Get Honest Answers: Interviewing with Empathy

Interview for Empathy Method from Standord’s D School

Ever made a purchase on Amazon without looking at reviews?

What about dine at a restaurant without checking Yelp reviews first?

It’s not surprising that like 70% of Americans, most of us rely on online reviews before making a purchasing decision.

Marketers use online reviews, a type of social proof, to influence buyer behavior. Social proof is especially effective when you can inject authentic user stories to generate testimonials. Those types of stories build trust and credibility because they demonstrate that real people are using your product or service successfully.

But not all testimonials are equal.

The best testimonials use empathy to transport us into someone’s life and leave us with a feeling instead of telling us what to feel. They inspire and persuade us to take action.

Building empathy into testimonials starts during the interview. Try the following five techniques when interviewing users for testimonials.

  1. Properly introduce yourself. Your first interaction with a person sets the tone for the interview. In order to build rapport, you must shake hands, explain who you are, and engage in small talk.
  2. Be aware of your body language. There are a combination of verbal and nonverbal cues that demonstrate genuine interest. Sit up straight, maintain clear eye contact, nod in acknowledgement, and repeat part of their answers to show that you are actively listening.
  3. Get the interviewee to tell you stories. Asking questions like “Tell me about the last time you ____” puts the interviewee in the frame of mind to reveal recent and true stories that show how they really feel about a subject.
  4. Ask why. Follow up by asking “why” multiple times to get at the root of understanding their problems and the impact of your product or service on their life.
  5. Remain in interview mode until you can no longer see the participant. You’ll usually get the best stories at the end of the interview. It’s the time when the interviewees are most relaxed and finally trust you. Keep the film rolling, keep listening, and save the best questions for last.

Testimonials with empathy are especially valuable for your business because they have the power to persuade. Let the consumer experience your product through stories, actions, and feelings they can relate to rather than your description and feature list.