Conducting interviews is a great way to gather insights about your products, market and competition. Interviews are used mainly as a form of primary research. They involve speaking directly with current or potential customers to learn more about their pain points and desired gains. Although interviews are a great source of information and provide valuable insights, it is important to avoid interviewer bias and to refrain from asking leading questions.
This article provides insights on avoiding interviewer bias and leading questions, as well as a checklist and tips & tricks.
Interviewer bias stems from trying to get specific answers or information from the interviewee that will directly support your hypothesis. It interferes with being objective, both negatively and positively, and clouds the interviewee’s judgment when they provide answers. This bias can be shown through body language, attitude, inconsistency in questioning or particular wording (i.e., leading questions) that leads the interviewee to answer a specific way.
Dismissing an interviewee’s response from the collected data because it doesn’t align with your hypothesis or it contradicts other interviewees’ responses is another common type of bias. Outliers often tell a bigger story than the collected interviewees’ responses.
A leading question may influence interviewees to provide a desired answer. This can occur through the use of specific wording or body language.
For example, “You do enjoy working here, right?” is a leading question. It uses specific language that implies you want the interviewee to answer they do enjoy working there, instead of allowing them to answer honestly in their own words. This type of questioning often pressures the interviewee and limits the integrity of the interview, as it might not produce honest responses.
|Consider reframing your questions like this:
When framing questions, consider the ultimate goal of the project and the research questions to ensure each question provides value. Use the same set of interview questions for every interviewee to avoid bias and ensure a level of consistency between interviewees.
Questions should be short, direct and to the point. Break big ideas or concepts into smaller, multiple questions to avoid confusing the interviewee and ensure you receive a clear answer. Use direct language to ask one question at a time. If you want to know how someone feels about two different things, ask two separate questions.
|Instead of this:
Breaking larger concepts into smaller questions will enable the interviewee to provide the most accurate response because it enables them to focus on one question at a time.
Checklist to ensure questions are framed properly:
It is crucial to stay open-minded to all possibilities. Let the information lead you to the proper conclusion, rather than leading the interview to the conclusion you believe to be correct.