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How To Conduct User Research Interviews: Tips, Templates and Questions

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Users are the heart of any UI/UX design. Before the design process can begin, user interviews can provide designers with a framework to accumulate information and knowledge about the context of a problem. The first step to charting a successful UX design strategy is to be able to successfully identify the user’s motivation, behaviour, or needs through observation, analysis, and feedback methods. By conducting user interviews and correctly identifying the problem, the UX researcher ensures that solutions are created for the problems that matter. The last thing you want is to solve the wrong problem!

Whether you are a seasoned UX researcher, or a new newcomer seeking a user research career, this guide on How To Conduct User Research Interviews offers suggestions for the structure of your exercise as well as some tips and guidelines when designing your UX interviews and UX testing.

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UX design interview questions ought to help you excavate what your user thinks about a particular design solution. You might choose to undertake UX interviews at different stages of the design process. Depending on the stage of the design process you are in, the interviews can serve different purposes. The objective could either be about validating a particular hypothesis using a prototype, testing if your design actually brings the intended value, identifying existing problems in your product, or understanding how people interact with similar products as part of analysing your competitor.

Recruiting Interview Participants

Recruiting the right participants for your user interviews is crucial to ensure that they accurately represent your target end-users so that the results can be translated into products that are relevant to them. The participants selected should contain the characteristics of your target users.

To do so, a pre-interview questionnaire is crafted to filter out participants accordingly. It is important to also filter out those who may bring biases e.g. market researchers/marketers. Brief the participants what is the time commitment and reward for participating in the research.

Structuring your UX research interview questions

What are some questions to ask in a UX design interview? There are a couple of ways one can structure your session. One possible flow is as follows: 1) Understanding user impressions or expectations; 2) User testing particular tasks; 3) End-of-session follow-up questions

1. Understanding impressions or expectations
The aim of these questions is to understand what sentiments users have towards the product, feature, or interface.

  • What do you think about as you look at this?
  • What is your impression of this?
  • What do you think the product does?
  • When will someone use this?
  • What do you hope to gain from the use of this product?
  • What stops you from using this product?
  • When and where do you think someone will feel

More specific, goal-driven questions can also be considered:

  • Descriptive: Could you walk me through your purchase decision as a customer?
    (Experience-based answer shared in a form of a story)
  • Intuitive: What frustrates you the most during the purchase process?
    (Watch for shifts in emotional tone and facial expression)
  • Validation driven: Does this product solve the problem you just described in the specific situation?
    (Yes/No. Why not?)
  • Data-driven: How often would you hire this product to get the job done? (Frequency-based response)
    On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely will you recommend this product to a friend? (Metric based response)
  • Comparative: What are the pros and cons of a competitor’s product?
    How are you dealing with (the problem)?
  • Open-ended: If I were to give you a magic wand to change anything in this product what will you change?

2. User testing particular tasks

During the session, you can also ask task-driven feedback questions or get your interviewees to perform specific tasks within the session. However, unlike the general questions from before, user testing questions require a product prototype for users to use or look through. Thus, this part is optional depending on the stage of the UX design process this interview is conducted at.

Some general task-driven questions are as follows:

  • How will you approach the task?
  • What did you expect to happen when you performed the task?
  • How else will you approach the task?
  • Did anything surprise you or fail to perform as expected?
  • Was the interface intuitive and easy to access and understand?
  • What was the most difficult task?
  • What was the simplest task?

Getting users to execute scripted tasks provide insights on the usability of the product and the user’s comprehension of the product’s interface. Weaving in scripted tasks within your session identifies issues related to user interactions with interfaces and confirming perceptions towards how the interface is used and how it works. Some examples include:

  • Locating information on a website or page.
  • Navigating from one point to another within the interface
  • Make edits to your profile
  • Record a video of yourself utilising the interface.

Take note of the number of tasks that your user completes or fails and ask your user to rate and provide feedback after every task. This could be done using scaled responses.

Photo from Adobe Stock

Be sure to ask your user the reason they responded with each rating as that will offer deeper insights on what they found easy or difficult. Especially when it comes to pain points, it is important to drill down to the reason why your user is frustrated with your interaction model or your design solution.

3. Ending the session

The end of your session is a good opportunity to allow your interviewee or user to provide overall thoughts about the product or feature.

  • Overall, how would you describe your experience?
  • What did you like or dislike about the product or feature?
  • Is there anything you would change about the product or feature?
  • Is there something you would like to see in our product or feature?

General tips on designing interview questions

Apart from the general structure of the session. It is also important to fully understand the manner in which questions are designed for your user testing.

1. Keep your questions open-ended

Design your questions such that it encourages answering more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Starting with ‘why’, ‘how’ is a good general rule of thumb. Aside from that, remember that you are asking for pain points and

2. Prepare follow-up questions

Remember that people are not always able to express their thoughts in the entirety with one question. Like a detective searching for clues, the researcher will need to ask further questions to get to the root of the problem or sentiment. For instance, when asking questions, there is a possibility that an interviewer might have a courtesy bias in giving polite answers instead of how they really feel.

3. Body language

Non-verbal communication can provide valuable information on how a user is feeling and provide data points to continue probing or asking questions. Regardless of the type of product or feature, always pay attention to the user’s facial expressions and body language. It might reveal sentiments that the user is not articulating. Note it down and follow up on any non-verbal communication to gain more insight into what a user was thinking or feeling while using a product

4. Keeping an arsenal of sentence starters that can help with the eliciting of certain responses

To get users to demonstrate how they would complete certain tasks below are some ways you can begin the sentence:

  • Talk me through…
  • Can you show me how/ show me how…
  • Imagine I am someone who knows nothing about the product, feature, or interface, could you guide me


In conclusion, understanding your objectives and being clear about the purpose of your UX research is critical in designing questions that can identify the problems faced by users. Since user research interview templates are widely available online, the more crucial takeaway is being able to implement UX research best practices in the context of your research, and adapting your UX research interview questions according to the stage of design you are at. Ultimately, every product or feature is unique and it is up to you to adapt templates to the specificities of your research!

We hope that this article has provided you with a better insight into the process of user interviews. If you want to know more about user experience and its industry, do check out our other resources available on our websites, such as our articles, weekly webinars, and podcasts.

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