The interview is one of the most critical parts of the UI/UX process. Your goal is to solicit honest feedback, so you need to avoid leading questions and other such pitfalls. You also need to set your interviewee at ease, as a stressed or apprehensive subject is more likely to try to appease the interviewer with their answers. Here are 5 simple steps to set the right tone for UI/UX interview success:
1. It's an Interview not an Interrogation
Try not to have more than two people in a room during an interview. Three or more people can place the interviewee in a defensive position, which can dramatically reduce the honesty of their responses. A single interviewer is best when trying to drive a conversation, but often we want to make sure there are multiple people to get different perspectives.
If you have two interviewers, try to define specific roles so that one becomes the dominant presence and the second the observer for a given question. These roles can be swapped for subsequent questions, but should never overlap.
2. Make the Environment Comfortable
Think about the last time you had a comfortable chat with a close friend and the environment in which it happened. This is what you want to recreate with your interviewee.
Try not to sit on opposite ends of a table, as it creates a physical barrier between the two of you. Instead, sit on the same side of the table or at a couch or similar. Depending on the nature of the interview, consider taking a walk around the block while recording the conversation (with their permission, of course).
3. Empower through Gratitude
Start the conversation by sharing how grateful you and your company are for their time and how much you are benefiting from their answers. You want to empower the person you are interviewing and give them a sense of control immediately. The best insights come from putting the interviewee in charge and letting them take the lead.
4. All Answers are the "Right Answer"
Emphasize from the start that there are no wrong answers. You want to eliminate any sense that the interviewee will be judged on their answer and make them feel safe. Reinforce this periodically to create an environment where they feel that anything they say will be of value.
5. Your First 3 Questions Set the Tone
Your first three questions set the tone of the conversation, so try and make them light and easy. Ask for the interviewee’s thoughts on a topic related to your product, about their work, or even about the local sports team (just make sure you don't ask about politics or religion!). The more honest your curiosity is, the better the person will respond.
Don’t ever jump right into the interview or start with difficult or complicated questions. Ease into the interview and pace your questions so that you intersperse hard questions with lighter, easier ones.
Want to learn more strategies for effective UI/UX interviews? Here's how to avoid leading questions in your interviews.