How to Perfect Your Skills at Interviewing Prospects And Customers

I train almost a hundred people every year on user research techniques. The exercise we do in class is interviewing people for ten to fifteen minutes to understand how they use email (just email in general).

Although some people do really well, most people struggle to keep the discussion going without leading the interviewee on.

Ten minutes feels like a very long time. Most participants fall victim to response and interviewer biases. They ask loaded questions (Would you say retrieving email is a big problem?), give their opinions, and only remember information that matches their thesis; all because they feel they must contribute to the discussion.

To excel at this type of research, you must be a great listener and let your prospects do the talking.

The following questions will help you evaluate the effectiveness of your interviewing techniques.

Were you able to:

  • Sustain the interest of your prospect?
  • Make your prospect talk and dig deep into their problems?
  • Direct the discussion without controlling it?
  • Abstain from selling a vision or trying to convince your prospect?
  • Steer clear of confirmation, interviewer or response biases?
  • Learn about the problems and situation of your prospect?
  • Leave the prospect with a positive feeling?
  • Earn references?

Practice makes perfect. Learn from the experience and take your lessons to your next interview.

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