Use a discussion guide to structure interviews with users

In a structured interview, you will use a discussion guide that outlines the topics to cover and specific questions to answer to make sure you cover all the topics you are researching. Discussion guides also help keep interviews across multiple users consistent and makes analysis easier later.

A discussion guide acts like a script to make sure you ask questions in an unbiased way to avoid influencing the answers. Use a template to start and edit it to fit the types of information you need. Questions should be open-ended (not answered with a yes/no) and should never include a possible answer in the question. Use the discussion guide to keep the interview on track, and as time allows, follow up their answers with additional questions like:

What can you tell me about ____?
What have you seen, read, heard, or been told about ____?
What are some reasons you ____?
What did you say to yourself when ____?
Tell me more about ____?
How so?
In what way?
What else? Anything else?
What does [word they just said] mean to you?
How would you summarize that, in your own words?
Please give me an example of ____?

Try out our template discussion guide, and follow these important interviewing do’s + dont’s:


Maintain eye contact, mirror body language
Actively listen, giving neutral affirmations like “Gotcha” “I hear you” “Hm!”
Ask questions that are clear, neutral, directive, non-threatening, open-ended
Ask them to clarify any ambiguous statements or terms
Leave “dead time” after asking a question to give them space to think
Keep the interview on-track and on-time by interrupting and redirecting tangents and rants
Follow up answers with probing questions to get more clarity, depth
Focus on only their personal experience


Don’t interject your opinions, judgment (even positive)
Don’t “help” answer or supply a possible answer in the question
Don’t “educate” or correct misconceptions
Don’t let users know you’ve designed anything, even if you have
Don’t ask more than one question at a time
Don’t ask for or allow them to speculate about others’ thoughts or experience