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Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Lean Research Skills for Conducting Interviews

Massachusetts Institute of Technology via edX

This course may be unavailable.


Interviews are one of the most common and powerful field research methods, used across a wide variety of disciplines and topics. Whether conducting a research study, an evaluation of an existing product or service, or gathering insights for a business plan, or a design process, interviews are often the method of choice for gaining insights directly from people.  The quality of that information, however, depends to a large degree on the skill of the interviewer.

This course introduces effective techniques for conducting interviews and is designed to help you develop and strengthen your skills as an interviewer. It does not assume any existing experience conducting interviews, but will quickly take you past the basics and into best practices that incorporate the Lean Research principles of rigor, relevance, respect, and right-size. The course focuses specifically on conducting interviews in “the field” - contexts in which we may be in an unfamiliar setting or culture, such as when traveling abroad or conducting research in a place we haven’t been before.

Photo by Megha Hegde, MIT D-Lab


Week 1: The Lean Research Approach to Interviewing
  • Lesson 1: Introduction to Lean Research
  • Lesson 2: The Lean Research principles in practice
Week 2: Becoming a Skilled Interviewer
  • Lesson 3: Introduction to interviewing skills: the basics
  • Lesson 4: Qualities and skills of effective interviewers
Week 3: Lean Research Interviewing Skills
  • Lesson 5: Lean Research interview skills
  • Lesson 6: Analyzing and using interview data
Week 4: Handling Challenges in Interviewing
  • Lesson 7: Dealing with challenges in interviewing
  • Lesson 8: Connecting across differences
Week 5: Practicing our Interviewing Skills
  • Lesson 9: Preparing to conduct your own interviews
Week 6: Conduct an interview!
  • Lesson 10: Conduct your practice interview (final project)
Week 7: Helping each other improve
  • Lesson 11: Peer review of interviews
  • Lesson 12: Course wrap-up

Taught by

Elizabeth Hoffecker and Zoe Dibb


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