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Individual Interviews

In individual interviews, an interviewer talks with one user for 30 minutes to an hour. Individual interviews allow you to probe their attitudes, beliefs, desires, and experiences to get a deeper understanding of the users who come to your site. You can also ask them to rate or rank choices for site content.  These interviews can take place face-to-face, by phone or video conference, or via instant messaging system.

When to Conduct Individual Interviews

Ideally, interviews take place at the start of the development cycle while you are developing or reviewing the objectives and goals of the site.

You may also use interviews to supplement online surveys. Performing an interview before a survey helps you to refine questions for the survey.  Interviewing participants after a survey allows you to probe for details and reasons behind answers that users give on a survey

Best Practices for Conducting Individual Interviews

When you conduct an Individual Interview, consider:

  • What you want to learn and then selecting representative participants to talk to
  • Writing an interview protocol for the interviewer to follow. The protocol includes questions and probes to use for follow-up
  • Hiring a skilled interviewer who knows how to make interviewees feel more comfortable, asks questions in a neutral manner, listens well, and knows when and how to probe for more details
  • Getting permission to tape the sessions and have one or more note takers

How Individual Interviews Differ from Other Methods

Since these interviews do not involve watching a user work, they are different from interviewing users in a usability test or conducting contextual interviews.

man and woman in an interview

Individual interviews resemble focus groups because they involve talking with users but they differ for because in individual interviews you:

  • Talk to only one person at a time
  • Have more time to discuss topics in detail
  • Do not have to worry about the group dynamics that inevitably occur in focus groups
  • Can give the interviewee your full attention and adjust your interviewing style to your interviewee’s needs