Remote Interview Tips for Market Researchers

Remote Interview Tips for Market Researchers

We know that making changes to an existing research plan can be stressful, especially when your plan previously included in-person interviews.

With the current outbreak of COVID-19 and the widespread adoption of social distancing, researchers are wondering how to transition an in-person project to a remote project.

To help make this transition as seamless as possible, we’ve answered a few common questions from researchers confronting this transition. Our advice is based on years of working with the world’s largest remote research teams, through a fully remote platform, supported by a remote workforce.

In other words, we are confident that these are the best ways to conduct your remote research.

How can I build rapport virtually the way I can when I meet a respondent in person?

While you may be accustomed to building rapport in person, building rapport remotely can be just as easy, if not easier, for a few reasons:

  • Extra time: Without the need to account for travel, you can extend the timing of your interview to include “get to know” time with your participant at the beginning.
  • Comfort: Many participants are more comfortable sharing open and honest feedback when they are in a known, comfortable environment (such as the now common work-from-home setup).

How do I use body language/contextual clues to get a full understanding of participant feedback?

  • Format: Opt for a video call as opposed to a phone call so that you can still establish a personal connection through body language (smiling, nodding, laughing).
  • Validation: It may help to add another colleague to your interview who can observe and note body language in more detail, or revisit your recordings with an eye for that after the session.

How can I replicate direct, observational research with a remote setup?

Although respondents are understandably avoiding nearly all outside-the-home activities for the time being, many are more willing than ever to experiment with remote, in-home studies involving the physical products and appliances they own.

You can replicate an in-home research experience using photo or video from respondents’ smartphones or webcams.

If your study relies on physical activity outside the home, you can instead opt for a video call and ask detailed questions on the specifics of a respondents’ past experience in the environment in question.

Although different from in-the-moment insights and direct observation, your team will likely still find more value from this data in the absence of other sources than you would by foregoing the study altogether.

Regardless of methodology, there is almost always a way to gain the insights you’re looking for remotely.

What tools do I need to conduct remote interviews?

Video Conferencing:

  • With video conferencing tools like Zoom, you can still meet participants “face to face.”
  • You can share your screen or ask your participants to share theirs and walk you through what they see.
  • You can record and get a transcript of the session to refer back to. You can also use tools like for transcription.
  • You can invite colleagues to join the session via phone or video.
  • Explore the complete list of Research Tool Integrations supported by Respondent.

Collaboration Tools:

  • Use tools like Figma or Invision to share out your designs, new features, and prototypes with your participants.
  • In tandem with a recorded Zoom session, you can get raw insight on how your customer interacts with or would interact with your prototype.
  • Get feedback and collaborate with a tool like Miro, where you can have your team or participants share sticky notes with comments about the information you’re sharing.

What best practices should I consider that are unique to remote interviews?

Before the interview

  • Communication: Set expectations with participants ahead of time that you will be doing a video conference and they’ll need a working webcam in order to participate. (If you use Respondent, we recommend including this in the body of your invitation or using the messages feature.)
  • Internet: We recommend a minimum of 50 Mbps upload speed for video interviews. Ask participants to take a free internet speed test and share a screenshot of the test results to avoid any connectivity issues. (Make sure you do the same if you’re working from home.)
  • Tools: If the participant needs to create an account or download software (such as Zoom) to complete your session, send them clear instructions on how to do so to prevent that from eating into your session time.
  • Security: Keep in mind that the best way to put your user interview participant and yourself at ease is to address any anxieties that may arise from unfamiliar surroundings or technological tools, some of which may also come with data security concerns. 

During the interview

  • Introduction: Take time at the beginning of your session to get to know your participant; have fun! Use an icebreaker or find common ground to build rapport before digging into the agenda for your session.
  • Documentation: Record your sessions (with permission from participants) so you and your team can reference them after the fact.
  • Troubleshooting: Internet connections may be unstable with more people working from home. Make sure you and your respondent have a way to reach each other in case you disconnect. (Researchers on the Respondent platform have access to participants’ contact information.)


  • Be patient and flexible! It can take a few sessions to hit your stride. Don’t be discouraged as challenges come up during this transition; we’re all in this together.

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