Questions For A Problem Interview


I recently gave some advice to a Newbie who was planning to do his first problem interviews. I've used this approach in the past and I find it works well.


Now, get out of the building and talk to customers!



Thanks for sharing your thoughts on who the target market is for your product. You have 3 good customer hypotheses. 

The next step is for you to show your problem template to 5-10+ people that fit into each segment. Reveal one column at a time. Use a transition in keynote or powerpoint that reveals just one column at a time. It helps you focus the conversation on the appropriate section.

As you go, explain what the problem is, and ask them the following questions.

1. Do any of these problems resonate with you?

2. How would you rank these problems from most important to least important?

3. What are the pains associated with this problem?

4. What are the gains if you can solve this problem?

5. What other problems are not on this list?

6. If you could wave a magic wand, what problem would you solve and what would happen?


Then, move on to column two, the current solutions. 

7. Which of these alternatives do you use?

8. What are the pains/gains associated with these solutions?

9. What solutions are not on this list?


Then, move on to column three, new solution.

10. Read the words. Does this solution resonate with you?

11. What do these words mean to you?

12. How would this solution work?



13. If we develop solutions to the important problems you mentioned, can we come back and talk to you more about this? (Set up a return appoint right now.)

14. Who else do you know who might have an interest in solving these kinds of problems? (Ask for email intros to do more interviews).


Thank you. End.

As soon as you are finished, make a list of your key insights. 

Key Insights:

- (make a bullet list of all of the "Ah ha's" from the interview.)


After 10, 20 or 30 interviews, start looking for patterns that explain answer variances. Why did he say this and she said that? How are they different? How are their business models different? What characteristics explain why one person answers one way and another person answers the other way? 

The answers to these questions will help you define your customer segments.


Get started now. I'd love to hear back on what you've learned.