The Moment of Truth: The Interview


With a little preparation and the structured interview template, any member of the team can do an adequate job of interviewing a user or customer. (However, it may be best to pick those team members who are most outgoing and are comfortable talking with users and prospects in a relatively unstructured, business setting.) Here are some tips for a successful interview.

  • Prepare an appropriate context-free interview, and jot it down in a notebook for reference during the interview. Review the questions just prior to the interview.

  • Before the interview, research the background of the stakeholder and the company to be interviewed. Don't bore the person being interviewed with questions you could have answered in advance. On the other hand, it wouldn't hurt to briefly verify the answers with the interviewee.

  • Jot down answers in your notebook during the interview. (Don't attempt to capture the data electronically at this time!)

  • Refer to the template during the interview to make certain that you're asking the right questions.

Make sure that the script is not overly constraining. Once rapport has been established, the interview is likely to take on a life of its own. The customer may well launch into a stream-of-consciousness dialogue, describing in detail the horrors of the current situation. This is exactly the behavior you are striving for . If this happens to you, do not cut it off prematurely with another question; rather, write down everything as quickly as you can, letting the user exhaust that particular stream of thought. Ask follow-up questions about the information that has just been provided. Then, after this thread has run to its logical end, get back to other questions on the list.

It is OK to wander off course a bit, just as long as the interviewer keeps the goal in mind.

After even a couple of such interviews, the developer/analyst will have gained some knowledge of the problem domain and will have an enhanced understanding of both the problem being solved and the user's insights on the characteristics of a successful solution. In addition, the developer can summarize the key user needs or product features defined in the interview. These "user needs" live near the top of our requirements pyramid and serve as the driving force for all the work that follows .


Managing Software Requirements[c] A Use Case Approach
Managing Software Requirements[c] A Use Case Approach
ISBN: 032112247X
Year: 2003
Pages: 257 © 2008-2017.
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