Example user interview script

This document is designed as a useful starting point for leading a user interview. It includes example questions grouped along the key moments often found in an interview: introductions, warm-up, topic-specific questions, demos, etc. Edit these questions as you see fit. If your questions are specific or your user’s time scarce, consider sharing some questions ahead of time. See this checklist for actually running an interview.

Introduction

Hello, my name’s [moderator]. I’ll be leading our interview today. As I mentioned over email, my office is currently working with [partner] to [broad purpose; for example, inform a redesign of agency.gov]. Joining us on the call are [observers, and their affiliation].

I’d like to start by thanking for you making the time to speak with us. Your feedback is valuable and will be used to inform our team’s future design decisions. Just to confirm, we’d like keep this interview to [duration; for example, 60 minutes]. Does that still work for you?

Great. If you need a break or to stop at any time, please let me know.

During this interview, I’ll ask you a few questions around [topic]. I’d like to note at the outset that I’m [moderator's level of familiarity with the topic; for example: ‘pretty new to this. I’ve only loosely read various background documents and talked with a few of my colleagues. So I’ll start broad.’] Later on, [description of planned activities; for example, ‘I’ll ask you directly about the topic of our research, and then I’d like you to share your screen and show us how you might use an prototype the team has been thinking about. You should have received an email from us with a link to the concept we’d like to discuss’].

Please be aware that there are no wrong answers — you’re the expert here! We’re doing interviews like these to hear things from your perspective. Also, please don’t worry that you’re going to hurt our feelings. We’re doing this to improve the site, so we need to hear your honest reactions.

With your permission, I’d like to record this call. The recording will only be used to help us in our research, and it won’t be shared with anyone except those with a need-to-know. Recording this call also helps me, because I don’t have to take as many notes! Is that okay?

Finally, I want to confirm that you’ve received a participant agreement — is that correct? Have you had a chance to review it? Did you have any questions? If you haven’t already, please sign it and send it back at your earliest convenience.

Great. Do you have any questions for me at this time?

Warm up

To start, I’d like to hear a little bit about you — what’s your occupation? What do you do all day?

What kind of person does your kind of work, generally? Is this something that requires a specific kind of training or experience?

What are your goals in doing your work? What motivates you?

Topic-specific

Thanks for that context. Now, I’d like to ask you a few questions about [topic]. If you had to explain this in the simplest terms possible, how would you do it?

How does [topic] tie back to your goals in doing your work?

What do you do when you have questions about [topic]?

What’s one thing you wish were more straightforward about [topic]?

Demo

Note: If you’re running a usability test, consider reviewing this example usability test script. Its introduction is slightly different, and the body of the script asks users to respond to scenarios.

When was the last time you did [task]? Tell me more.

Do you mind sharing your screen? […] You can do that by clicking “Present now” in the bottom-right corner of our video chat. Before you share, make sure to close anything you don’t want recorded.*

Can you show me how you do [task]?

Wrap up

Thank you so much for your time. Before we finish, what did we forget to ask about?

Would you be open to speaking with us again in the future?

Who else should we talk to?

References