Stakeholder Interviews Guide

What it is:

Stakeholder interviews are semi-structured conversations conducted with key project stakeholders. Project stakeholders include anyone who has an interest in the project's success (including users).

Why to do it:

  • Build empathy with stakeholders
  • Raise important questions and constraints
  • Build trust
  • Drive alignment and shared understanding
  • Inform the "what," "how," and "why"

How to do it:

  1. Plan

  2. Identify the problem you're trying to solve or the experience you're trying to improve

  3. Group stakeholders and users based on their role in relation to the problem you're trying to solve
  4. Identify a few people who can demonstrate the workflows and speak to the concerns of each stakeholder group
  5. Schedule interviews with these people (30 minutes to an hour for each person)

  6. Prepare

  7. Familiarize yourself with the stakeholders' contexts (before the interviews, ask stakeholders for any materials they believe are essential to doing their job)

  8. Draft your interview questions (the best questions are both open-ended and grounded in reality - how and why type questions)
  9. Share your questions with your team and discuss / get feedback

  10. Conduct the interviews

  11. Record the interview if possible (share an informed consent and recording release document)

  12. Always thank people for their time
  13. Explain the purpose of the interview
  14. Ask stakeholders to talk about themselves (see sample questions below)
  15. Take simple notes, give positive affirmations, and repeat back the stakeholder's words to show you are paying attention
  16. Let the conversation flow naturally and try to get people to tell stories that relate to the problem or experience you are studying
  17. Finish up with "do you have any questions for me?"
  18. Thank the participant and let them know if/when you might follow up with them

  19. Synthesize

  20. Document the interviews (some designer-researchers transcribe the interviews) and share with the team

  21. Use the learnings from interviews to inform next steps (journey mapping, story mapping, prototyping, design studio, etc.)

Sample Questions:

  • What is your role in this project / with respect to this product?
  • What did you do before this?
  • What is this product or service supposed to be?
  • What is this product or service not meant to be?
  • Who is this product for?
  • When is the version we're designing going to be released?
  • What worries you about this project? What's the worst thing that could happen?
  • What should this project accomplish for the business / organization / agency?
  • How will you, personally, define success for this project?
  • Is there anyone you think we need to speak with who isn't on our list? Who?
  • How would you like to be involved in the rest of the project, and what's the best way to reach you?

Examples: