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Create an interview guide

Now that you’ve developed your target customer archetype and identified what you want to learn about their needs, it’s time to develop questions to prepare for your client interviews. In your customer discovery process, you have completed steps 1 and 2 and are onto step 3: creating an interview guide.

The purpose of this guide is not to create a hard script during a customer interview, but to keep you focused on the things you are trying to learn about your customer and their needs.

Create an interview guide

In this section, you will:

  • Take your list of hypotheses from the previous exercise and translate them into a set of questions you can use during a customer interview.

  • Make sure the questions focus on how people think about these themes.

  • Learn to assess if your hypotheses are correct or incorrect.

  • Develop 6-8 questions for each of your hypotheses.

  • Get your most important questions answered early in the interview guide.‍

As you conduct interviews, your questions should evolve as you gather more information! Remember, this is a guide, not a script.

What should these questions look like?

Customer discovery questions are open-ended and nonspecific about your business niche. By letting the customer lead the conversation, you will end up letting them tell you about their ideal solution (instead of the other way around). Some example questions to get you started might include:

  • Tell me how you currently do ______________.

  • How is that process working for you?

  • You mentioned X, can you say more about that?

  • How did you find your current solution?

  • What is not ideal about this solution?

  • What do you not like about working with _______?

  • Walk me through how you do ____.

  • If you could do anything to improve your experience with _______________, what would it be?

How to structure the interview

We recommend this simple structure. Interviews can be anywhere from 20-60 minutes. Use the organizer in your workbook to craft and organize your own questions.‍

Considerations to keep in mind

  • Don’t assume you already understand the problem! You want to learn about each customer’s experience.

  • Don’t “lead the witness.” Avoid asking leading questions like “is your tutor too expensive?” Rather, ask: “How much does your tutor charge? How do you feel about that price?”

  • Ask open-ended questions! Don’t lead them to an answer. You want to hear where they take the answers. For example, rather than: “Are you dissatisfied with your current process?” ask: “What aspects of your current process do you feel dissatisfied with?” The first question leads to a yes or no answer, while the second question allows the interviewee to offer concrete examples.

  • Do not sell your product or idea yet. This will come later, but right now, you just want to gather your potential customers’ stories.

In this section, you built on identifying your customer archetypes and their common themes in order to craft an interview guide to talk to potential customers. This is an important step in the process to prepare you for the next step—talking to actual people in a way that will be helpful to hone your niche.

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