How to interview anyone. An ethnographer's guide to talking with strangers. | Daniel Berkal | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

How to interview anyone. An ethnographer's guide to talking with strangers.

teacher avatar Daniel Berkal, Consumer Research

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

13 Lessons (20m)

    • 2. PRE TO POST


    • 4. RESPECT




    • 8. PLAY DUMB


    • 10. SHOW AND TELL




  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class


Interviews are forced interactions.

When you are asked to question someone, you are engaging in a structured encounter that can take wild turns that often catch you off guard.  In this class, we'll explore several proven tactics that help a subject open up in an honest, authentic and natural manner.

This class explores tricks of the trade to encourage deeper and more human exploration.

I ask questions for a living.  I've conducted literally thousands of one-on-one interviews with a variety of consumers and business leaders.  I've experienced a wide assortment of characters and personality types.  This has led to the creation of an easy to follow workshop where simple techniques help lead to outstanding outcomes. 

What are some great tactics that help lead to success in an interview situation?  

This class arms you with a powerful toolbox to maximize the content and design of your interviews.

In this class you will learn:

– how to build respect with your subject;
– how to maximize the power of repetition;
– how to elicit descriptive responses;
 how to quickly build connections.

And how to make it all seem fresh every time.  Whether it's your first interview or your thousandth, good interviews are those that don't feel canned or pre-planned.   

Sign up for this class to help build your interview techniques and impress your clients.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Daniel Berkal

Consumer Research


Hello, I'm Daniel.  

I'm SVP and a partner at The Palmerston Group, a global qualitative research firm.  I've personally conducted hundreds of energetic interviews of various sizes, ethnographies, mystery shops and ideation sessions among consumers and professionals in North America, Central America, Europe & Asia.

I've had a stellar career working on some of the most innovative brands in business and have been best known for completely immersing myself in consumer environments in a creative way.  With projects featured in Fast Company and Forbes, I've been called "Hands down, the most unique, thought-provoking and game-changing qualitative researcher in the business. Period."  &nb... See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. INTRODUCTION: interviews are forced interactions. When you're asked a question, someone you're engaging in this structure encounter that can often take wild twists and turns that will catch you off guard in this class will explore several proven techniques that help a subject open up in the natural, honest and authentic manner. I ask questions for a living. I've conducted literally thousands of one on one interviews with consumers and business leaders, and it's led to the creation of a really easy to follow workshop where simple techniques can lead to outstanding outcomes. In this class, you'll learn how to build respect with your subjects. How to maximize the power of repetition had elicit descriptive responses. How to quickly build connections, how to maximize the power of repetition, whether it's your first interview or your 1000 good interviews are those that don't feel can or preplanned sign up for this class to help build your interview techniques and impress your clients 2. PRE TO POST: interviews Don't start When you start speaking, interviews start way before you even walk in the door. Look at the interviewed in three different stages before you arrive, you should be nervous. You should read everything you can about this person. You should know. Walk in blind. You should memorize your guide. You should have all your ducks in a rose that when you walk in, you can have that sense of naturalness. And that process is actually a several our long process. If you have an interview coming up at noon, you should know the day before what you're going to be said when the interview starts. You have to relax. You should be as relaxed as Cumbie. You're talking to a human. You're talking to someone who you actually interested in finding out what they're saying. So don't worry about missing lines or missing beats. Just talk it out as naturally as you can. You've already done the preparation so you know what you're gonna be saying. But when you start talking to someone, make it be is natural as possible. After the interview was done, that's when you absorb it. The first thing you do is to listen, toe what you've recorded. Interviews don't work if you don't record them. Human memory is terrible, and you don't want to write things down while you're interviewing someone because it looks awkward and strange. So after you're done talking to the person after out of their environment, that's when you listen to what was said and you try to figure out what boxes that falls into. 3. DONT WALK IN BLIND: I never want toe walk in blind toe an interview. You always know something about who you're talking to, and you always should know something about where you are. And that's something. Should be something that is one layer deep. So don't just look at the immediacy in front of you as you walk into a space. Remember the coffee shop a block away? Look at one book on the shelf in reference it at some point during the interview. Remember the type of shoes that you see at the front door. Find one small thing that shows the person that you're paying attention and that you actually want Teoh. Find out more about them. Do you want to uncover Why? 4. RESPECT: respect starts instantly. Everything is won or lost in the 1st 5 minutes of when you walk in the door. Never show up late, never dress up, Never criticize, never make fun of. If someone's willing to give you their time, you never want to make them wait for you. That means the waiting room. That means while there is a chair, that means even if you're meeting the middle place, you should be there before that person gets. Their people in general are mirrors, and if you dress up in a suit and tie and the person you're talking to never wears a suit and tie, it automatically throws the balance out of whack. Makes someone feel really uncomfortable. However you have toe play your audience. Bacca's well, if you're talking to an executive, you don't want to show up in jeans because that's just disrespectful. Also, be conscious of brands amongst that area as well. The best thing to do when you're doing interviews where nothing branded, it'll brands are very much associated with house, and one sees the world. Do you want to be Nike? A piece of furniture you wanna have no visible marks saying what you are, and all you want to do is just kind of be this sounding board for their talk. No matter what someone says back to you, you never want to tell them how it ISS. Over my career, I've heard people tell me things that are completely wrong. Everything about what they say in certain situations is wrong. I know it's wrong. It's based on lies. It's not true that I never criticize someone, and if you criticize, we'll also throw the person into a spiral of being defensive and putting their garden. You don't want. Everyone is weird. Everyone is, I am. You are. I have this terrible haircut. If you make fun of me in an interview, I will be very upset. I might not show it, but it will hurt my feelings. And people have feelings. If someone has a specific physical partner body that is clearly of note, you don't want to call that out or reason referred that in any way. This is common sense, but it's all too often forgotten. Never make fun of the people you're talking to, 5. SURPRISE CAN BE YOUR FRIEND: there is a distinct advantage, too surprising someone surprising someone doesn't mean make them feel awkward. Surprise does mean there is a clear benefit to showing up early to an interview. If your interviews scheduled for eight o'clock PM show up at 7 58 don't show up. Ah, half an hour early. Don't make someone feel out of place or awkward, but you always want to be a little bit ahead. If you're talking to someone in an ethnographic sense in home interview, you want to make sure they don't clean up for you. Everyone's house is messy. Everyone is disheveled. If you show up early, you get a really good sense of who the person actually is and that also humanizes them and humanizes you as well. If you show up on time to something at exactly the moment it starts, it's also this weird kind of calculated snap into grid mentality that makes people feel weird. It's not only time that you wanna surprise with you want to surprise with small little tidbits of information that you know about that person's background, and those pieces of information don't have to be creepier scary. But for example, if you had read before you walked in the room on LinkedIn or on Facebook, that they were from Growth Dakota. And you knew that your dad was from North Dakota. You could mention a small comment about, like, my dad was like, Oh my God, I'm wrote the CO two. And that piece of surprise makes people open up a swell. For whatever reason, I always use North Dakota, but there probably is your own example that you use also. 6. BUILD CONNECTIONS: the best way to build connections is through smut, Sports teams, Music University and the news. Those four things are common characteristics for almost anyone you're gonna talk to. Sports are a really good way of building connections. It's very easy. It's a total copout, but it works. If you're conducting interviews in San Antonio, how did the Spurs to last night? If you're conducting interviews in Seattle, have the Mariners do. It doesn't matter what someone says. It doesn't matter their opinion about it. It just opens up that can of worms allowed you to have that discussion and that discussions shouldn't be about sports. But sports give a little bit of a passionate playback to you that allows you to have a mortar authentic interaction Moving forward in the interview. The music you liked when you were 14 is your favorite music for the rest of your life. It almost never changes just by someone's age. You can reference musical acts from that time when that person was 14. That will cause you to have a little bit more connection with them and a little bit more natural interaction. A way of doing that also is not by calling out Hate You like Run DMC. Hey, do that. The Grateful Dead. Instead, throw in a little piece of song lyric from a song while you question someone that you prepared in advance and make it seem natural. It's a simple trick that allows someone to beat, to recognize and have that higher order functioning of this person totally gets me. I use the Lion King Little Mermaid. So I start off often by saying, Look at this stuff. Isn't it neat? Wouldn't you think my whole collection is complete? And suddenly people have this really nice warm feeling around that the smile it helps build break tension down for whatever reason, even though universities they're all pretty much the same thing. Universities air really good places to play. When you're trying to build a connection, you see, like bumper stickers on cars. What universe December went to. You can look it up on linked in reference it back when you talk to some walk into a room, for example. I went to Texas and I could give my longhorn symbol right away, and it gives an instant connection to someone, and the news is probably the easiest thing to talk about, but it also could be a double edged sword. You don't want to talk about politics. You don't want to talk about anything that's even remotely controversial. So I generally, with the news, I'll talk about ridiculous kind of page three stories that don't really mean much that have very that everyone has a viewpoint on like, Wow, how crazy was that? So, for example, here the highway was closed last night because of a snowstorm, and I've managed to refer to that in an interview I did earlier today. I wasn't crazy with the highway last night again. Stupid, easy, simple, low hanging fruit that allows you to connect. 7. LOVE OVER LIKE: some connection. Points work extremely well. People don't just like blank. They love blank. Think about some examples of what could go in those blanks. What are some things that people don't just like? A little bit. They love people don't just like wine. They love wine. They can talk to you about the best vintage of Shibly. They can discern all the different communities and people don't just like Star Wars, they love Star Wars. They dress up like C three PO on Halloween. Maybe even on Christmas. People don't just like the wire. They love the wire. They don't just think the wires nok show. They think, Oh my God, Omar is coming. If you can think about the things that people don't just like but love, you'll do very well. A building connections again. This is not meant to be the content of your interview. That's part of your discussion guide and what you're trying to get through. The's are meant to be little tricks to make things more authentic and natural 8. PLAY DUMB: you never, ever, ever should show all of your cards. When you walk into an interview, you should know lots. But say little when you walk in, you should know the answers to all of the questions you're going to be asking someone, and you should know kind of how they are going to answer them. But you should play that as dumb as you possibly can. Your job is to listen, not to be the new It'll generally people who are asked to do interviews are relatively well informed individuals. But don't be one. You should walk in as dumb as a rock and just listen to what's going on. No, lots say little. 9. THE FOLLY OF FRIENDSHIP: You have to remember that even though you're talking to someone that an intimate level looking at their eyes, shaking their hands, smiling, doing all the niceties, You are not their friend. Anything they say should not help or hurt your feelings. They're not gonna offend you in any way. They're not gonna make you feel sad or happy. You are not their friend. Don't forget that at all. However, they should not know that you are not their friend. Basic things. This guy's my best friend or this woman's my best friend. And you should know, remember that you're not their friend. So you're not their friend, but they should not know that, and you should not remember that. 10. SHOW AND TELL: when you're talking to someone, let them show you and tell you what they're trying to say. Even though you may know every single thing about a certain topic. And even though we've heard the same responses over and over again in various interviews, you've done one segment. You should always use words like I don't really know anything about this. Can you explain it to me? Can you show me? Can you tell me we often will ask respondents to explain it to me like I was five explained to me that I was a child. It doesn't matter how simple and how easy the words come out of their mouth, about how they're explaining something. The mawr detail they give to you, the more useful it is for you. 11. THE POWER OF REPETITION: there's a distinct power to repetition. You should ask people the same question several times in different ways. And the more they explain to you, every single iteration will add a little bit more to the conversation. Have you heard anything good recently? Who's the last person you saw in concert? If you could get a ticket to any show, what would be and why I have a rental car. What radio stations? Right here. Any good? What's in your Spotify playlist? What do you listen, Teoh? 12. BE VERY SPECIFIC: do not ask your respondents to answer questions with a yes, no response if they do. Answer. Yes, no asked him to explain what they mean when they say that Never settle for a yes or a no. The last word you hear should not be one of those two words. People tend to overestimate their own importance in stories. They'll use words like I. And then I went to this and then I did this. That's not always the actual case. The second thing is that time is always the enemy of reality. The farther away you are in time from a specific moment when a story took place, probably the less legitimate and ballad that story is, so always use that with a grain of salt. Asking for the specific details of event helps you out in two ways. Number one. It shows a lot of interest on your part, and that allows you to build a better connection. And number two. It prompts deeper revelation from the subject, and it allows them to kind of unravel themselves in a way that really shows what they feel about a certain issue or event. Never be afraid to ask things over and over again. Even if makes you sound silly. Always at Why? What do you mean? How explain, huh? As many of those beats is, you can add into that rhythm. It will help you along the way. Get the answers from the subject that you want challenge people on what they're telling you . What do you mean by that, huh? How did that work? Ask him to explain to you the process of how something came about. Even if it seems like it makes total sense. Let them explain to you the steps in the process. It allows you to really understand what they're talking about. Never be afraid to tell someone I don't understand. Even if you do, the natural human inclination is to explain and to help people out and try to give them a little bit of a ladder to climb on. And if you say you don't understand, especially after building a rapport and building that connection along the way, they're gonna be inclined to help you out. So you do understand, and you understand it from their point of view. 13. CLASS PROJECT: So here's the exercise for this class. I would like you toe find someone who's not you, another person. And I would like you to have a full interview with this person about something that you probably know about off the bat but find it out from their point of view. In this case, the topic is toothpaste, something that you probably know about. But I want you to take away your feelings about the topic and understand what that person's talking about. So right a discussion guide hell out some questions and utilize some of the tricks and tips you learned along the way in this class to try to build a conversation that's natural and uncovers a nugget of truth about how that other person feels about toothpaste and then write down what you discovered about toothpaste. From the other person's perspective, it's a simple topic, but it's a very complicated exercise, and we should get a whole range of different people giving different opinions on how they feel about various elements around the topic of toothpaste. It could be brands. It could be flavors. It could be textures. It could be temperatures. I don't know what it's gonna be, but I'm really interested to see what you guys come back with. Thank you very much.