‘Why don’t you call someone who cares?’ Definitely not the nicest thing you can say to someone but not the worst idea when it comes to user research. One of the most versatile and therefore commonly used methodologies in user research is the individual interview. The individual interview is just as the name implies — a one-on-one interaction between the interviewer and the participant.In order to have a successful interview, the interviewer needs to put the participant at ease and ask questions in a neutral manner, while at the same time staying in control of the conversation.
‘So wow, that seems like it could be pretty intense?’ And truth be told there are bad subjects to broach this way, but there is no better way to get preliminary insight at the beginning of a development cycle than through the individual interview. Individual interviews are also extremely flexible because it is just two people talking, so the questioning can be tailored throughout the conversation to adjust for varied responses.
‘But preparing for a conversation that could go so many ways seems very hard?’ This is a very common fallacy of one-on-one interviews. You do not need to have a separate set of specific questions for every possible direction the conversation could go, rather just a list of critical topics that need to be addressed in the conversation.
‘O.K., so now this seems so easy anyone could do it?’ This is another common fallacy. Learning the skills necessary to become a skilled interviewer takes time, and the right personality. In order to have a successful interview, the interviewer needs to put the participant at ease and ask questions in a neutral manner, while at the same time staying in control of the conversation.
‘So break it down for me. What do I need to know in order to decide if individual interviews are the way to go and if so how to get the most from them?’ There are three things you should keep in mind when tying to select your methodology and then planning your research:
1. What do you want to accomplish? If you are looking to understand attitudes, beliefs, desires and past experiences than individual interviews might be a great option for your research.
2. What specific question topics to you need to address? Remember individual interviews are more of a free flowing conversation rather than question and answer but you still need to ensure that you get the answers you need to further the development process.
3. Who should conduct the interviews? The interviewer needs to be instantly likable, detail-orientated to get through the questioning areas required, and able to control a rowdy participant if needed.
In short, hire a professional.