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User Research - Interview

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Insight on experience conducting interviews - The process of interviewing is a craft and needs experience and skill to make it effective. As a novice in this user research technique, I realized the importance of thorough preparation, formulating and practicing for unseen situations, creating a strong backup plan. A good interview requires a good amount of listening. It was very difficult for me in my first interview to ask a question and then silently wait for an answer. My natural tendency pushed me to provide some input starting point to the interviewee. Understanding the concept of silence and listening in an interview was a learning experience. On a few occasion the answers from the interviewee strayed off topic. In such cases I had to show considerable interest and appropriately interjected with a question to get the discussion on course. Interviews include real people and real situations so it is very important that the interviewer doesn’t become judgmental or opinionated towards the participants answers or reactions. While conducting the interview the interviewer needs to be neutral and even toned. Saying a please and thank you more than once goes a long way in making people feel valued for this time and feedback. Sincerity in acknowledgment made people comfortable and they opened up faster.
Suggestions - One of the challenges of user research is that it depends on the contributions of interviewed and your interpretation of it. Improving communication skills expands your toolset, providing you with more reliable and versatile ways of working with people. Have a well-documented plan detailing all your steps including your introduction, closure of interview. Have a checklist to keep track of small but important things like equipment to record interview, maps and direction. Incentive can often be used to increase user interest and participation. Pilot testing often eliminates “author’s bias” wherein the author never finds a fault with his script. Feedback from pilot testing also helps understand non-verbal communication like body language, facial expression and overall presentation style and improve accordingly. Conducting a user research can be intimidating in the beginning but experience and proper preparation can make it an exciting process

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