It seems that the only connection people are concerned with today is the strength of their Wi-Fi signal. Life and business can move dizzyingly fast and all too often the price of that speed is the relationships we develop with people. Whether long term or only for a few minutes, a personal connection with someone can greatly influence how people behave when around you.
In the context of a user experience interview, this can make or break your data. It is important to remember that the person sitting across from you is not just respondent number 9, but a real person with thoughts, ideas, and insights that you do not yet have. My time as a Researcher at User Insight has taught me that the ability to establish a connection, if only for a short while, will set the tone of the interview and ultimately, the insights the respondent is willing to share with me.
My goal during an interview is simply to have a conversation, not to administer an in person survey. That is to say that the communication should go both ways. I use research techniques to uncover the true needs of the user and encourage them to be an active participant and ask questions of their own. Without this back and forth, the interview can take on the feel of an interrogation.
This is why making a connection is key. The beautiful thing is that the connection can be almost anything. “Tell me about yourself”might just be the most important question you ask. In their response will be something that you can identify with. For me, it is when the responded tells me they are from Atlanta. Being a transplant myself, I am fascinated when I come across someone who is a tried and true Atlanta native. Trust me, they are few and far between and tend to be very proud of it.
While there are many different aspects and approaches to user experience interviews, by taking this approach, you are encouraging the User to talk and share, both vital parts of establishing that personal connection and of a successful interview.