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