Preparing for Customer Discovery Interviews

In a previous blog, we explored 3 Tips to Improve your Customer Discovery techniques. Customer discovery is critical to launching a product or company, and yet it is often overlooked. The customer discovery process can be roughly divided into three parts: before the interview, during the interview, and after the interview. Let’s look at some tips from experienced I-Corps instructors before you start interviewing customers.


Have at least one Hypothesis to Test

Although it is good to go into interviews open-minded, it is important to have a hypothesis you want to test. Usually, this hypothesis is directly related to your product or service, and you believe it is what makes your innovation unique. In other words, you are trying to decipher what your value proposition will be for your business offering. Testing this hypothesis should be the main objective of your interview.

“Every meeting should have a purpose, whether it’s a customer discovery interview or a business meeting with a colleague. Otherwise, you might come out of the meeting the same way you entered.” – Nerissa Marbury, I-Corps Instructor


Research your Interview Subject

Just like a job interview, doing some research before talking with people is a good idea. Try to learn the background of your interviewee and keep their expertise in mind. You chose to interview them for a reason! Additionally, if you find something you have in common with the interviewee, they may be more likely to open up to you.

“Find common ground. Then pick one or two things to share. It could be a favorite sports team, your alma mater, a band you enjoy, or even a conference you both attended.”


Have a Process, Have a Plan

As the two points above make clear; you shouldn’t be randomly talking with people. It is important to come to the interview prepared with appropriate background knowledge and know your goal for the interview (testing your hypothesis).

Having a process also involves a scripted introduction, general questions, and ending statements. It is important to clearly communicate who you are, and what you are generally doing with the information. This can make you look credible and can foster trust between you and the interviewee. Developing this plan before you start interviewing can save a lot of hassle and can streamline your customer discovery process.

“When you’re prepared and have a plan in place, it is easier to go with the flow when an unexpected interview opportunity comes your way.”


These are just a few tips for preparing for customer discovery interviews. With proper preparation, you will be on your way to becoming a customer discovery expert.


About the I-Corps Instructor:

Nerissa Marbury is the founder and CEO of One Epiphany LLC, a U.S.-based, certified minority- and woman-owned digital solutions company.







Written by Chris Eakin

NSF I-Corps Hub: Great Lakes Region, 2022