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Northrop, Mia

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Developing Your Interview Skills, Part II: During the Interview

In Part I of this series on interviewing, I considered preparatory steps you can take before doing interviews for qualitative research to ensure their success. Immersing yourself in the problem space, getting access to the right people and preparing them for their interview, finessing the interview setting, and honing your script’s structure and phrasing are crucial to creating a conducive interview experience. A successful interview depends on characteristics of both the interviewer and the research participant. In Part II, I’ll address how to manage an interview to ensure it starts on the right track and stays there. This article also touches on some ways to develop your interviewing skills throughout your career.

Northrop, Mia. UXmatters (2011). Articles>Interviewing>Ethnographies


Developing Your Interviewing Skills, Part I: Preparing for an Interview

Bad interviews can result in missing data, incomplete detail, misleading results, partial insights, and lost opportunities. Your reports, presentations, and recommendations document what you’ve learned from your research and the decisions you’ve made based on it, so you need to ensure your research is the best it can be—that you get good interviews.

Northrop, Mia. UXmatters (2011). Articles>Interviewing>Ethnographies>User Centered Design


Sharpening Up Your Soft Skills

At some stage in your UX career, the focus of your professional improvement will likely switch from what you can produce as a UX strategist, designer, or researcher to how you produce it. Not only do you need to master hard skills such as how to articulate a UX vision, run a card sort, or wireframe for mobile rather than the desktop, you also need to negotiate with developers, facilitate prioritization workshops for teams, and sell design concepts to stakeholders. Soft skills, the interpersonal and behavioral skills that impact how you manage yourself and work with others, can make or break UX professionals and distinguish the brilliant from the respectable among us.

Northrop, Mia. UXmatters (2013). Articles>Collaboration>Professionalism


When Interviews Go Wrong

Despite our best efforts to prepare for and run an interview smoothly, there are often challenges that crop up in the heat of the moment. Ideally, our interviewees are cooperative, well motivated, eloquent, knowledgeable, truthful, consistent, concise, precise, and coherent, states Steinar Kvale in his book InterViews: An Introduction to Qualitative Research Interviewing. However, like the typical user, the ideal interviewee does not exist. Some people are harder to interview than others, and sometimes, interviews drift off into unproductive territory due to factors beyond our control.

Northrop, Mia. UXmatters (2011). Articles>Interviewing


Your New Excuse to Get an Xbox: How UX Professionals Can Learn from Video Game Design

Games are fun, addictive, beautiful, and immersive. Websites, for the most part, are not. Take a moment and think about what video games look like, what they sound like, the way you can move on the screen, what “you” can be. Think of how you feel when you play and who you play with. Consider the launch of Halo 3 on Xbox 360, with unprecedented graphics, sound, and interactivity that Time.com called “refined to the point where it delivers only pure unadulterated gaming bliss.”

Northrop, Mia. Boxes and Arrows (2008). Articles>User Experience>User Interface

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