Resources to recruit and interview individuals about attitudes, beliefs, desires and experiences.

This was collated by Erin Richey at Known:

The documentation is released under a CC0 license:

When to use interviews:

  • When you're conducting needs finding

  • When you want to see how someone works in their environment

  • When you want to access the needs, tools, and workflows of your user or target customer

  • When you want to gather detailed information on attitudes, desires, and experiences from your user or target customer


  • Between 5 and 8 people is a good number to aim for when you're conducting a quick set of interviews

  • Schedule more people than you need to talk to. There's usually at least one person who forgets and runs into scheduling conflicts.

  • You may need to recruit from an existing user email list, from social networks, from family and friends, or from other interest groups.

  • If you're providing compensation of some sort, things like Amazon gift cards, prepaid debit cards, and Starbucks cards can be sent digitally.

  • If you're providing some form of compensation or reward in person, you may consider food (free lunch!), coffee/beverages, company swag, or checks ($$) as options.

Game Plan

  • Create a screener survey that you can post online or send around. Be sure to gather contact info, and follow up with anyone who you'd like to schedule for an interview.

  • Send a confirmation email to everyone you want to schedule telling them their interview time and explaining how they can join the interview (phone number, web link).

  • Prepare some questions for the interview. Consider starting with something more general and open-ended, then moving into questions that get more specific, and wrapping up with a "big change" question.

  • Ideally get at least two people involved to help with the interview: one person to ask the questions and one person to take notes.

  • Prepare audio and/or video solutions to record the interview.

  • Take time after the sessions to debrief and list out high-level thoughts.


  • With quick user interviews, you can pull a whole session together in a week.

  • Once you have your recruitment survey, allow between a few days to a week to recruit and schedule people.

  • During this time you can be writing your questions.

  • Ideally, you can schedule your interviews together in blocks.

  • If you expect to spend 15 minutes doing an interview, leave yourself a 30 minute window. If you expect to spend 30 minutes doing an interview, leave yourself a 45 minute window.

Confirmation Email

(Use this email template as a starting point to send to participants confirming the time and call number for your interview.)

Hi [participant name],

Thank you for your interest in having a conversation with us about [the care and feeding of pet gerbils].

We want to learn more about the tools and products that [gerbil owners] use, and we’d like to have a discussion with you to learn more about [your pet gerbil].

We have scheduled you for a conversation on the following date and time:

[Monday June 2nd, 2014]

[10:00 – 10:30 am Pacific Time]

If that time doesn’t fit with your schedule, please email me back, and I’ll arrange for a different time slot.

The conversation will be conducted via [a web conference number], so you can call in from your phone or on your computer. I will follow up shortly with an email that contains information on accessing and using the [web conference software] for the call.

After the discussion, we’ll send you [an awesome incentive] as a thank you for taking the time to talk with us.

If you have any questions, please contact me.



Sample Script for Interviewers

Hi, I’m [INTERVIEWER NAME], and sitting next to me is [NOTETAKER NAME].

Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today!

We’re doing a little research on [pet gerbils], and we want to learn more about the products that [gerbil owners] use when they [take care of their gerbils].

We wanted to have a quick conversation with you today and ask you about your experiences as a [gerbil owner]. Our call shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.

Do you mind if we record this call for our notes? The recording won’t be published or shared outside our team, it just helps us with our notetaking.

(Wait for confirmation before turning on the recording. If the participant doesn’t agree to the recording, continue without it.)

Great! To get started, could you think back to the last time you [fed your gerbil] and walk through the steps you took?

(To get started, get the participant to start describing some aspect of how they use whatever you’re studying. As the interview progresses, draw from your list of prepared probe questions. Use clarifying questions to gather more details around things they say. Don’t be afraid to ask about something you haven’t written down if they say something interesting.)

That’s it for my questions. Is there anything else that you’d like to add that I haven’t asked you about?

(Give the participant a chance to respond.)

Thank you so much for taking the time to have this conversation about [gerbils]. Your input has been very helpful.

I’ll be sending out your [awesome incentive] later today, so check your [email/mail/where ever it’s going].

Thank you again for your time!

Sample Questions for an interview

(Build a collection of questions to ask during your interview by taking these starters and customizing the information to fit what you’re studying. Remember, it’s better to stick with open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no response.)

Probe Questions

Tell me more about your xxx process.

How frequently do you xxx?

What computers or devices do you use when you’re xxx?

Why did you choose xxx as your tool for xxx?

What kind of challenges have you run into when using xxx?

What is your favorite part of using xxx for xxx?

Tell me about your most memorable experience while xxx.

Can you describe the social networks that you use for xxx?

How do you decide what to xxx?

Clarifying Questions

Tell me more about that.

Can you describe that?

How did you do that?

Why did you do that?

What was that like?

How often do you do that?

Where do you do that?

Final Wrap Up Questions

(Choose one or two to finish things off.)

What do you see as the biggest difficulty with xxx?

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for xxx?

If you could wave a magic wand and make one thing easier when you’re xxx, what would you change?

If you had to teach your colleague how to xxx what’s the most important thing you would focus on?

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