User interviews do's and don'ts - what's worked well for your product?

Dan Parsons
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I've performed hundreds of hours of user interviews throughout my career. They can be a gold mine when it comes to uncovering new insights and getting to the core of a problem space. However, some ways limit your learnings and can waste valuable time - here are a few things I always try to keep in mind: 1. Come prepared - it's essential to have a script written; this will ensure that all of your interviews have consistent questions and helps identify trends. 2. Record the interview when possible - always ask your subjects if you can record the sessions, if approved, you can share highlights with your team and have for future reference. 3. "Tell me about a time when" = good. A lot of times, you want users to guide their own answers, so you should prompt them with generative guidance, then give them space to talk and ramble. 4. Probe, probe, probe - "Tell me about a time when," "how did you feel when," "why was that important to you," "is that what you were expecting" - get the motivation and feeling of the comment. 5. Try to avoid hypotheticals - "if we build this feature, would you pay for it", these answers are typically unreliable... you're better off spending your time trying to uncover how BIG the problem is for the user with "what's the hardest part about", "what is your least favorite part of". These are just a few tips that have yielded results for me in the past... I'd love to help with your scripts or hear what's worked well for you in the past!
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