To get actionable data from a series of interviews, use a structured repeatable process. To get meaning feedback from a person, engage them in conversation.

Nuts and bolts

Mapping the discussion

  • Define what you are trying to learn from the interview
  • Test your prototype to make sure it’s error free and feels real
  • Write a high leave script, so you give the same information to all your interviewees
  • Test your recording and remote view setup before the you start
  • Have at least one other person taking notes

Conversation not interrogation

You’re excited about your new product. You’re looking forward to sharing your team’s work. Your interview will help you see though fresh eyes, and help you find the strengths and weaknesses of your design. Well, let them know you! Communicate your appreciation to them and show them you’re thankful for their time and attention.


Be a good host. Welcome them and thank them again for their help. Let them know you’re looking forward to their fresh perspective and encourage them to think out loud.


Break the ice. If your product will be used in a business process, ask them about their typical workday. If it’s a social media product, ask about when they like to share things online. If it’s a productivity app, ask about what frustrations they face from day to day. Set the stage for what you’re presenting and ask for their personal experience as it relates to your product.


There’s no right or wrong answers. Let your interviewee know they are testing you. If you’re working with a prototype, set expectations about what parts are functional.


Start with a primary task. Make what they are trying to do clear and concise. You’re going to want to help them, but now is the time to remain a neutral observer. Let them work it out. If they are truly stuck, a great why to prompt them to think out loud is to start to explain what to do and trail off. The silence may be a little uncomfortable, but it will prompt them to fill in the blank. e.g. “if you were looking for a way to open a new account, you would need to…”


Wrap it up. Replay parts of the test they either really enjoyed or were frustrated with. By talking though these parts, you can gather additional insight about how they were thinking and what impression they took away from the experience.

Thank You!

Thank your participant. If you are compensating for their time, make sure you have they payment ready.


If they were really hard on your product, ask if you can schedule an other interview for the next iteration of your design. If they loved it, ask if they are interested in becoming a beta tester.

Double Bonus

Being hard on your product and loving it are not mutually exclusive.