How to debrief & follow-up a Discovery interview
  2. Discovery Interviews (Step 2)
  3. How to debrief & follow-up a Discovery interview

1. Debriefing after a Discovery interview

Why, when, where and who of debriefing after your interview.

Solid interview debriefing is critical for two reasons. First, many of the valuable insights you gained during the customer interview (and tour) will be lost because a) you immediately began forgetting them, and b) you haven’t put them in a form accessible to your colleagues. To that last point: It’s not just important that other members of your new-product team access these insights. You want them accessible by others in your company years from now. Far too many companies “don’t know what they know.”

The most important thing to remember about interview debriefing is that you need to do it immediately after the interview. Over 100 years ago, Hermann Ebbinghaus conducted some rather depressing experiments. He found that people typically only retain about half of what they learn after 24 hours… and retention then keeps dropping off. But if they recall and review quickly, their retention is much higher.

So you won’t be surprised to hear this advice: Allow enough time immediately after your interview to debrief, before your return trip. Allow two hours for this: There may be a lot of work to do.

Find a quiet place where the entire interview team—Moderator, Note-taker and Observer—can discuss the interview. Consider a coffee shop, restaurant or airport lounge for this.

The Note-taker should bring his/her laptop and make updates directly to the Discovery interview notes. It’s only natural that members of the team will have heard things differently, or have reached different conclusions about what’s most important to the customer. This is your opportunity to reconcile these points of view while memories are fresh.

And of course, there will be many other upgrades and corrections to make… all covered in the Debriefing Checklist. (downloadable at > BlueTools > Conducting Discovery Interviews/Tours.)

For more on this topic, view e-Learning module 18: Debriefing after Interviews at > e-Learning.


Keywords: Hermann Ebbinghaus, Ebbinghaus forgetting curve, debrief after interview, Debriefing Checklist, Discovery interview debriefing, clean up interview notes