5 Steps for Setting Up In-depth Interviews

We share 5 steps to set up in-depth interviews to start generating critical insights from discovery research!


In-depth interviews are gold. This user research method allows us to genuinely understand who our customers are and what they experience in their everyday lives. It’s a style of interviewing that goes beyond the customer’s interaction with our product. Of course, we still want to know how a product or service impacts them. However, understanding our customers as real people, with lives outside of our product, should affect the way we build our product or service.

How do you set up these research interviews?

Here are 5 steps to get started:

  1. Define your problem statement. This is the central statement the research seeks to understand. It is WHAT you will be studying.

Example: Choosing a software product is a very complex process; we seek to deeply understand how people make these decisions.

2. Define your research objectives. They should address HOW you are going to study the problem statement. Do this by breaking the research problem down into several objectives:

Ask yourself: “What am I trying to learn?” and “What must the research achieve?”

Example objectives:

  • Understand the end-to-end process of how participants are currently making decisions on choosing a software product.
  • Uncover the different tools participants use to make software product decisions.
  • Identify any problems or barriers they encounter when trying to make decisions on software products.
  • Learn about any improvements participants might make to their current decision-making process.

Identify what stage of the idea is being researched:

  • A concept or idea: You need to understand the process people are currently going through (generative research)
  • A prototype: You need to uncover what people think about the prototype and how they expect to use it (generative + usability testing)
  • Live code: You need to evaluate the performance of the product and what people think about it (usability testing)

3. Target the correct participants for the study. Before you start recruiting, you have to understand who your users are so you can optimize recruiting efforts. Talking to the right people is a fundamental part of effective research. What are some ways to do this?

  • If you haven’t already established personas or a target audience, take a day to define your target user. Do they work in marketing, sales, customer support? Probe internal stakeholders for key insights and come up with proto-personas.
  • Scope your competitors, and recruit based on their audiences. Bonus: You can even recruit people who use the competitor’s product, and during the interview, ask them how they would make it better.

4. Write a research plan. Research plans contain all of the necessary information about the research project. Use it as a kick-off document to distill core goals and align the whole team.

5. Align the team. Once you have finished the research plan — or even before — sit down with the team to discuss the research problem and objectives. By doing this, the whole team can brainstorm questions they would like answered or concepts they would like to understand better through the research.

With these five steps, you should be able to start generating critical insights from discovery research!

 

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