

Conclude the interview with a summary of the key points discussed. This not only helps solidify the information gathered but also allows interviewees to confirm or clarify any misconceptions.

Step 5: 7 Things to Avoid When Interviewing People

1. Don't Ask Leading Questions:

Leading questions can bias the interviewee's responses and steer the conversation in a particular direction. Instead, focus on neutral and open-ended questions that allow for unbiased insights.

2. Don't Fill the Silence:

Silence during an interview can be uncomfortable, but it is essential to allow interviewees time to gather their thoughts and provide genuine responses. Avoid filling the silence with unnecessary chatter or prompting.

3. Don't Draw Attention to Specific Issues:

Avoid highlighting specific issues or biases you may have during the interview. This can influence the interviewee's responses and hinder the collection of unbiased insights.

4. Don't Ask If They'd Buy Your Product:

While it may be tempting to gauge interest in your product or idea, avoid asking interviewees if they would buy it. This question can create bias and may not accurately reflect their true opinions or behaviors.

5. Don't Answer a User's Questions:

During the interview, it is important to focus on gathering insights from the interviewee rather than providing answers or explanations. Encourage them to share their thoughts and opinions without interruption.

6. Resist the Urge to Judge or Educate Your Interviewees:

Maintain a non-judgmental and unbiased approach throughout the interview. Avoid imposing your own opinions or attempting to educate the interviewee on specific topics. The goal is to understand their perspectives, not influence them.

7. Don't Express Your Own Opinion:

While it is natural to have personal opinions and biases, it is important to set them aside during the interview. Remain neutral and objective to ensure the collection of unbiased insights.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Develop a comprehensive discussion guide before conducting user interviews. This will help you stay organized and ensure that you cover all the necessary topics.
  • 2. Practice active listening during interviews. Engage fully with the interviewee, pay attention to their responses, and ask relevant follow-up questions. This will help you gather more detailed and valuable insights.
  • 3. After each interview, take time to reflect and analyze the information gathered. Look for patterns, commonalities, and unique insights that can inform your decision-making process.


User interviews are a powerful tool for gathering insights and understanding the needs and preferences of your target audience. By following the art of user interviews, you can unlock valuable information that can shape the development of products, services, and experiences. Remember to prepare a discussion guide, prioritize open-ended questions, and avoid common pitfalls to conduct successful user interviews and drive informed decision-making.

Hatch New Ideas with Glasp AI 🐣

Glasp AI allows you to hatch new ideas based on your curated content. Let's curate and create with Glasp AI :)