User Interviews

Have a conversation with a user about a product or design to gather insights and opinions.
Number of ParticipantsFacilitatorsCategoryDurationLevel of Difficulty
1 or More1 ModeratorEmpathize Phase20-60minSimple


A User interview is a guided conversation to collect qualitative data from participants. Participants may be previous, current, or desired future users of your product or service. There are 3 main types of User Interviews:

  • Structured (formal) Schedule of questions, strict order and wording
  • Semistructured Guide of questions, key points/topics
  • Unstructured (informal conversation) Guide of broad themes


  • Interview Guide
  • Audio/Video recording device
  • Pen & Paper for note taking
  • Video Conferencing software (remote interviews)


  • Establish a research goal
  • Identify and recruit participants
  • Develop an interview guide
  • List key topics and main questions
  • Revise interview guide with feedback from team members
  • Choose an appropriate environment
  • Assign roles (e.g. Interviewer, Notetaker)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Establish rapport: sit face to face, ensure comfort, build trust and security, show interest in story, do not show judgement.
  2. Introduce researchers and study, why participant was chosen, interview procedure, address privacy issues, request consent for interview and recordings.
  3. Set and follow a time limit
  4. Ask question and use prompts and follow up questions to dig deeper.
  5. Before concluding interview, ask the participant if they have anything additional to say, and/or if they have any questions of their own.

Remarks, Tips, Limitations

  • Ask open questions
  • Ask follow up questions
  • Search for stories
  • Ask about their perception
  • Leave room for silence
  • Do not intimidate the interviewee
  • Do not ask leading questions
  • Do not ask for future predictions


Book: Interviewing Users by Steve Portigal:
Article: Get better data from user studies: 16 interviewing tips
Video (22 min): Yale University – Fundamentals of Qualitative Research Methods: Interviews

Contributed by Andrejs Pantelejevs and Roberto De Oliveira.