What is the Research Questions card?
Ask questions that help you challenge your own unavoidable biases.
When you have an idea, it’s natural to want people to like it. This can lead us to try and get people to say what we want to hear, rather than the truth. Asking good questions helps us reach the real answers, where we get people talking about the right things. The most effective tool for solving the problem is to listen.
“Research is formalised curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.” – Zora Neale Hurston
How to use the Research Questions card
a. Focus on what people do
80% of New Year’s resolutions end in failure. People often falsely speculate about the future. The best way to understand future behaviours is by looking back at what they did.
b. Be specific
Drill down into motivations and behaviours, ask why.
c. Don’t lead, don’t close
Try not to ask leading or closed questions. For example:
Leading: “You don’t use our design system, do you?”
Closed: “Have you used our design system within the last week?”
Open: “Can you tell me about a time when you’ve used our design system?”
d. Listen, observe, reframe and... pause
Reframing what an interviewee has just said: “So, it sounds like you’re saying that...”, “What I’m hearing is that...”
e. Don’t solve the problem
Good interviewing is about gathering evidence, not trying to solve the problem.
f. It’s not about you
Play the novice, ask the naive questions – allow your interviewee to share what they know with you, to be the expert, and to feel good about sharing it with you.
g. Digging in
Ask them to build on what they say: “Tell me more about that?”
h. Focus on what matters
“You clearly have a lot of experience in this area, but I’d like to ask you now about...”, “We’ve got a limited amount of time, so I’d like to make sure I cover some important areas in our discussion...”
Tip: listen back to your interviews and use these prompts to see how you did.