How to do your first user research interview

First thing, you need to decide what do you want to know from users. For which questions do you want to get answers. We need to prepare a plan of interview or/and a list with questions. And after the interview we need to have recorded answers for all assumptions.


Fundamental questions

We can start from most important or from most common questions if we don’t know the answer to them yet.

  1. What do the users need?
  2. What do the users want?
  3. What do that matters to them?
  4. Can they use the product?

On each of them a few additional requests can appear. It depends on your list (based on a stakeholders needs) and on the user’s answers. Focusing on right questions to make the decision for future design, remember:

“For every dollar spent making changes in design, it costs $6 in development and $100 after launch.”
— from Software Engineering: A Practitioner’s Approach book

Rationalization as a human factor

A key aspect in interview is to keep in mind the human factor such as “rationalization”. (e.g., Have you ever crossed a road into a red light when there were no cars? I think your answer is “nop”, or “it was only one time” even if you are not.) Even if you are lying, it’s OK, this little trick is called “rationalization”, don’t panic everybody’s doing it. It doesn’t mean that user wants to lie you, this is just our way of adapting to people’s expectations.

So, in perfect situation we should ask to show how user do a target interaction or a task. Just watching what and how he’s doing, be like a user’s shadow.

In the process, we should ask follow-up questions. (e.g., Why did you click here? Is it necessary? Is there another way to do it?…etc.)

Reference: video by Tomer Sharon UX researcher in Google


Ask about a feeling

In this way we can know problems in interaction with the product, asking about user’s feeling in process. Maybe in practice everything is OK because he was used to this flow, but for a new person, it will take a lot of time for a habit of using. That’s why we must try to bring user on emotional feedback by asking for the personal opinion.

At the same time observing how the user talks about it, what phrases he used or company slang. When he is open to conversation he can give us more specific info. For example:

I haven’t any problems with making email template, but this “surprise email” cheesing me!

“Surprise email” like e.g. of company slang, in this situation it means a replied letter can come back to you and no one knows why.

Try to know more about experience which user has, not about the future experience of opportunity.

Don’t make decisions instead the user

Asking the question we accidentally can affect the response of the user. So we should be sure that we don’t ask the user to mаkе choice without a choice. Don’t use this type of questions:

What do you think about this …? (maybe he didn’t even think about it)

Why is Spotify better than Google Music? (user can prefer Apple Music)

Good to read: Free e-book: Practical User Research for Enterprise UX


I hope it makes sense for you. I’ll be glad to hear some feedback. This is my first article here and 1st time in English.