How to Ask the Right Questions for a Successful UX Research Interview

UX research interviews are effective tools for gathering data to improve user experience. Read our guide to find out how to ask the right questions and conduct successful user interviews for your app.

When developing a new application or redesigning an existing one, UX research can be a powerful tool for gaining insight into users’ wants and needs. 


Erin Sanders, a design researcher at Frog, developed a five-step process for conducting UX research called the Research Learning Spiral. The steps are as follows:


  1. Objectives: Determining gaps in knowledge that need to be filled.
  2. Hypotheses: Establishing what you believe to be true. 
  3. Methods: Deciding on the best method for conducting UX research.
  4. Conduct: Using the selected method to gather data.
  5. Synthesize: Organizing, analyzing, and applying the information received from that data. (CareerFoundry, 2021)


In the context of app development, those five steps are crucial for conducting successful research into the user experience. The method we are focusing on in this article is the UX research interview, which is a useful way to receive honest and direct feedback from your app’s target users, due to its one-on-one nature.


Why Are UX Research Interviews Necessary?

To create a strong and effective app, it’s important to design with your ideal user in mind: consider their purpose for using your app, the pain points they may encounter, and the functionalities they will need. Conducting UX research interviews with members of your target audience can help you develop a plan for creating the most effective user experience. 


For existing apps, the data acquired from UX research interviews can provide insights that will help you make improvements to the program, based on what is and isn’t working for your users.


For new apps in development, feedback from your ideal audience can steer the design process in a more user-friendly and productive direction. 


A UX interview is not meant to confirm existing biases or assumptions, but rather to create a space for honest feedback from the individuals who will be using your app the most. The key is to learn something new and then apply that knowledge to develop solutions for your app.  


What Questions Do You Ask in a UX Research Interview?

You know you need to conduct a UX Research Interview, you’ve decided on the interview method, and you’ve selected your participants, but how do you determine the right questions to ask? 


The answer to this depends in part on your industry or market. Certain types of questions may not be relevant to your application and your audience, while other questions may be crucial to developing an app in your specific niche. For instance, a fitness app may require an interview question regarding the user’s average daily activity level, but a logistics app would have no use for that kind of information.  


Regardless of your industry, you should have a few clear goals in mind when developing the questions for a UX research interview. Consider your reason for conducting these interviews - is there a particular problem you need to solve? Are you uncertain about a particular feature in your app? Looking for ways to streamline your app’s functionality? Make sure to tailor your questions to your goals in order to gather the most useful information. 


Additionally, be sure to include open-ended questions as opposed to “yes or no'' questions. Closed questions may limit your scope of data, while open-ended questions allow participants to speak freely and share information you might have missed previously. 


It’s also important to not ask leading questions, or questions that contain biased phrasing. An example of a leading question would be, “What feature is your favorite in this app? Was it the tracking tool, or maybe the resource database?” When a leading question is asked, a user may feel pressured or obligated in answer in a specific way, which negates the validity of the information you gather. 


Below you’ll find a list of example questions we’ve compiled for user interviews regarding app development. Use these questions as a starting point for developing your own.


UX Research Interview Questions - User Demographics & Needs

  • What is your age?
  • What is your occupation? 
  • What area do you live in?
  • Why did you begin using this app?
  • What expectations did you have before using this app?
  • What challenges were you wanting to overcome with this app?
  • What goals were you wanting to achieve with this app?


UX Research Interview Questions - Usage Habits

  • Which applications do you typically use the most?
  • On which device do you normally access this app?
  • How frequently do you use this app, and for how long at a time?
  • What time of day do you usually use this app?
  • Which tools do you use the most on this app?


UX Research Interview Questions - App Feedback

  • Which features do you like most about the app?
  • Which features do you like least about the app? 
  • Which feature is missing from the app?
  • Which feature do you find most useful for your needs?
  • What are your biggest pain points while using this app?


Tips for a Successful UX Research Interview

A well-done UX research interview can be an incredibly beneficial resource for the app development process, and asking the right questions is key for unlocking those benefits. 


While it’s important to be thorough and well-prepared, it is equally as important to be flexible if necessary. You may have your questions planned out to the letter, but a user’s answers may lead the interview in a slightly different direction, which has the potential to provide some creative and unexpected insights. 


Another rule of thumb for writing questions and conducting a UX interview is to focus more on the user and their experience rather than on the app itself. Ask the user what they need, not what they think the app should do.


Finally, go into the interview with an open mind instead of assumptions! Determine your goals and prepare your questions, but also keep in mind that the purpose of a UX research interview is to receive as much honest feedback as possible about the user experience, in order to then develop solutions to improve that experience. 


Once you finish your user interviews, you can analyze the responses, find patterns in the data, and use the insights gained to develop a plan for moving forward with your application.

Alexa Ballenger

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