Stop Assuming Start Interviewing

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I remember my first real interview. It was for a project in high school. Together with my teammates, we had to build a prototype of a high-speed train out of cardboard, lego, and paper. Besides this, we had to gain information from a high-speed train specialist. My teammates were happy to keep building our prototype, and since I always liked chatting, I focused on doing the interview. I found one specialist who was eager to speak with me.

Before the interview, I prepared questions so I always had something to ask.

Oh boy, I was so nervous.

‘What if that person would think I didn’t know anything about the topic? Or maybe he didn’t want to help me at all?’ The interview went great and my fears disappeared the longer I spoke with the specialist. He was eager to share his knowledge which helped me grow my self-confidence and knowledge in the topic. 

I also learned the importance of interviews, because through there you’ll receive information you would otherwise never gain. 

Nowadays, there’s nothing different about it. Interviews are extremely important to get to know more about your customers. Otherwise something like this might happen:


Once upon a time, Suzy had this great product she wanted to bring onto the market. She had been thinking about it for a while already and because it’s such a thing for her, she assumes that others will feel the same way about it. 

One day, she decides to go for it. She asks a developer to develop her product.

Because of that, the developer creates the product Suzy wants. Suzy puts in all her savings but is sure that she will get her money out of it. 

Because of that, she brings the product onto the market. But nothing happens. “Why?” She wonders. I thought that this product would help people with similar issues as mine. She asked her friends’ and families’ opinion and they all said they loved it. But then she realised; they would not have been the ones buying my product.   

Until finally, the product failed and Suzy lost all her money. 


What was it that went wrong here?

Suzy assumed that people would love her product because she did. But, without really knowing if others really need it, a product is more likely to fail. 

This sounds logical, right? So why do scenarios like the one above still happen all the time?

1. It is convenient to use our own knowledge as a base since we are the ones creating it;

2. Our ego is telling us that we love our idea so others will do so too;

3. It saves us time and money to not talk to customers. In the short term.

In the long run, though, it can cost us much more time and money than we saved in the first place.  

So let’s not make that happen!

In the previous blog, I wrote about how to make sure you are using the most effective and time-efficient methods when you start your journey into customer research.

One really effective way of doing so it through interviewing.

You have probably all interviewed someone in your life, may that have been for your current business, for a university project, or just on the street because you wanted to know something from someone.

So how can it help you? 

1. It helps you find out what your customers need and want;

2. You get to know what’s important to them;

3. You see people’s emotions.

Interviews can be done in any stage of your business, may you just start and want to validate your idea, up to having the product ready and you want to know something specific for your product to be improved. Furthermore, because this world is changing so rapidly, people are too, and knowing and understanding their needs and wants will help you be able to keep adapting. When you do it well, the results will be able to be used to ideate and to improve current systems. So how do you do it?

These 8 tips will help you quickly to set up a great interview


1. Decide what’s the purpose for your interview

Why are you actually holding this interview? Having a clear picture of the purpose of the interview will help you in the later stages.


2. Prepare questions beforehand

It gives you a grip on your topic and helps you stay unbiased. 


3. Test your interviews

Having an interview ready is great. You want good results out of it. By first testing your interview with a colleague or a friend, you’ll be able to know if you get the answers you need. If not, change the questions based on the tips below! 

 4. Always stay unbiased

You are holding an interview because you want something from someone. Whereby it’s about them, and not you. Staying objective and open to all answers is extremely important to receive useful results.

A biased question would be:

“This product tastes good, right?”

The person answering will be pointed towards answering with ‘Yes’. Not only is this the answer you’d like to hear, but it’s also pushing the person into something they might not agree with.

 A good example of an unbiased question is the following:

“What do you think about the taste of this product?

This question is completely open and the interviewee can answer completely from their own perspective.

 5. Ask open questions

Open questions help to let the interviewee speak freely about the topic chosen. For example:

“Tell me about… ”

 “Can you tell more about this?”

“What happened when…? ”

“How do you do this?”

All these questions will help you stay unbiased. Keep it open and listen well! Visit Your Dictionary if you’d like some more examples.

 6. Always ask “Why?”

Which can always be asked after open questions. The question “Why?” gives deeper insights into human behaviour and the emotions behind decisions. Also, if you don’t know what you want to ask anymore, but want to know something more, just ask “Why?”, you’ll never know what you’ll get out of it.

Some examples are:

 “Why did you do that?”

“Really? And why was that?”

“Why did you choose to act like that?”

7. Explore emotions

One of the “Why?” questions that will definitely provide you from insights about your user is this one:

Why do you feel emotional about..?

By exploring emotions you will learn about feelings, and you will be able to see the emotions and expressions of a person. With this information, you will be able to decide if what someone is saying is really true, or not. Because, we are emotional human beings, the decisions we make aren’t often rational (also shown in economics, according to Milan Zavirovski).

And last but not least.

 8. Don’t ask people directly what they need and want

“If I had asked people what they wanted they would have said faster horses.” 

Henry Ford

You are the one who’s going to use all the information you gather through the research to find out what it is exactly what people want and need. By asking them directly, they will give you ways that would think according to them, but remember, you are the expert.

You know the problem you want to solve, what you want to know from your interviewees, are insights into their lives.

A great start is half the work

And enjoy! Having open, unbiased questions ready will help you gain the insights you will be able to use to create great products or services for your customers. 

Do you have other learnings about interviewing that went well or didn’t? Please feel free to share! 

The next blog topic will be about the power of observing: Why is this important to do besides interviewing and how do you do it well? 

Feel free to message me if you have any questions you’d like to ask, or how design and design thinking can help your businesses grow. 

Have a lovely day!