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Go out and meet people

Recruit interview partners

Address key actors

Based on a brief description of the venture and the purpose of the interview, we can write a cover letter for the preliminary talks. The focus of our investigation determines which people we meet and how many. Our focus is fundamentally on the key actors.

Consider diversity

In the selection process for our interviews as we look at our group of key actors, we should consider individuals who reflect diverse underlying attitudes, life circumstances, genders, ethnicities, and age groups. For example, a key actor who is a tax-paying freelancer might reflect considerably diverse factors: open-minded or disenchanted, a single parent with two children or childless, a young professional, someone who speaks a different native language, Generation Y, baby boomer and so on.

Quality rather than quantity

Instead of conducting a large number of interviews, it makes sense to select specific partners and get to know the different perspectives thoroughly – possibly at more than one meeting. Meanwhile, new contacts will often emerge during the interviews, and these will need to be taken into account as well – a time buffer should be scheduled to allow for this.

Engage allies

Before we begin recruiting interview partners, we must consult with individuals or organizations who might benefit from the insights yielded by our investigations. We compiled these in Phase 1 using the Map Out Players.

Find partners

If we want to meet people who are not part of our day-to-day environment or who we can’t address directly, e.g. recipients of public benefits, it’s important to work with partner organizations such as trade unions, associations or institutions for people with special needs. In doing so, we must clearly communicate the need for the interview. Only in this way can outsiders understand what we are investigating and why we want to meet these people.

Respond to critical feedback

When contacting allies and partners, they may well question the effectiveness of our approach and the fact that it is qualitative. We respond to this calmly and openly: quantitative data describes what people do and how often, while qualitative insights explain why people do things and provide information about their attitudes and behavior.

Conduct Preliminary Talks

Conduct Preliminary Talks

What is it and what purpose does it serve?

By selecting key actors, we have theoretically narrowed down who appears to be important for our knowledge acquisition process. The next step is to compare this with reality. In preliminary talks, we can decide whether or not the personality behind the key actor really can help us. For this reason, in-person meetings are not simply scheduled: they are initiated individually based on contact made at the preliminary talks.

Added value

Preliminary talks are important when it comes to selecting our interview partners based on relevance – and not according to their position in the organization or statistical metrics. Valuable interviews are voluntary and derive from a mutual interest in taking a closer look at a topic.

Conduct Preliminary Talks

Work sheet

45 – 60 minutes


  1. Look at the overview of key actors from the Map Out Actors activity and decide who is going to contact which key actor. Have a template ready for the Preliminary Talks (either analog or even better: in digital form as an Excel spreadsheet).

  2. Start by describing briefly and clearly the venture and the purpose of the interview. Enable anonymity as needed, address and clarify data handling, use the Consent Form if necessary.

  3. Ask the interviewee to talk about personal experiences linked to the topic of investigation. In doing so, use short, open-ended questions such as: “Can you tell me about an experience relating to ...?” or “Why was this experience so ... for you?”.

  4. Document relevant touch points in the template to explore in more detail in a lengthier interview. Ensure that it is mutually worthwhile to invest more time. If not, thank the other person for sharing their personal story.

  5. Note down the information: after all preliminary talks have been completed, the team gets together to select the most interesting and diverse interviewees.

Note: Assign catchy abbreviations (e.g. initials of the actor group + consecutive number) to the individuals selected. These abbreviations are used in connection with other methods too, ensuring verifiability and forming the basis for evidence-based work.

Meet key actors

When it comes to arranging appointments, the team decides who is responsible for which interview partner throughout the entire investigation phase. The key points from the preliminary talks can be taken into account when arranging interviews.

Arrange interview dates and venues

Interviews are conducted in pairs to facilitate documentation and subsequent evaluation. It’s important to make appointments well in advance, usually about two to four weeks. For this purpose, we provide information about the project and clarify when and where a meeting or video call can be held lasting 45 – 60 minutes. We use our interview partner’s preferred communication channel when arranging an appointment.

Reliability and interview situation

We adapt to our interview partner’s schedule and postpone the appointment only in the event of an emergency. We send a friendly reminder just before the interview. For the interview itself, we choose a venue that is linked to the situation being explored. Here we establish a protected, focused atmosphere in which our interview partner can speak honestly about the topic.

Checklist: Interview

The day before the meeting:

On the day of the meeting:

Note: Allow at least three hours per appointment to get to the meeting place, mentally engage with the person, conduct the interview, and prepare the initial documentation.

Interview Documentation

Interview Documentation

What is it and what purpose does it serve?

The interview documentation is a transcript based on original quotes and observations. It enables us to undertake a joint analysis afterwards which takes in body language and interactions with the physical setting in addition to the actual subject of the interview.

Added value

By documenting the situation before, during and after the interview, we can discover aspects that are often overlooked. Information that seems unimportant becomes relevant when viewed in context. In addition, experience has shown that visualizations are always enriching!

In terms of the interview itself, striking combinations of what the person says, their body language and their tone of voice are of particular interest. Investigations in real-life contexts are remarkably effective: they provide observational opportunities that make even the most controversial and complex issues easier to understand.

Interview Documentation

Work sheet

60 – 90 minutes


  1. Work as a tandem before, during, and after the interview. Prepare a folder or binder with all the necessary materials for each interview.

  2. On your way to the interview, make the most of the time to sensitize yourself and take in the physical setting with all your senses. Note down your impressions.

  3. Define roles for each interview: one person conducts the interview and asks questions, the other person notes down what is said, if possible in original quotes, and makes a note of any impressions.

  4. Start the interview with a brief introduction and explain the distribution of roles to the interviewee. Remember the Consent Form and the recording, point out that the interview will remain anonymous. Establish an open atmosphere.

  5. During the interview, act as a tandem in paying attention to body language, facial expressions, tone of voice and choice of words. Underlying thoughts, attitudes, emotions and needs can only be derived based on careful observation.

  6. The questioner gives the record-keeper the opportunity to ask brief comprehension questions in between sections of the interview.

  7. Fill in the template together immediately afterwards. This is when the experience is still at its freshest. The person who took notes shares their impressions while the questioner fills in the template.