Module 1: User Discovery & Needfinding
Framing Great Questions
Why should you use this method?
- Helps setting up the right set of questions to guide you through your interview
- Helps you connect with your interviewee and evoke deep personal stories
- Help you to uncover hidden values, motivations and contradictions of your interviewee
- Gain a deep understanding of your interviewee
What are the characteristics of a great question?
Because the way we frame a question has huge effects on the interviewed party, framing well is key when you want to uncover your users' motivations based on what they say. The objective of doing an interview is to gain a deep understanding of people's needs and aspirations.
You can frame a good question by following this checklist:
- The question is simple (=your interviewee can answer it)
- Only asking one question at a time
- Aiming for a long answer
- The question does not bias or influence the interviewee to answer in a certain way
- You avoid brainstorming for solutions
You do not ask about the interviewee's surroundings
- “What did your co-worker say to you about this topic? “ instead of “What does your co-worker think about this topic?”
- “What do you expect from the product?” instead of “What qualities do people in your field expect from the product?”
- Use a tone and words that fit the context and your relation to the interviewed party
As a good rule of thumb: The weaker the relationship, the more polite and formal you should be.
Stick to these suggestions above and your interviews will generate even better insights and results! Don’t be afraid to ask embarrassing questions as long as you frame your questions properly and ask them at the right time.
How can you frame questions?
During an interview, you can ask your user different types of questions. In particular, when you are looking to reveal more about an answer given by your interviewee, you might want to choose one kind of question over another. The five kinds of interview questions below can help you uncover your users' needs and behaviors.
In an interview, aim for a mix of different questions.
Indirect questions: Are a politer way to ask for an answer and often include "If".
- If you would be in this situation, how would you …?
Probing and specifying questions: Encourage deeper thoughts about a specific topic.
- How did you react to this?
Follow-up questions: Get the interviewee to elaborate on his/her answer.
- Could you elaborate on that?
- You mentioned, … can you tell me more about that?
- What happened then?
- Can you describe what it felt like?
- Can you give an example?
- Is there anything else you would like to share about__?
Interpreting questions: Validate your interpretation of an earlier statement/ answer given by the interviewee.
- Did I understand correctly that you mean X with your statement?
Direct questions: Are phrased as directly related to the topic of the research. They are best to be left at the end of the interview, to avoid influencing the direction of the conversation.
- Are you happy with the tool? What do you think of the colors?
Avoid common mistakes
When you frame your questions and create an interview guide, take care you avoid common mistakes:
- Don’t include too many closed-ended and short-answer questions. If you use them, solely aim to include them during the warm-up of the interview.
- Avoid questions that ask basic information, the information you could have easily found out through other means, like an online search.
- Avoid asking irrelevant questions that don’t contribute to the overarching questions.
- Ask for specific and concrete examples, instead of mere summaries.
- Keep a neutral and non-biased tone of voice, so the participant does not feel less competent, stupid, or not valued.
- Avoid leading questions that include an assumption that might not be true, or which influences the participants' answer.
What’s up next?
Use this tips and tricks to formulate an interview guideline and conduct a successful interview.
notepad, pen or pencil