What are some best practices for conducting a Suzy Live interview?

Your Suzy Live project is underway, interviews have been scheduled, your Discussion Guide is complete, and now you’re ready to start interviewing participants!

We’ve compiled a list of best practices for interview moderation. Interviewing strangers is not always easy, but these tips can help you get the most out of your Suzy Live project.

 Before the interview:

  • Be sure your internet connection is stable, and you can join a video call without issue.
    • The Suzy team will conduct a training session with you prior to your first interview to be sure your tech is ready to go.
  • Minimize background noise.
  • Sit in a comfortable area with a professional background.
  • Be prepared with a notepad & pen if you like to write during your interviews. You can also type your notes inside your Suzy Live interview room.
  • Have a glass of water handy!

Note: In addition to being well prepared regarding your research objectives, it is important to be thoroughly familiar with the recruiting criteria for the target audience. This will help you make adjustments in the case that you notice a participant isn’t well-suited for the interview. 

Starting your interview:

  • Build rapport with the participant or group and introduce yourself. State your name, who you are, and how you’re an impartial interviewer. 
  • Be very clear with the participant or group that there is no right or wrong answer, and that you just want to hear their feedback and thoughts during your time together.
  • Set expectations around the length of the interview and the purpose of your time together.
    • Note: Participants have been given a general idea of the topic of the interview during the scheduling process, but use a moment or two to provide any additional context you think is relevant.
  • Confirm that the interview is confidential so the participant or group can feel safe opening up to you.
  • Ask if they have any questions before getting started.
  • Consider starting with an icebreaker to warm up the participant or group. We typically recommend asking them to introduce themselves (who they are, where they live, their family, their job etc). Consider warming up the participants with an ice breaker question that is adjacent or related to the topic of the interview; this leads to a smoother transition into the topic and content area for discussion. Some other questions you could ask are:
    • Where are you calling in from today? 
    • What did you do today?
    • What’s been your favorite thing you did this summer?
    • What are you passionate about?
    • What’s your favorite aisle in the grocery store and why?

Discussion Guide:

  • To structure a successful discussion guide, consider using a funnel approach. This approach encourages that you begin the discussion with broad questions and eventually narrow down to more granular or specific questions. For example, if the topic is on purchase behavior for a specific type or brand of cookie, it’s recommended that you first ask about what the participant generally looks for when buying pre-packaged desserts. 
  • To best uncover how consumers feel, qualitative questions should be open ended, rather than leading or yes/no questions. Use the following question starters to structure your discussion guide: 
    • “Think back to a time when… Tell me about it.”
    • “Tell me about…” 
    • “What’s it like when….?” 
    • “What are the kinds of trade offs you make when considering…?”  
    • “What are you excited about when it comes to…?” 
    • “What are you afraid of when it comes to…?” 
  • Create a flow that feels conversational, and make your transitions between topics or sections smooth.
  • Consider including exercises, games, or activities as part of your discussion guide. For instance, have your participants write a letter to the CEO responsible for the brand or product of interest; or ask participants to think of an image that comes to mind when they think about the brand or product of interest; afterwards, have them describe this image and why they think it comes to mind. 
  • Don’t be afraid to go off-script or move around the Discussion Guide, but always keep your eye on the time. We recommend having timestamps next to each section of the Discussion Guide so you have an idea of how quickly you need to move through each topic.
  • Actively listen to the participant or group and probe on areas that are particularly relevant to project goals. This means you’ll need to have a deep understanding of the project objectives and what the ultimate outcome of the research should look like.
  • Before wrapping up the conversation, offer your participants an opportunity to share their lingering thoughts. Consider the following questions: 
    • “We talked about a lot today. Is there anything I didn’t ask, that you’d like to share or talk about?” OR “What questions did I not ask that I should’ve?” 
    • “What are three things you wish to communicate to the people responsible for…?” 
  • The Suzy team has provided a template guide for you here.

Focus Groups:

  • Group conversations are a bit different than 1 on 1s, as you have to manage a range of personalities during the discussion.
  • Try to hear from every participant for an equal length of time during the discussion - call on users who may be more shy.
  • Some questions you may want to ask to the entire group and see who answers first. Others you may want to call on specific participants at a time. Consider this when building your discussion guide! 
  • Feel comfortable asking participants to mute themselves, move to an area with stronger connection, or turn off their video if needed.
  • If a respondent’s audio or video isn’t working properly, you can remove them from the interview room and swap with another participant from the waiting room (as long as it’s within the first 15 minutes of the group).
  • If you find one person dominating the discussion, call on other participants first with your next question.
    • If they interrupt another participant, kindly ask them to hold their thought until the other person is finished.
    • A technique to shift focus from one set of participants to another is to ask, “Who sees it differently?” or “Who has had a similar experience, as the one X is describing?”
    • The Suzy team will be observing the groups and able to help in the event a participant becomes difficult.
  • A group conversation is the perfect time to brainstorm and ideate with participants. The group could collaborate on product name(s), packaging feedback, creative development and more!