What to do in situations where an in-depth interview is not going according to plan?

Hello, Khabrovites. We share with you an article, the author of which is Sergey Koloskov, teacher course “Product Manager of IT projects”.

Also, on the eve of the start of the course, we invite future students and everyone who wishes to attend an online webinar on the topic “CustDev for the fastest test of an idea”

The post covers the main situations when the interview does not go according to plan.

Situation 1: the respondent talks about everything except what is needed

– Once you understand that the respondent is not answering your question, carefully intervene and ask the question again or reformulate it.

– If this does not work, then it is worth in an explicit but gentle form to indicate to the respondent what exactly you are interested in:

Let’s go back a bit. See I asked you about [о чем был вопрос]… You answered me [краткий пересказ слов респондента]… I would like to hear about [назвать ситуацию или конкретный этап процесса, о котором хотите узнать подробнее]…

Situation 2: the respondent answers in monosyllables, without disclosing details

– Show the respondent that you expect to hear a detailed answer:

What has happened since the moment you decided [купить квартиру] and until the moment when [оформили ипотеку]? Let’s go straight through the steps.

– If the details are still scarce, say what you heard from the respondent, wait for confirmation or new additions from his side and ask him to tell in more detail about what interests you.

Situation 3: new details gradually appear in the story, in which both the interviewer and the respondent are lost

– For you and the respondent to understand each other exactly, you need to simplify the process of sharing information. For example, sketch on a piece of paper all the managers, the names of all the products and companies that are important to the story, and ask the respondent to show who or what he is talking about.

Situation 4: a question invented “on the go” leads the respondent into a discussion of an unimportant topic

– Feel free to take a break so that you have time to “digest” new information and think about the question:

I want to understand a little and understand what you were doing. Do I understand correctly that you [озвучиваете, как вы поняли, что респондент вам сообщил]…

I’ll formulate a question in a second.

– While you are saying these phrases and pause, ask yourself: are the details given by the respondent enough for you, or do you need to ask additional questions? Can you use what you hear to describe a problem or make recommendations?

– Based on your thoughts, formulate a suitable question and do not forget to evaluate how close the wording is to what you really wanted to know.

Situation 5: the structure of the questionnaire creates a framework for the conversation that interferes with the respondent’s reasoning

– Ask the questions you are interested in as soon as the respondent raised the topic: do not wait for the moment when the discussion of the topic is scheduled in the questionnaire.

– Prepare the respondent for the fact that in the discussion you will go through the entire process under study in stages or steps, and precede each semantic block of questions with explanations:

We will discuss the whole process with you [покупки товара] step by step, from the moment you realized what you want [приобрести товар], before the start of use. Now we will talk about [называете первый шаг процесса]…

– Consider changing the order of the questions for the next interviews to match the logic of the respondent’s story.

Situation 6. Silent respondent

Sometimes the respondent comes across completely taciturn. Here we should talk about the value of this conversation. Tell who you are and why this is happening now. That is to say, to interest the respondent. Move target aside and build personal contact.

Situation 7. Insecure respondent

It happens that the respondent gives vague answers to each question. Yes and no, and so and so. Perhaps this is even very good. The respondent may have different experiences and it is worth digging deeper here. Ask about each option separately, why yes, why not. Ask for examples of all situations.

Situation 8. Talkative respondent

After the question, the respondent goes aside and gives completely useless information. Sometimes it’s even impossible to stop them, and the interview time is ticking. Here it is important to skillfully stop the respondent. For example, offer to discuss this later.

How to probe a product when there is an idea, using an interview

1. Go through business social networks (Linkedin, Facebook, for example)

1.1 Fill in a profile with relevant business niche content so that you can communicate with a suitable segment of people (from the USA, including)

1.2 The segment can be chosen like this: make a list of the highest paid professions of all who work in this segment for Senior positions

1.3 Find thematic groups / employees from the required companies and positions

1.4 Prepare a commercial offer for them within the framework of the idea, invite them to coffee and a presentation: “I want to create a useful software product that solves real problems in your specialty. This requires a 20-minute interview. “

1.5 When about 10 people from each segment agree to talk, a 20-30 minute interview can be organized. The fact that senior level specialists agree to talk is already an important signal for testing an idea.

1.6 Try to sell the solution already at the meeting: ask what is most important in the decision, how much it can cost and whether the respondent can pay now.

1.7 If the idea is confirmed and strengths and weaknesses are identified, a designer can be hired. With the designer, you can create a presentation, a landing page, a working prototype, in which you can already work out key scenarios for using the product, including payment.

1.8 We also repeat the collection of respondents. We already show them a presentation, screenshots of a supposedly working product and find out if the specialist is ready to buy it, how much is he willing to pay.

1.9 Only after there is a clear confirmation that the invented concept solves a real problem, you can make the first version of the product with bad code and wrong architectural solutions.

1.10 Promote the product through content marketing and the same LinkedIn.

Register for an online webinar on the topic “CustDev for the fastest test of an idea.”

We also recommend telegram channel the author of the article.


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