What are In-Depth Interviews (IDI's) and how do I conduct them?

Oscar de la Hera Gomez
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An In-Depth Interview (IDI) is a qualitative research approach that involves one-on-one engagements with participants. They are used to gather an honest, intimate and profound understanding of an audience and user behavior around a topic.

In-Depth Interviews IDI's are a powerful user research tool that enables companies or individuals to gather intimate, honest and profound information directly from the target audience.

It is recommended that companies or individuals do multiple interviews (IDIs) with members of their target audience and synthesize the data in order to validate that there is a true customer need with a return on investment from a large portion of the target audience (i.e. more than a small group of people would pay for your product, service or experience).

As part of the validation that there is a true need, we strongly recommend that you interview the user about the jobs that they do in relation to the field that you are seeking to bring a product, service or experience to. These jobs may reveal gaps in the market that could be fulfilled by your business as a means to enhancing the lives of the users.

To learn more consult the Harvard Business School article linked below.

These jobs or pain points that might be uncovered should be formalized into a user journey map and an empathy map with an associated persona for each individual that you carry an IDI on.

Please note that the IDI's may demonstrate that there is no need for your offering, at which point you may need to pivot or abandon the product, service or experience entirely.

How to structure an In-Depth Interview

IDI's can be structured, unstructured or somewhere in between. Here's how they can be described:

How to conduct a good In-Depth Interview

IDI's are time consuming and require practice to get right.

You can't interview any participant and expect great outcomes and you can't expect any interviewer to get great outcomes from the right participant.

Below are our tips for conducting a good IDI.

B/ Warm up the participant

At the start of any IDI, make sure you spend some time getting to know the participant personally.

Set the product, service or experience to one side spend time learning more about the participants life outside of whatever it is that you're trying to research.

You will be surprised how this will inform the conversation later.

C/ Have a list of pre-set questions

Unless you're carrying out a structured IDI, IDI's are meant to be fluid, allowing for the conversation to go where it needs to.

That said, it is always recommended that you go into an IDI with a good set of questions that may help you navigate the IDI and which will make sure you cover the important points.

D/ Have a separate note taker or record the interview

Note taking can destroy the fluidity of the conversation and damage the potential of an IDI.

With this in mind, either:

  • Record the conversation and take notes after.


  • Have a separate individual to take notes during the meeting.

E/ Be respectful

A good IDI is intimate and reveals secrets about a participant.

In order for this to take place the participant must feel safe and respected.

F/ Remove bias

You are not your audience and you are not your user.

Remove any bias and accept any answer that your participant may provide.

If you are curious as to why, dig deeper.

Learn about design thinking products that could come out of your research

We recommend that you consult our Methods for Synthesizing User Research article linked below to learn about design thinking products that could come out of the research that you have conducted.

These products are created using popular design research methodologies which are intended to help you and your organization innovate effectively.

Looking to learn more about Research and Strategy?

Search our blog to find educational content on research and strategy.

Any Questions?

We are actively looking for feedback on how to improve this resource. Please send us a note to inquiries@delasign.com with any thoughts or feedback you may have.
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