6 Mistakes When Crafting Interview Questions

Summary: How you ask questions in a user interview impacts the reliability and utility of the data you collect. Here are 6 ways you can improve your interview questions.

User interviews are a fantastic method to uncover information about your users’ experiences, backgrounds, needs, and desires. That being said, writing interview questions requires some thought and attention. Questions that might be fit for a questionnaire are not always appropriate for a user interview. And poorly constructed questions can confuse participants or lead to inaccurate reporting of thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires and, hence, result in invalid insights. This article highlights 6 common mistakes in drafting interview questions and suggests how to improve them.

#1 Starting with Questions that Should Be Asked in a Screener Survey

Some new interviewers want to know many facts about their participants and end up with an interview guide full of closed questions . For example, imagine that we’re conducting research on people’s experiences cooking at home. It can be tempting to ask lots of questions like these at the beginning of your interview:

In the context of a user interview, the questions above would be considered closed questions, in that there are only a few possible responses to each of these questions. (Of course, some participants might interpret closed questions as open-ended questions and offer further explanation). The problem with having many closed questions like these at the beginning of the interview is that they don’t allow participants to share stories about their experiences and they hamper your ability to build rapport with your participant. The other issue with asking closed questions instead of open-ended ones is that you don’t learn things that you didn’t think to ask !

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