How to do a qualitative interview without dying in the effort?

Second stage: exploration

How to do a qualitative interview without dying in the effort. Explanation of the exploring tool.
In the exploration phase, when solving a problem using Design Thinking, we put ourselves in the shoes of the users facing that problem, understand how and why they act and are related to the framework of work. We also identify the areas of opportunity and give them a solution, thus providing value to our user.

This phase is very important because we are used to going from the problem to the solution directly. In Design Thinking, it is necessary to make a parenthesis that allows us to understand the problem from different points of view. In this way, we avoid applying our cognitive bias as a result of our experience when it comes to solving.

Here, we must understand the needs and motivations of our user, in addition, that will help us to gather information. The objective of this research is to inspire our design, learning, and understanding the person for whom we design.

It is important that you solve the following questions here:

  • Who is my client?
  • Where is he or she?
  • What worries him or her?

The result of this research is a challenge that we will come up in the next phase, that is, our design challenge.


The interviews will serve to inspire our design. We need to understand how our users relate to the framework and what their primary motivations are in this context.

We recommend carrying out the interviews in pairs, the questioner and the one who take notes of everything, what is said and what is seen (attitude of the interviewee towards the questions) or they can be recorded and then transcribed. In that case, first ask for permission. It is advisable, before starting to build the guide, to make these three divergences (in relation to the research objectives):

  • What do we know?
  • What are we assuming?
  • What do we not know and we would like to know?

How many interviews should we do by type of informant? Between 7 and 8. With this number, we should found patterns that inspire our design.

  • An interview is not a survey, it is a conversation. We do not want ‘yes or no answers’.
  • If they respond with yes or no, we ask why or why not. That is where the essence of their behavior lies.
  • We want them to tell us stories and anecdotes to understand what is happening, what they think, how they act, and why.
  • We must collect the answers as they are, without interpreting, textual.
  • The attitude of the interviewer is to listen, listen, and listen.
  • During the interview, the guide is basically that, a guide. The interview should flow, always keeping in mind our objectives and the information we seek.
  • While researching, it is important to maintain an attitude of observation and learning, to not take things for granted, or expect the interviewee to validate our own opinions or ideas.
  • At this moment, it is better to sin of naive questioning and deepening than to venture to suppose or to interpret.
  • We do not judge the comments of the interviewee, whether they fit us or not.
  • We do not look for data. We look for relevant information. The data becomes another source of information that must be interpreted to become qualitative information.

The structure of the interview is as follows:

  1. Introduction: introduce yourself and explain what you are doing the interview for.
  2. Warm up: to break the ice and build trust, talking about his previous experience in this context, looking for anecdotes. Let’s go from the simple to the trunk of memories, so we continue to generate confidence. That way, to answer they will not have to build something from scratch. These are things that have happened to us.
  3. Complex questions: in this part, we will ask about more motivational, aspirational, and philosophical aspects of our framework. We are interested in knowing how our user defines and understands them. This part is more thoughtful for the interviewee and for the interviewer. The interviewer has to be aware of how to continue if a thread from which to throw appears or how to modify the question to inspire the interviewee if it is blocked. And the interviewee has to travel inside to give an answer. It is necessary to know how to handle the silences during the interviews, since many times our interlocutor needs to assimilate the question and build the answer.
  4. Closure: space for the interviewee to add what he wants if he has something to add and gratitude.

Our in-depth interview template collects all this approach using premises that will help you to focus it. It is very useful when designing the interview and do not forget anything.

We recommend that you watch this video where Erika Hall explains the importance of asking “why?” in an interview.

Published at 02/02/2019

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