Here are 5 guidelines to master every customer interview (+ cheat sheet)

Interview tips Blog post

Here are 5 guidelines to master every customer interview

Everyone, including you & me, are inherently bad at predicting their behavior. So, we need to break away from traditional market research and never ask whether people will buy or not buy a solution. Acknowledging this is especially crucial when you’re working with early-stage ideas when not every aspect of your idea is crystal clear. (ex. business model, pricing, user experience, feature, … ). Asking blunt feedback, “would you use this concept” always leads to bad investment decisions. 

f. ex. Imagine I would show you a concept picture of a flashy red, sporty car and explain that this car will be the coolest car you’ll ever drive. If I asked you the question: “Would you buy this?”, there’s a good chance you’d say yes. But if I come back to you a year later with the final product, a 200K Ferrari that indeed looks cool but comes with its unique set of limitations (f. ex. where do you put your kid’s car seat?), there’s a good chance you’d reconsider your original answer.

That’s why in an interview, you should always focus on the underlying behavior & motivations while actively listening to your consumer. It’s crucial to always start with the beginner’s mindset.

In this article, you’ll find: 

  • Our five best tips for a successful customer interview
  • An interview template sheet you can use to kill your next interview

Download our cheat sheet to kill your next interview!

Shut up and listen

An obvious one, right? Well, not necessarily. There is a difference between hearing what the other person says and active listening. Many people are already thinking of an answer while their counterpart is speaking. This causes them not to listen to what is being said. You might not like this, but your opinion doesn’t mean anything here, so it’s not necessary to share it either. You’ll miss out on so many little nuggets by not focusing on the person in front of you. Just listen and grab the input you need! 
 
But listen actively with these three listening techniques
 
  • Mirroring: Repeat the last three words your interviewee said and make it sound like a question. Normally,  the person will elaborate and rephrase what they just said. You might think it’s obvious you’re using this technique, but they won’t notice! Don’t believe us? Try it out with your friends or partner.
  • Labeling: Pinpoint the emotion of your interviewee in a statement. Use expressions like ‘It feels like…, It seems like…, it sounds like… ‘ to start your sentence. For instance, when someone is angry about another traffic jam, you can say: It sounds like you’re frustrated. This simple label will reduce that negative emotion.
  • Summarising:  Repeat what your interviewee said in your own words. When you do this, your interviewee will see that you listened closely and understood what they were trying to say. Joe Rogan, the standup comedian, and host of the Joe Rogan Experience Podcast, does this when he interviews people.

Ask why five times

Try to ask mainly open questions during the interview. Go for questions that start with the 5 w’s and the h: why, what, who, when, where and how. When your interviewee answers one of your questions, ask them why again. Not one, not twice but five times. Why you ask 😉 ? When we give our initial answer to a question, we think of the most obvious part of a problem. By asking why repeatedly, we get past the symptoms of a problem and go straight to the underlying issue or the root cause. Once you have identified the root cause, you know what problem you need to solve.

Avoid leading questions

A leading question is a question that guides the respondent towards a pre-determined answer. When interviewing (potential) customers, you want to know more about their actions and thoughts to validate (or invalidate) the assumptions you made. Leading questions result in biased answers because you are already suggesting an opinion. They make it difficult for your interviewee to express another opinion. So the data you gather does not represent their thoughts and can’t be used.

Here are some examples:

  • “When would you like to sign up for our subscription box?”
  • “Do you think diapers should be in your subscription box”?
  • “Do you believe it is a good idea to …”

Download our full Interview Guide now!

Dare them to dream

Ask your interviewee the following question: “If you could dream, and there would be no restrictions, what would the perfect solution look like for you?”

The answer to this question will probably be something impossible. So, don’t take it literally but see it as a guideline or a new idea to discover.

End with open doors

The end of your interview shouldn’t be the end. When you asked all the questions you prepared, end with the following 2 questions.

  • “Is there anything I forgot to ask that is important for me to know?”
  • “Do you know anyone who could be interesting to interview on this topic?”

By asking this, you allow them to share their final thoughts. It also opens the door to questions or problems you didn’t even consider.

That’s it for our best five customer interview tips. If you apply all of these, your interview will be great. To help you, even more, we created a customer interview sheet. Find it above!

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