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:
- 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)
- 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
- 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
- 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.)
- 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?
- A Stakeholder Interview Checklist, from Boxes and Arrows
- Build empathy with stakeholder interviews, part 1: Preparation, by Andrew Maier from 18F
- Build empathy with stakeholder interviews, part 2: Conversation, by Andrew Maier from 18F