In-Depth Interviews: Guidelines for Generating Insights

Conducting UX research is an essential aspect of the product design process. Gathering insights and feedback from end-users before, during, and after the design phase can help facilitate the development of successful products. There are many different research methods used to gather the information needed from users, including surveysdiary studies, focus groups, usability studies, and, as is the topic of this blog post, one-on-one in-depth interviews. 

In-depth interviews (IDIs) is a method utilized to collect detailed, qualitative data from a smaller sample of end-users in a one-on-one setting. Interviews can be conducted in-person or virtually. This type of research answers questions about the “why” and the “how” of users’ thoughts, opinions, and feelings, as well as their experiences, pain points, desires, and needs. 

In this post, we’re sharing guidelines to keep in mind when you are conducting interviews with users to help you generate valuable insights from your interviews, as well as create a positive experience for the participants. 

Hold a Safe & Supportive Space

At the beginning of the interview, try your best to make the participant feel comfortable and relaxed. You might mention that there are no wrong answers and that you want to hear anything they feel like sharing. You can express that you want them to feel comfortable. Remind them that if they need a break, they can let you know and you can pause at any time during the session. If the meeting is video and audio recorded, we recommend making sure you ask the participant for permission to record the meeting prior to beginning the interview. Try to establish rapport at the beginning of the session by getting to know the participants’ personality and understand the basic context of their daily life. 

Be Present

As an interviewer, you want to be as present and engaged as possible during the session. Practice active listening. Do your best to familiarize yourself with the discussion guide and remove any distractions (e.g. phone/email notifications) prior to the interview. Give the participant your full attention, and make the participant feel heard by nodding, acknowledging their responses, and making eye contact. In a virtual session, eye contact might mean that you look directly at your computer camera as often as possible.

Keep it Semi-Structured

Though you probably have a discussion guide for interviews, don’t feel like you have to be scripted! We recommend keeping the interviews semi-structured, which means you don’t have to follow the order of questions strictly. Feel free to ask questions in a way that makes sense for each particular interview. Aim for a conversational style, and speak in a way that feels natural and authentic to you and easy for the participant to understand.

Ask Open-Ended Questions & Probing Questions

Always remember to use open-ended questions rather than yes/no questions or leading questions to prevent bias. Additionally, interviews give you valuable opportunities to ask follow up questions in real time, allowing you to dive deeper into what users think and why. A probe can be as simple as “Can you tell me more about that?”

Staying on Topic

If the respondent goes way off track, typical courtesy statements can be necessary to return to the research questions. For example, “I value your time and want to make sure I give enough time for some upcoming topics…”, “I love how you are thinking about this and articulating it, and I’d like to definitely come back to this in an upcoming section…” Sometimes, participants are very talkative, and it can be challenging to make sure you get through all the questions you want to ask on time. It might be helpful to remind the participant that you have many more questions to cover and that you have to be mindful of time.

Close with Gratitude

Complete interviews by asking the participant if they have any final thoughts or questions. Then, thank them for their time and contribution. Let them know that their insights are extremely valuable and you really appreciate their participation in this study. Remember, people want to feel that they matter, that they are valued and are adding value. We believe participating in interviews can give people this sense of mattering.


Always compensate your participants generously. It is important to follow up your verbal appreciation with a financial incentive that values the time and expertise of the IDI participants. 

What do you think?

We hope you enjoyed this blog post and that you feel inspired to conduct in-depth interviews with your target audience. Do you have any questions? Feel free to reach out if you would like more information about our services or wish to explore how we can support your research projects.

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