Design

5 Quick Tips for a Successful Expert Interview

As an agency, Rocksauce has to become experts across a lot of different industries. In order to do so, we jump in and talk to subject matter experts at the beginning of every project to get a full understanding of the product we’re creating. (And make sure to read our article exploring whether designers have to be a subject matter expert for more.)

5. Interview With a Team In the Room.

We realize not everyone involved can be present for these interviews, but it’s important to have a few team members listening in on the interview and actively taking notes. This results in different interpretations of the interview, rather than one person playing the “telephone game” with their own interpretation.

4. Take “How Might We” Notes During the Interview.

The question of “how might we…?” reframes a problem as an opportunity. It’s also an easy way to align everyone’s notes to be read in the same manner. Example: The expert reveals there’s a big issue with pedestrians in the downtown area. A “How Might We” note would say “how might we make the downtown area better for pedestrians?”

3. Address The Expert’s Thoughts on the Problems & Solutions.

The expert lives with their issues on a daily basis. Sometimes, when engaging a designer, they’ll downplay their own abilities to problem-solve through design, but we know from experience they’ve been daydreaming ways to solve their issue. Get that direct info from the expert to get you started.

2. Have a Group Q&A at the End.

Throughout your questioning, other thoughts will come up from the group. Many of these will be useful during production. Don’t leave those questions hanging for later. At the end of the interview, address these group questions while the expert is in the room. You’ve got them there, so take advantage of that time. Everyone should walk away feeling as knowledgable as possible (and let the expert get back to their busy day).

1. Don’t Take the Expert’s Word as “Law.”

The expert interview opens up a larger conversation and gives designers and developers a head start into research. The creative work done after the interview always uncovers new problems and new solutions. That’s ok! In design, it’s expected.

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