Episode 2. How to start a user research interview

Doing user research means talking to people you have never met before. Starting those conversations can be hard and it can be especially hard if you are not talking in person. Here are some things you can do to make that a more comfortable experience.

How do we start a user research interview?

Michael has been speaking to people who use his app and wants to know how to best start those conversations. He has been speaking to his app users online. Starting the conversations has often felt like the hardest bit. Sometimes due to the tech itself and sometimes due to general awkwardness that can happen when you are talking to someone for the first time.

We had a chat about it in this episode and thought it would be useful to write down some of the points. The focus is on starting a conversation and we don’t go into any depth on user research itself either in the episode or in these notes.

Allow time for the setup. Making sure you and your participant are comfortable and you have established some rapport is a really important basis for a good conversation later. Here are some steps you can follow:

“Manners are an under-recognised tool”

Ivanka
  1. Your conversation begins as soon as you start arranging the meeting. Give people an idea of the tech requirements how long you will be talking to them is useful. “It would be great if we could both have video on and if you could be somewhere where you won’t be disturbed for the hour.” Set their expectations of how long you will be talking and when you are likely to finish. State that there might be technical shenanigans. Set that expectation for both yourself and the other person.
  2. You need to prepare.
    • Tech: Is your tech working? What can you do to help your participant resolve any tech issues? Do you have a back-up plan? Are you happy to go ahead with the conversation if the audio or video is bad? Would it be better to rearrange? How are you going to say that?
    • Words: How comfortable are you feeling? Do you know what you are going to say? Have you practiced? Have you practiced saying everything out loud? Write a script practice until you feel comfortable.
  3. Starting the meeting. Be early. Confirm you are all set and everything is working. When your guest arrives take the time to say hello. There is a human and a technology aspect to this and which comes first may not be within your control.
    • Human check-in. Ask them how they are and how their day has been. Re-state expectations. “As I already mentioned in the invitations, I have allowed an hour for this conversation, is that still OK for you? We definitely won’t overrun but I imagine we will fill most of the hour.” If the tech isn’t working well enough for you to do this bit skip to 4. and come back here later.
    • Tech check-in. “Everything seems to be working well for me I can see and hear you very well. Is everything OK your end?” OR “I can’t hear you very well. How are things for you? You don’t have your video on, would you mind switching it on?”
  4. Pause before you start. “I think we are ready to start talking about X now if that’s ok with you? Do you have any questions before we start?”

Good luck! This will all become easier with practice.

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