Customer Interview Questions

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October 4, 2021

This question guide provides an overview of potential questions to ask participants in customer interviews. This is not intended to be a comprehensive list nor is it expected that all questions would be asked in each interview.

Interviews are best when conducted in a conversational style and seek to uncover “why” customers buy through stories of real events. Our primary goal is to understand the interviewee’s day-to-day life and how our products fit into their existing needs, motivations, and behaviors.


Purchase Consideration

  1. When did you first realize you needed something to solve your problem? 
  1. What happened that led you to start looking for something like {product}?

  2. How did you go about looking for a solution?
  1. Where were you when you were thinking about this?
  1. Why did you start using {product}? What keeps you using it day in and day out, instead of [ACHIEVING THE JOB TO BE DONE] some other way?
  1. Do you remember talking with anyone else about the decision? Who? What did they say?

  2. Did you look at other solutions? If so, why did you pick {product} over something else?

  3. Why did you finally choose {product}?
  1. What was the last software that you bought for your business?


Current Behavior

  1.  What specific tasks do you use {product} to accomplish?
  1.  Could you walk me through what a typical week using {product} looks like?
  1.  Can you share any examples of a time you felt particularly stressed or frustrated with {product}?
  1.  So now, what's working well about {product}?

  2.  Which other technology products do you use in your role day to day?


Understanding Progress (the Job to be Done)

  1.  Before you purchased {product} did you imagine what using the product would be like?
  1.  How has your life improved since you started using {product}?
  1.  What can you do with {product}, that you couldn’t do before?

  2.  How would you describe {product} to your friends?
  3. Is there anything else you think is really important to discuss, that we haven't covered yet?

3 Customer Interview Secrets

  1. Focus on real events. In my experience, the best way to eliminate your own bias and to prevent people from telling you what they THINK you want to hear is to ask about very specific events and experiences. Let the conversation guide your follow-ups and remain curious about the underlying why behind each answer.
  2. Don’t worry about asking all your questions. The best interviews I’ve conducted focus on the stories and the real experiences of the interviewee. It’s perfectly okay if the first portion of an interview doesn’t seem related to your questions if it helps break the ice and create an open conversation. We’ll pull out the critical insights in the next module.
  3. Record everything. To allow you to focus on the conversation and not worry about missing a crucial insight, I’d recommend recording your interviews using a tool like Zoom or Uberconference if you’re doing video interviews or Call Recorder for phone interviews to record these calls for free if you're doing them virtually.

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Introducing your own bias. It's very important to remember that each interview is about the interviewee and their experience rather than you or your product. Avoid introducing visual cues or asking leading questions that could lead your witness. Stay focused on discovery rather than feedback.
  2. Making assumptions. Sometimes you will hear things that at face value might seem to validate a hypothesis you already have. It's easy to just accept that and move on, but it's important to dig deeper for more evidence grounded in real behavior. For example, if you ask "Do you think you drink enough water?". You might hear a simple "yes", but when you ask "How many times did you drink water today?" you might get a different answer that you can dig into to understand why.
  3. Being too scripted. This isn't a job interview or a colonoscopy. Think of your role as being an investigative journalist following the story as it twists and turns. Ask your questions as they make sense in the conversation and use the cheat sheet as a reference guide rather than a rigid script.

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