Contact me at

Ask the Design Thinking Doc - What questions should I ask in the user interviews?


The journalist’s friend is the 5W1H tool. What is 5W1H? Who uses it? Where is it used? How does one use the tool? When is it best used? Why should one use the tool? Hmmm… Let’s find out.

Design Thinking, as a skill, can be learnt by practicing the methodology on real world problems. I run an online course on Design Thinking on a Govt. of India platform called SWAYAM where close to 32,000 learners have learnt Design Thinking already.

What I have got in return (apart from lots of love 😍) is the variety of questions that have been asked by so many curious learners. This Ask the DT Doc series can be helpful to anyone – a beginner, intermediate or advanced learner of Design Thinking. (Also checkout for the book on Design Thinking)

This post will cover the question “What questions should I ask in the user interviews?”


Means type of sample question? whats questions we should ask to persona?

…what ….where …..when ……who …….why types

Source -

My Response

The main objective of having a persona is to imagine a typical personality who is going to perform this journey.

Age, sex and geography are the basic elements that need to be there. You can even name your persona, if you want. For example, your persona could be a 14 year old student in the city of Agra. Another persona could be a 56 year old lady teacher in Mumbai. This usually comes when you observe many customers and track their stories.

The main intention being to get an insight into their life.

This would also mean making the people you talk to, comfortable.

You can use these question starters to get a grip on who you are talking to and also to frame the customer journey mapping exercise as a story collecting tool. For any nugget that the customer tells you, it helps to expand that nugget using the 5W1H framework.

Example, if the 56 year old lady teacher from Mumbai tells you, “I get a lot of chalk powder in my eyes while I am writing.”

Instead of immediately jumping to a powderless chalk, find out more about what she just said.

  • “So, when was the last time you used chalk?”
  • Why do you use chalk?”
  • Where do you buy/get chalk from?”
  • How does the chalk get into your eyes?”
  • What chalk do you use?”

With these you get better stories than the first statement of chalk getting in to her eyes.

As with any other human interaction, take your time and get to know them like a friend.


In summary, interviewing is a skill that can be learnt over the years. One of the techniques that can speed up the process is 5W1H

Why, What, When, Where, Who and How
Prepared questionnaire
Use the questionnaire as a guide, be flexible
Expand nuggets
Use the 5W1H to expand all one-liner sweeping statements from your customer into stories

Picture Source -

comments powered by Disqus