In one project, we spoke to about ten people and had session notes and videos. The next logical step for me was to hold a synthesis session. I invited many team members to a room and shut us in for four (sometimes up to eight) hours. Of course, I was nice. I ordered pizza, had drinks (soda for morning sessions, beer for later afternoon sessions), and brought heaps of cookies and chocolate.
I loved synthesis, but soon was dreading the sessions. I kept banging my head against the wall, trying to understand how to include the teams. I didnt want to synthesize alone. I also didnt want to assign mountains of homework. I didnt want to tag all the notes before the session, completely biasing the workshop participants. Again, more headbanging.
Interview Panel Debriefing: Navigating the Interview
Why are debrief sessions important?
Debrief sessions provide a way for teams to understand the results of the research and apply that information to the project. These sessions are important because they can:
What is an interview debrief session?
An interview debrief session is a meeting held after a research interview that allows team members to discuss what they learned. For example, a team of programmers, designers and research and development staff may hold a debrief session after a usability test, where a potential user or group of users tests a product before its public release. The debrief session is an opportunity for everyone involved in a project to brainstorm ideas and make suggestions for improvement based on the results of the research.
Interview debriefs usually take place shortly after the research session to help team members remember the content clearly. Because they take place after each research interview, debrief sessions are usually short meetings that last for about 30 minutes to one hour. At the end of all research interviews, teams typically hold a much longer session to discuss the data from all interviews and make key decisions about a project.
How to debrief after an interview
Here are the steps you can take to debrief after a research interview:
1. Choose the attendees
Decide which team members can observe the research interview and ask them to be part of the debrief session as well. You may decide to have all team members be part of every research interview, or you may choose to have different team members observe each interview.
Its helpful to have everyone who takes part in the research interview also be part of the debrief session so that you hear feedback and ideas from multiple perspectives. In this step, also decide when you want to hold the debrief session so you can communicate that information to team members.
2. Set an agenda
Before the debrief session, know the agenda for the meeting and how much time you want to spend covering each topic. Determine the areas that may be most helpful for the team to focus on. For example, you may decide to use part of the meeting to discuss any problems a user experienced while interacting with the product. If your team has held debrief sessions before, consider what worked well in those sessions to help determine the agenda for the next one.
3. Summarize the main information
At the beginning of a debrief session, provide a concise summary of the research interview. Note any key information you learned from the interview and explain how it relates to the goals of the project. Ask team members for their input on what information they gained during the interview. Keep this part of the meeting short so you have time for brainstorming and questions later in the debrief session.
4. Ask questions
While discussing the focus areas you identified in step two, ask questions to help guide the discussion. Its helpful to have a general template of questions for these sessions, so you know what to ask the team. You can change or add questions to the template depending on the project.
For example, if youre working on an update to a mobile application, you may ask questions that center on the users interaction with the application. Some examples of questions you can ask during a debrief session include:
5. Allow time for brainstorming
Though a debrief session is usually a short meeting, its important to give the team some time to brainstorm ideas they may have after observing the research interview. If you have a larger debrief team with more than a few people, ask them to pair up into smaller groups to discuss their ideas. This can help facilitate discussion among team members and encourage them to share their ideas. When theyre finished brainstorming, ask the team to present their ideas so you can identify any trends.
6. Take notes
Its helpful to take notes during a debrief session so you can share the information with other team members or stakeholders who are unable to attend. You can designate one person on the team to take notes, or you may give each team member a list of questions and ask them to fill out their answers during the session. At the end of the meeting, collect the notes and prepare a report to share with the rest of the team or project stakeholders. This can help keep those members updated on the research process and the teams next steps.
7. Ask for feedback
Once youve finished a debrief session, get input from the team members about the discussion. This feedback can help you determine the effectiveness of the sessions and identify areas you may want to change before the next one.
For example, some team members may want to hold the session a few hours after the research interview, rather than immediately, so they can prepare their thoughts. You can ask for input at the end of a debrief session, or you can ask the team to complete an anonymous survey after the session to encourage them to give their honest opinions.
Research interview debrief template
Heres a template of questions to ask during a research interview debrief:
Research interview information
[Name of project]
[Name of research interview participant]
[Names of team members, researchers or stakeholders]
How do you debrief an interview?
- Schedule a time for a debrief with the candidate. …
- Carefully outline your questions to gain the insight you need. …
- Speak candidly with the candidate and record their responses. …
- Ask any follow-up questions necessary. …
- Use the candidate’s answers to optimize your recruiting strategy.
How do you debrief after a research interview?
- Study title.
- Researcher’s name and contact information, if applicable, for follow-up questions.
- Thank participants for taking the time to participate in the study.
- Explain what was being studied (i.e., purpose, hypothesis, aim). …
- Explain how participants were deceived.
What is debriefing call?
Does a debrief mean you didn’t get the job?