Last updated Sep 14 2020

⚡ User interview tips

Actionable tips to avoid bias in your users interviews - Cristina Crucianu

In this talk, Cristina Crucianu from ManoMano explores practical ways to avoid bias in user interviews.
What Cristina covers:

  • How confirmation bias can creep into survey questions
  • How to rephrase common questions to avoid bias

Click below to read the transcript.


Hi everyone. I'm Cristina Crucianu and I'm a PM at ManoMano, which is a European leader in do-it-yourself, home improvement and gardening. I'm excited to be with you today in order to talk about how to avoid bias in your user interview.

I'm not a researcher, I have to say, but throughout my career, I've done many users interview, and I would like to share with you the finding. The most important part of the conversation today is gonna be around confirmation bias. There are many biases that you should know about, but this is the most important. And this is based in the fact that whenever we are writing users interview, it's because we already have a solution in mind and this biases the results that we may get from our users.

For instance, we can ask questions for us, "Do you find this functionality useful?" "Do you think this functionality will be useful?" "Do you think this will be good?" And of course, by putting an adjective such as "good" or "useful", or a verb as "enjoy", it's leading the users into beliefs that, that may be useful and therefore confirming the information or the question. So, this is obviously biasing our results.

Another thing that is very important to know, is that also questions, maybe "yes" or "no' question. And that's also a very wrong way of asking questions, because we are not digging into the problem, we are trying to research, or at least, we're not getting more information from the users.

And these are some type of examples that I would like for you to see, which are not entirely correct. For instance, "Why do you enjoy using this product?" is basically, we have "enjoy" in the sentence and it's slightly misleading users. On the second one, "Do you use this product?" Basically, it's a "yes" or "no" question. And it's still where we'll get our confirmation and we already be told that our ideas are great and the solution to the problem is fantastic, but what it's important about, say user research, is not that. It's digging more into the problem, as I mentioned before.

So how can we rephrase this question?

Basically, we could go for questions such as "Why do you use this product?" So for instance, imagine we're doing some benchmarking on a functionality, on a feature, or a specific product, that our competitors are using, and the users are using at this moment. If we want to surpass our competitors and we want to learn more information or enhance our product we need to ask users "why". We need to see them through the journey, or know the reasons why they're using that specific product, in order to apply it too.

And then, the second case is going for a question, that's definitely not a "yes" or "no" question, is, "Can you please explain to me more about how you do this?" So, in this way, we'll have the chance to see how the user explain this, his user journey or what he normally does, whenever he's doing a specific activity on the platform.

So, it is then when we have to apply our knowledge, in order to take note and do active listening, in order to learn more about what the user is doing, and therefore try to detect where the pain points are.

So, basically this is the information I wanted to deliver to you. I hope you find it useful, and I wish you all the best. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me. Thank you very much for being here.