EX07 - User Interviews

Going to the source of information

The answers you seek are out there. You only need to ask the right questions of the right people to unlock the vault.

Updated April 30, 2020

In a sea of possible methods for information collection, user interviews produce higher quality data than nearly all other options.

A single interview can provide detail and context impossible to gather in any other form.

Yes, there are drawbacks. User interviews can be time-intensive, but better remote conferencing and scheduling tools are making it easier to connect with people. Those enhancements also provide a way to communicate with a broader possible pool of participants as unconstrained by geographic region.

Pre-selected questions guide most interviews, but the unexpected discoveries that occur during the meeting produce the most impactful information. Just asking the right follow-up question or picking up on subtle voice and body language cues can lead to significant observations.

Included in the resources below is a breakdown of user interviews into three distinct phases. While you'll soon grow out of this checklist-style approach, having it early on will allow you to focus more of your energy on the interview itself.

Resources for review

Please use the following items to guide your exercise attempt:

Article Source/Author
Three sides to every interview New Pragmatic
Interviewing Humans Erika Hall
User Interviews: How, When, and Why to Conduct Them Kara Pernice


Length: Around four actual hours to complete (scheduling will take longer to complete).

Quality user interviews require a bit of effort to conduct successfully, but they provide an abundance of information to guide your project. For this exercise, you'll have no trouble finding people will passionate views about public schools. It is important to remain level-headed through the interview, as too much interaction might negatively sway the results of the session.

To complete this exercise, do the following:

  1. Construct an outline of questions to use during the interview.
  2. Set up an account for a remote conferencing tool.
  3. Set up Calendly for scheduling.
  4. Contact at least five participants from your research panel (previously constructed from the surveys exercise.).
  5. Conduct at least three user interviews.
  6. Record the session or recruit an assistant to help with note-taking.
  7. Thank each participant with a follow-up email.

As mentioned in the prior exercise, you're on a tight deadline. You must set a deadline for these interviews to be conducted no more than 48 hours after you send your initial request.

Also, if you're interested in recruiting an assistant, it is often helpful to offer to be an assistant for another student. This helps you also see how someone else performs the task, and you can provide pointers to one another.


Once complete, update your Program Journal with links to any assets produced in this exercise. Post your Journal in the #Feedback-Loop channel for review.


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