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Common Mistakes To Avoid When Conducting User Interviews


Are you about to conduct user interviews for your product or service? Great! User interviews can be an insightful and valuable way to gain feedback on your offerings. However, before diving in, it's important to know what mistakes to avoid if you want to get the most out of these conversations.

Firstly, not setting clear objectives and goals is a common mistake that can lead to unfocused and unproductive interviews. Without a clear understanding of what you want to achieve from the interview process, it's easy for conversations to wander off topic or miss key insights. In this article, we'll explore how you can set effective goals and objectives for your user interviews so that you can stay on track and gather actionable feedback from your users. So let's dive in and learn more about other crucial mistakes that need avoiding when conducting user interviews.

Key Takeaways

  • Clear objectives and goals must be established before conducting user interviews to ensure focused and productive discussions.
  • Preparation is crucial, including identifying areas of focus and using open-ended and unbiased questioning techniques.
  • Non-verbal cues should be observed during interviews, and cultural differences should be considered when interpreting them.
  • The interview environment should be carefully chosen to ensure quality and accuracy of information gathered, and building rapport with interviewees is important for establishing trust and gathering honest feedback. Follow-up and analysis are also crucial steps for achieving product goals and objectives.

Not Setting Clear Objectives and Goals

You'll want to make sure you're not just winging it when conducting user interviews - setting clear objectives and goals beforehand will help guide your conversation and ensure you get the most valuable insights from your users. Before starting any interview, take the time to establish expectations with your team about what insights you hope to gain. This will help align priorities and ensure everyone is on the same page.

When setting goals for an interview, think about what information would be most helpful for improving your product or service. Are there specific pain points that need to be addressed? Is there a feature that needs further refinement? By identifying these areas of focus ahead of time, you can tailor your questions and discussion points accordingly. And by doing so, you'll be able to avoid asking leading or biased questions that could compromise the integrity of your research findings.

Asking Leading or Biased Questions

Don't let your questions lead your interviewee down a predetermined path; instead, strive for neutral phrasing to get the most honest and insightful answers possible. Question phrasing is a critical aspect of user interviews as it can influence the responses you receive. When you ask leading or biased questions, you risk affecting the validity of your research by introducing interviewer influence into the data collected.

To avoid this pitfall, consider using open-ended questions that allow interviewees to share their thoughts freely without any predetermined direction. As an example, compare these two questions: "Do you think our product is easy to use?" versus "How would you describe your experience using our product?" The first question assumes that the product is easy to use and could lead respondents to agree with that statement even if they don't believe it. In contrast, the second question allows them to share their actual experience without any assumptions or guiding directions. To highlight this point further, take a look at the table below comparing examples of leading/biased versus neutral question phrasing:

Leading/Biased PhrasingNeutral Phrasing
Don't you think our product is great?What do you think about our product?
How much time do you waste on this task?Can you tell me about how long it takes to complete this task?

Asking unbiased questions can help ensure that respondents provide accurate insights into their experiences with your product or service. Once again, don't exaggerate when asking these questions – honesty is key in building trust with interviewees and ensuring reliable research results. However, even when asking unbiased questions and having clear objectives set for interviews there are still common mistakes in conducting user interviews such as overlooking non-verbal cues which we will dive into next.

Overlooking Non-Verbal Cues

It's easy to miss out on valuable information during user interviews when we fail to pay attention to non-verbal cues. Body language interpretation is a crucial aspect of conducting successful user interviews. Observing the interviewee's facial expressions, posture, and gestures can provide insight into their thoughts and emotions that they might not express verbally.

However, it's also essential to be mindful of cultural differences when interpreting non-verbal cues. For example, in some cultures, avoiding eye contact might be a sign of respect rather than dishonesty or discomfort. Therefore, it's crucial to establish an open dialogue with the interviewee about their cultural norms and any potential misunderstandings that may arise. By paying close attention to non-verbal cues while remaining culturally sensitive, you'll gain a deeper understanding of your users' needs and preferences.

Now that you've learned about the importance of body language interpretation in user interviews let's talk about conducting interviews in the wrong setting.

Conducting Interviews in the Wrong Setting

If the setting of your interviews is not carefully chosen, it can impact the quality and accuracy of the information gathered from your participants. Conducting user interviews in the wrong environment can lead to distractions, discomfort, or bias that could affect how participants respond to your questions. Interviewing techniques should consider different factors such as location, accessibility, comfort level, and privacy.

To help you avoid conducting interviews in inappropriate settings or environments, here are some do's and don'ts when selecting a place for participant recruitment:

Choose a quiet and comfortable space with minimal distractions.Conduct an interview in a busy public area like a coffee shop.Noise and other people around may distract both interviewer and participant leading to incomplete answers or errors in communication.
Select a private venue where confidentiality is respected.Interview someone at their workplace without considering their schedule or work hours.Participants may be under pressure to return to work leading them to rush through responses or give incomplete answers.
Have water available if needed.Forget about basic amenities like water or restroom facilities.Participants who are thirsty/hungry/distracted will not be focused on answering questions but rather on getting what they need first before answering any questions

By following these guidelines for choosing the right setting for your user interviews, you can improve the chances of obtaining valuable insights from your participants while making them feel at ease during the interview process. Failing to follow-up and analyze results will hinder progress towards achieving product goals and objectives.

Failing to Follow-Up and Analyze Results

Make sure you take the time to follow-up and analyze the results of your user interviews to validate whether or not your assumptions are correct. It is important that you record all the data gathered during the interview, including notes on body language, tone of voice, and any other nonverbal cues that may provide insight into what the user is really thinking. This information can be used later when analyzing results to help you understand why users responded in certain ways.

In addition to recording data, it is also important to build rapport with your interviewees. This helps establish trust and makes them feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions with you. By building a good relationship with your users, they will be more likely to provide honest feedback which ultimately leads to better results. Remember that user interviews are not just about gathering information; they're also about building relationships and understanding your users on a deeper level. So don't forget to follow-up and analyze those results!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you select the participants for user interviews?

When selecting participants for user interviews, consider the interviewee criteria that aligns with your research goals. Look beyond demographics and seek out users who can provide valuable insights. Use recruitment channels like social media, referrals, or industry events to find suitable candidates.

What is the best way to handle a participant who is not willing to share their honest opinion?

Building rapport is key when dealing with resistance. According to a recent study, 70% of participants are more likely to share their honest opinion if they trust the interviewer. Use active listening and open-ended questions to create a safe space for sharing.

How do you ensure that the interviewer's own biases do not influence the interview?

To avoid biases and maintain objectivity during user interviews, use structured questions, stay open-minded, and actively listen without interrupting. Record the session for review later and conduct a self-assessment to address your own potential biases.

What are some effective techniques to encourage participants to share more detailed responses?

Oh, you want participants to spill their guts? Just ask generic questions and don't bother with role playing exercises or open ended questions. That'll get 'em talking! (Hint: that's sarcasm.)

How do you prioritize and decide which insights from the interviews to focus on during analysis?

When analyzing user interview insights, it's important to consider context. Balancing quantitative and qualitative data helps identify patterns and prioritize key takeaways, ultimately guiding product decisions that meet users' needs.


Congratulations! You have now learned about the common mistakes to avoid when conducting user interviews. By following these guidelines, you will be able to conduct a successful interview and gain valuable insights into your users' needs and preferences.

But don't stop there! As a tech-savvy researcher, it is important to investigate the truth of any theory or assumption you may have before conducting an interview. This not only adds depth and complexity to your writing but also ensures that you are asking the right questions and gathering relevant data.

Remember, user interviews are just one part of the research process. It is equally important to follow-up and analyze your results to make informed decisions about how best to meet the needs of your users. So keep on exploring, learning, and improving your interviewing skills - who knows what valuable insights you may uncover next?