Empathy Interview

WHAT | WHY | HOW

WHAT IS IT:  

The empathy interview is an approach to finding out as much as possible about a person’s experience as a “user” of a space, a place, a process, an objective or an environment.

This type of interview seeks to understand the choices that people make and why they make them. Unlike formal qualitative interviews, the design researcher prepares with a few open ended questions and explores each answer to uncover insights. 

WHY USE IT: 

  • As a tool to perform user (or customer) research.

  • To understand people’s experience as they use an object, space or process.

  • To build rapport and trust with a user in order to surface and make unstated beliefs explicit.

  • To explore personal and individual narratives associated with problems and needs.

  • To identify insights for further research and ideas for prototyping.

HOW TO:​ 

  • Craft two-three open-ended questions based on an observation, data, fact or proposed insight of a situation, need or problem.

  • Bring a notepad and voice capturing device (e.g. smart phone or recording device).

  • Approach your target interviewee and request their time to participate in an interview -- ensure you have their full consent to continue - capture verbal consent or have them sign a consent form.

  • Introduce yourself.

  • Introduce the project.

  • Build rapport with the interviewee.

  • Ask open ended questions to evoke stories and explore emotions.

  • Question their statements in a conversational style and not interrogative mode.

  • Thank them and wrap-up your interview,

  • Capture key comments and observations in your notepad. 

  • Review your notes or voice recording and code your observations and insights.