Ethnographic Interviews

Why interviewing people in their environment is crucial. Includes a guide for conducting them.

Ethnographic interviews help us understand users in their own environment, the problems they face, and how they face them.

The main goal here is to listen and avoid injecting your own bias into the project. Let the person you’re interviewing speak much more than yourself.

Once you’re done, synthesize your insights and share them out with your client. Some good talking points:

  • What lined up
  • What diverged
  • What patterns emerged
The big idea here is to stay quiet and listen to the person. It’s okay to add in clarifying questions (e.g. “could you say more” or “what led you to that?”), but otherwise let them take the lead.
- Date
- Name
- Department

Takeways & observations #

List learnings and outputs

Questions #

  1. E.g. could you walk me through your day yesterday?
  2. E.g. what part of your job do you find makes you grumpiest?
  3. E.g. if you could wave a magic wand, what would you change to make your job easier?

Answers #

Write interviewee's answers

Resources #

Useful screenshots, screencasts, website references.

Script #

Intro #

Hi, my name is your name. I work with company. Our team is doing research to improve our work by better understanding real people like you. This should take no more than e.g. 15 minutes.

Do you mind if we record this call for note taking purposes only? The recording will not be published or shared outside our team.

[Optional 30 seconds chat about weather and/or sports]

The questions #

Now, walk me through your day yesterday in as much detail as possible. Don’t worry about boring me, I want to know everything.

Next, tell me what parts of your job make you grumpiest.

Okay, finally, tell me: if you could wave a magic wand, what would you change to make your job easier?

Wrap-up #

That’s it from me. Is there anything you would like to add?

Thank you so much for your time. Your input has been very helpful. Is [e-mail address] the right place to send your Amazon gift card? We will be sending that out within the next 24 hours.