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Getting Insights From Users: A Product Manager’s Guide to Research Interviews

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You’re a product manager trying to understand how real users interact with your product. Research interviews are your secret weapon to get insights directly from the source so that . But what’s the best way to plan and conduct these interviews? How do you ask the right questions to uncover user needs? This guide has you covered with a step-by-step process for research interviews. You’ll learn how to recruit the right users, plan an effective interview script, and dig into the insights during analysis. With these tips, your next round of user interviews will unlock a goldmine of insights to inform your product strategy. Let’s get started.

Understanding User Research and Why It’s Important for Product Managers

As a product manager, you need to understand your users inside and out. Understand what they are looking at, their needs and wants. The best way to gain valuable insights into their behaviors, motivations, and pain points is through user research.

Interviewing Users

One of the most effective methods of user research is conducting one-on-one interviews. Sitting down with actual users and having an open and honest conversation about their experiences provides a level of depth and detail that surveys can’t match. During these interviews, try to understand:

  • How they currently use your product or similar products. What do they like? What’s frustrating?
  • Their goals and motivations. Why did they start using the product in the first place? What are they trying to achieve?
  • Where their pain points are. What problems do they frequently run into? What’s slowing them down or preventing them from being successful?
  • How they would improve the product. If they had a magic wand, what would they change or add?

Turning Insights into Solutions

The insights from these interviews are invaluable for building solutions your users will actually want and need. You’ll gain a much deeper sense of how to make their lives easier and their workflows more efficient. You may even uncover opportunities for new features you never considered before.

Conducting quality user research and leveraging those findings is what separates good product managers from great ones. While it requires an investment of time, the payoff of developing a product that truly fits your users’ needs is well worth the effort. 

Why you require these solutions

Your users will be happier, your product’s metrics will improve, and you’ll feel confident knowing you built something with real purpose and value.

Preparing for User Interviews: Crafting Effective Questions

Before you sit down with users, you need to figure out what you want to learn. Come up with a list of key questions you have about your product and how people are using it. Focus on open-ended questions that encourage detailed responses.

Stay away from yes/no questions and instead ask ‘how’ and ‘why’ to get meaningful insights. For example, instead of asking ‘Do you find the app useful?’ ask ‘How do you use the app and why is it useful to you?’

Some other question types to consider include:

  • Journey questions: ‘Can you walk me through how you accomplish X using our product?’
  • Frequency questions: ‘How often do you use feature Y and why?’
  • Pain point questions: ‘What don’t you like about the current experience?’
  • Ideal experience questions: ‘If you could change one thing about the product, what would it be?’

Test your questions with colleagues first.

Get feedback on whether the questions are clear and will lead to helpful responses. Revise as needed. It’s also a good idea to have follow up questions ready in case the conversation stalls or you want to probe deeper into a topic.

Once you have a list of 8-12 well-crafted questions, you’re ready to conduct your user interviews! Be sure to listen closely to responses and ask follow ups to gain valuable insights into how people are really using your product. The feedback you gain from user interviews is crucial for building a great experience.

Conducting User Interviews: Best Practices and Tips

When conducting user interviews, follow these best practices to gain valuable insights:

Prepare the right questions

Come prepared with a list of open-ended questions to encourage thoughtful responses from your participants. Ask about their experiences, frustrations, needs, and desires. Questions like “How do you currently do X?” or “What’s challenging about Y?” are great ways to start a conversation.

Listen actively

Pay close attention to what your participants say and how they say it. Notice their tone of voice, pauses, and body language. These cues can reveal deeper insights into their perspectives and pain points. Practice active listening by maintaining eye contact, nodding, and paraphrasing their responses to confirm your understanding.

Dig deeper

Don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions to gain a fuller picture of users’ experiences. Questions like “Can you tell me more about that?” or “What specifically do you mean by X?” help uncover details that can lead to meaningful discoveries. Look for opportunities throughout the interview to probe deeper into interesting topics.

Share context

Help participants provide more detailed responses by giving them additional context about your product or service. Explain the goals, key features or main value propositions. The more they understand about your offering, the more helpful and specific their feedback can be. But be careful not to bias their opinions – remain open to both positive and negative reactions.

Thank them!

Finally, express your gratitude for participants’ time and input. Let them know their contributions will help improve your product in a meaningful way. Thank you notes or small tokens of appreciation are always a nice gesture, especially for in-person interviews. Building goodwill with your users leads to a more collaborative long-term relationship.

Analyzing and Synthesizing Interview Findings

Once you’ve completed your interviews, it’s time to analyze what you learned. Go through your notes and recordings, looking for patterns and insights that emerge across multiple interviews. As you do, think about the key questions you aimed to answer and how people’s responses align with your product hypotheses.

Look for Common Themes

Are there challenges, needs, or desires that came up again and again? These are signals that you’ve found an area that’s important to your users. Note how people described these themes in their own words. The way they frame the issues can reveal how they think about them.

Identify Outliers

Pay attention to unique perspectives and experiences as well. Outliers often lead to creative solutions and help ensure you build a product that works for the diversity of your user base. An insight that only came up once may be worth exploring further.

Synthesize Your Findings

Organize your observations into groups based on the questions and topics covered in your interviews. Look for relationships between themes to develop a broad sense of key findings. Some insights may expand on or contradict your initial assumptions. Note how your thinking has evolved based on what you learned from real users.

Determine Next Steps

With a synthesized view of your interview findings, determine how to apply these insights to your product. Come up with new ideas or prioritize features on your roadmap. Plan follow-up research to gather additional feedback or explore open questions. Share your key takeaways with colleagues to align your team.

Interviewing users is invaluable for building products that actually meet people’s needs. By thoroughly analyzing what you heard from your research participants, you gain actionable insights to drive product decisions and make experiences that work for your customers. Keep an open and curious mindset – you never know which discoveries may lead to breakthroughs!

Applying User Research Insights to Influence Product Decisions

Now that you have valuable insights from your user interviews, it’s time to put them into action. As a product manager, your role is to be the voice of the customer. Share what you’ve learned with key stakeholders and explain how these learnings can shape upcoming product decisions.

Build Empathy Across Teams

Share interview highlights, quotes, stories, and key takeaways with others in your company, especially engineers and designers. Help them build empathy for the people who use your product. While they didn’t talk to users directly, these insights give them a window into the user experience. With increased empathy, teams can make better choices in building features and experiences customers will love.

Identify Opportunities for Improvement

Look for patterns in user feedback that point to potential issues or opportunities in your current product. Do multiple people struggle with the same task or experience the same frustration? These could indicate areas for improvement. Come prepared with suggestions for how to address them based on user ideas or best practices. Your recommendations will carry more weight if backed by real user data.

Provide Data to Win Stakeholders Over

When proposing changes, your user research findings are persuasive evidence. Discuss specific examples, statistics, quotes, and stories from your interviews to support your recommendations. Help stakeholders understand why certain features or improvements matter to customers. Their buy-in and support can help get resources and priority for the user-focused updates that will make a difference.

Keep an Ongoing Dialog

User research should be an iterative process, not a one-and-done activity. Continue sharing additional insights with your team as you conduct follow-up interviews or testing. Track how implemented changes impact the user experience over time. Solicit regular feedback to see if you’re still on the right track or if priorities need to shift based on the evolving needs of your customers. Keep the lines of communication open so user voices remain central to product decisions.


So there you have it – the basics of conducting great user research interviews. Getting inside the heads of your actual and potential customers is crucial for building products people want. While it takes some planning and practice, research interviews let you see your product through your users’ eyes. This gives you insights to create something truly life-changing. Just remember to keep an open mind, ask good questions, and listen closely. The rewards will be worth it. Now go out there, talk to some users, and start building the next big thing!