Almost all the direct user research methods include interviews in some phase and in some form or another. There are few things to keep in mind to not spoil the truth.
When you truly need to find out more about people, you can either observe them or talk to them. Observing gives you honest answers about what they do, but eventually you will have to talk to them to really understand the underlying motives that drive them. There are few tips that can help you do better interviews, and few things to be aware of that can really mess up with your research results.
Interviewing is all about understanding the other person. Lead the conversation to those areas you want to study with open questions and go with the flow using active listening skills.If let, people will talk about things that they view important and that are valuable to hear.
Include your team. When you do interviews, try to include more than one research team member but not more than three. If you are alone, it’s going to be super hard to make clear notes and still keep the active listening experience up. If you are alone, use audio/video recorder and make the transcript later. And don’t scare the user by involving the entire team.
Assign roles. One person asks the questions and does the talking, one person takes notes and one can take photos, document the surroundings and make sure any recordings work. If multiple people are asking questions, it’s hard to keep the conversation flowing naturally.
(Note: The interviewer can take breaks between topics and ask other members if they have something they want to ask.)
Show interest. Be genuinely interested about the topic and the person you are interviewing. This creates trust and people are more enthusiastic to elaborate on things on their own.
Do not judge. You are there to learn about the other person, not correct him / her or engage in debates.
Reflect constantly. Don’t assume that you understood everything. Go back and see if you got it right. Quite often you hear “Oh I didn’t mean it like that, let me give you another example…”.
Clarify your doubts. The interview is the best moment to clarify things you are not sure about. If you are not sure what the other person meant when they said something – ask them. “So when you are talking about invoices, you mean…?”
There is no use going back to the office second guessing what they might have meant.
Analyze the findings. Go through your notes with the research team and fill any gaps with help from recordings.
Summarize the key findings from all the interviews in the same place so that you can identify patterns and see the full picture.