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
  • Identify the problem you're trying to solve or the experience you're trying to improve
  • Group stakeholders and users based on their role in relation to the problem you're trying to solve
  • Identify a few people who can demonstrate the workflows and speak to the concerns of each stakeholder group
  • Schedule interviews with these people (30 minutes to an hour for each person)
  1. Prepare
  • Familiarize yourself with the stakeholders' contexts (before the interviews, ask stakeholders for any materials they believe are essential to doing their job)
  • Draft your interview questions (the best questions are both open-ended and grounded in reality - how and why type questions)
  • Share your questions with your team and discuss / get feedback
  1. Conduct the interviews
  • Record the interview if possible (share an informed consent and recording release document)
  • Always thank people for their time
  • Explain the purpose of the interview
  • Ask stakeholders to talk about themselves (see sample questions below)
  • Take simple notes, give positive affirmations, and repeat back the stakeholder's words to show you are paying attention
  • Let the conversation flow naturally and try to get people to tell stories that relate to the problem or experience you are studying
  • Finish up with "do you have any questions for me?"
  • Thank the participant and let them know if/when you might follow up with them
  1. Synthesize
  • Document the interviews (some designer-researchers transcribe the interviews) and share with the team
  • 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: