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Build a greater understanding of your problem and the people it impacts.

Stakeholder and user interviews


A wide-spanning set of semi-structured interviews with living experts who have an interest in a project’s success, including stakeholders and users.


To build consensus about the problem statement and research objectives.

Time required

1–2 hours per interviewee

How to do it

  1. Create a guide for yourself of some topics you’d like to ask about, and some specific questions as a back up. Questions will often concern the individual’s role, the organization, the individuals’ needs, and metrics for success of the project. Consider how the interview could harm the participant, and adjust your questions to avoid those hazards. For example, might your questions trigger thoughts of painful experiences?
  2. Sit down one-on-one with the participant, or two-on-one with a note-taker or joint interviewer, in a focused environment. Introduce yourself. Explain the premise for the interview as far as you can without biasing their responses.
  3. Follow the conversation where the participant takes it. They will focus on their priorities and interests. Be comfortable with silences, which allow the participant to elaborate. To keep from getting entirely off course, use your interview guide to make sure you cover what you need to. Ask lots of “why is that” and “how do you do that” questions. Consider asking if there are ways the service or product could cause harm to its users if not done carefully, or what assumptions are being made (leaving it ambiguous as to whether we’re referring to our questions or in the service/product).
  4. If there are other products they use or your product doesn’t have constraints imposed by prior work, observe the stakeholders using a competing product and consider a comparative analysis.

Additional resources

Considerations for use in government

No PRA implications. The PRA explicitly exempts direct observation and non-standardized conversation, 5 CFR 1320.3(h)3. See the methods for Recruiting and Privacy for more tips on taking input from the public.


18F Methods

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