Kirkus Reviews on Interviewing Users, second edition

Kirkus Reviews just published a review of Interviewing Users, second edition. [You can purchase the book here].

An extraordinarily thorough and thoughtful introduction to the art of the research interview.

Portigal presents a comprehensive guide to conducting and analyzing user research interviews.

Conducting a professional interview, the author astutely observes, is not the same as casually “chatting”; in fact, a well-structured interview can be “fundamentally different” from an ordinary conversation. “Interviewing users involves a special set of skills. It takes work to develop these skills. The fact that it looks like an everyday act can actually make it harder to learn how to conduct a good interview because it’s easy to take false refuge in existing conversational approaches.” Portigal, who has 25 of years of experience as a researcher and consultant, rigorously anatomizes the chief structural elements of an interview—the formation of a plan, the interviews themselves, and the consequent analysis of the data yielded. The text covers a remarkable expanse of intellectual territory very concisely—the book is less than 300 pages long—especially considering that it includes guest essays from industry experts. With great clarity (the author never indulges gratuitously inaccessible jargon), Portigal walks readers through every constituent part of the interview process, from finding the participants to interpreting their answers. This is more than a technical field guide—the author deftly analyzes the human element of the interview as well, this “shared, unnatural experience” that can produce “something profoundly new” but can also be unsafe, awkward, and hostile. He details how to build a quick rapport with a stranger and empathetically encounter the interviewee as a “real live person in all their glorious complexity.” An effective interview requires more than a “toolkit” for asking questions—it demands a “way of being” that cultivates an undogmatic openness to others. While the focus of the book is on user research interviews, this guide will be helpful to anyone in a position to extract information from others in a professional environment.

An extraordinarily thorough and thoughtful introduction to the art of the research interview.


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