In-depth interview illustration

Lead paragraph

In-depth interview helps designers to gather understanding and insight directly from participants. In-depth interviews can be conducted in a semi-structured (around key themes), or unstructured manner, and are mostly done face to face so designers can observe body language and to create a more intimate atmosphere, but can be also conducted by telephone or online (e.g. via Skype).

PREPARATION: 2-4 hours
DURATION: 30-45 minutes per interview
TEMPLATE OR GUIDELINES: Create your own  in-depth interview plan
FACILITATORS: 1 -3, design team members
RESOURCES: Notebook, voice recorder, video camera, photo camera
PARTICIPANTS: 5-15, users, employees, or other stakeholders
EXPECTED OUTCOME: Field data such as notes, texts, photos, videos, audio recordings

By using the in-depth interviews, designers tap into participants everyday moments and subtleties. Designers conduct in-depth interviews with users, employees, or any other relevant stakeholders in a situational context relevant to the design challenge.


Define the focus of what you are interested in and consider what you want to do with the findings (build personas, journey maps, system maps, etc.).

Based on the selected focus area, define the criteria for selecting suitable participants.

Think about how you will recruit your participants, what expectations will be set up-front, how you will start and end, and how much time they are expected to dedicate to this activity. Write up the in-depth interview plan and a guide explaining what you want to find out, and then formulate concrete questions based on that. Pilot the interview plan with one or two persons.

After deciding the best times, length and depth of the interview, start by asking open and non-leading questions. Then move to questions that give you the information you are looking for and which makes it easy for participants to answer. Then, follow your interview plan.

Write up key learnings right afterwards. Then, transcribe the interview and analyze the data whilst highlighting important issues. Make a short summary that includes the key findings (similarities and differences) and examples from the data (e.g. quotes) that exemplify these.

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