The Most Comprehensive List of Persona Interview Questions on the Web

Goal

We wanted to build the biggest list of interview questions for persona creation. This list should (a) be built from as many questions as possible to cover all aspects of persona profile creation, (b) contain no duplicates, and (c) have the questions sorted in meaningful themes so that they are easier to interpret and use for actual persona interviews.

Process

We came up with the following steps to achieve the above goal:

  1. Search as many lists of persona interview questions as possible using Google
  2. Scrape the questions from each list
  3. Collect them in one spreadsheet
  4. Remove duplicate questions
  5. Identify central themes
  6. Present final list

Findings

In total, we located 350 questions from 9 sources. The sources mainly consist of blog posts dealing with persona creation, and are listed in the bottom of this post.

The themes were detected by analyzing the interview question content for common patterns. We ended up with 10 themes that are shown in the table below.

theme definition
Demographics This theme contains the most basic questions that companies should be all be asking about theiir target customers. It help an companies target its consumers more accurately. Demographic theme divides a targets based on many variables such as Age, gender, family size, income, occupation, race, religion, education. etc.
Life situation This theme includes questions that are designed to find out more about the general day-to-day life of buyer. As well as offering insights into their core personality, these questions should reveal a lot about what products and services they’re likely to be interested in and what would be useful to them.
Working Life This theme contains questions about buyer working life such as their current job, current position, career goals,
obstacles and solutions in their job. Your buyer persona has grown up and gotten a job. Questions about their working life will reveal many interesting details about them.That said, remember that when it comes to putting food on the table, the decisions we make are often out of necessity rather than choice – and the face we show at work may not be an accurate reflection of the person we are at home or with friends.
Decision Making This theme contains questions about the buyer’s process in making decisions. Usually it will consist of stimulus; like goals to be achieved; problem awareness, evaluation, purchase and post-purchase. How they make decisions can determine the right product for the buyer.
Information Sources This theme are importan because companies need to understand how they buyer consume information. Do they go online, prefer to learn in-person, or pick up newspapers and magazines? If they’re online learners, do they visit social networks? To Google? Which sources do they trust the most — friends, family, coworkers, or industry experts?
Consumer Habit This theme contains the habits and preferences of buyers when buying products they will buy.
Marketing Team This theme contains questions for marketing team members so that their performance is more centralized to be able to market products efficiently by knowing the problems and solutions in both the office and the market so they can find the appropriate target market.
Sales Team This theme contains questions for the sales team member so that their performance is more centralized to achieve sales targets by knowing the problems and solutions in both the office and the market.
Pain Point This theme contains the problems faced by buyers and how companies can see and find solutions to these problems.
School Life This theme contains questions about the lives of buyers during their school days. What subjects did they take, what extracurricular activities they participated in, what kind of school they attended etc. As much as the experiences we have at school and college help shape us as adults, the attitude we have in our younger years is a strong hint as to the type of person we’ll grow into. As these questions can lead to conclusions, what kind of buyer matches the company’s products.

The Final List

Out of the 350 questions, we 74 as duplicates (i.e., the same question appears twice or more). After removing the duplicates, we ended up with 317 questions (91% of the initial list).

The final list can be downloaded from GitHub: https://github.com/joolsa/Persona-Interview-Questions

Sources

Carol Ann Tan https://www.sprk-d.com/blog/21-essential-questions-to-ask-during-a-buyer-persona-interview
Carly Ries https://www.smartbugmedia.com/blog/55-questions-to-ask-when-developing-buyer-personas
Kaitlyn Petro https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/buyer-persona-questions-to-ask-in-your-persona-interviews
Lindsay Kolowich https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/buyer-persona-questions
Mark Loehrke https://www.clariantcreative.com/blog/creating-personas-interview-questions-to-get-you-started
Sujan Patel https://sujanpatel.com/marketing/150-buyer-persona-questions/
Qatar Computing Research Institute https://persona.qcri.org/blog/how-to-create-personas-a-list-of-common-interview-questions/
Jesse Ness https://www.ecwid.com/blog/how-to-create-buyer-personas-for-an-ecommerce-store.html
Ardath Ablee https://marketinginteractions.typepad.com/marketing_interactions/2013/02/personas-in-the-closet.html

The Effect of Smiling Pictures on Perceptions of Personas

In this research on impact of smile on persona perceptions with Soon-gyo Jung, João Santos, and Jim Jansen, we find that persona profiles with a smiling photo result in an increase in perceived similarity with, likability of, and willingness to use a persona. However, a smile does not increase the credibility of a persona. Our research has implications for the design of persona profiles and adds to previous findings of persona research that the picture choice influences individuals’ persona perceptions in profound ways.

persona smiles

Salminen, J., Jung, S.-G., Santos, J. M., & Jansen, B. J. (2019). The Effect of Smiling Pictures on Perceptions of Personas. UMAP’19 Adjunct Publication of the 27th Conference on User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization. Larnaca, Cyprus: ACM.

Confusion and Information Triggered by Photos in Persona Profiles

For one of our research projects we investigate whether additional photos beyond a single headshot makes a persona profile more informative without confusing the end user.

We conduct an eye-tracking experiment and qualitative interviews with digital content creators after varying the persona in photos via a single headshot, a headshot, and photo of the persona in different contexts, and a headshot with photos of different people with key persona attributes the gender and age.

Findings show that contextual photos provide significantly more persona information to end users; however, showing photos of multiple people engenders confusion and lowers informativeness. Also, as anticipated, viewing additional photos requires more co.gnitive focus, which is measured by eye-tracking metrics; these metrics are correlated with levels of informativeness and confusion.

Furthermore, various interpretations of the persona based on the choice of photos are biased by the end users’ experiences and preconceptions.

Concerning persona design, findings indicate that persona creators need to consider the intended persona use objectives when selecting photos and when producing persona profiles. Using contextual photos can improve informativeness, but this demands more cognitive focus from end users.

Thus, adding contextual photos increases the perceived informativeness of the persona profile without being obfuscating, but multiple photos of different people do evoke confusion about the targeted persona.

Salminen, J., Jung, S.G., An, J., Kwak, H. Nielsen, L., and Jansen, B. J. (2019) Confusion and Information Triggered by Photos in Persona Profiles. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies. 129(2019), 1-14

Design Issues in Automatically Generated Persona Profiles: A Qualitative Analysis from 38 Think-Aloud Transcripts

In this research, we examine uses in automatically generating personas from online data using qualitative methods.

The increased access to data and computational techniques enable innovations in the space of automated customer analytics, for example, automatic persona generation.

Automatic persona generation is the process of creating data-driven representations from user or customer statistics. Even though automatic persona generation is technically possible and provides advantages compared to manual persona creation regarding the speed and freshness of the personas, it is not clear (a) what information to include in the persona profiles and (b) how to display that information.

To query these aspects relating to the information design of personas, we conducted a user study with 38 participants. In the findings, we report several challenges relating to the design of automatically generated persona profiles, including usability issues, perceptual issues, and issues relating to information content.

Our research has implications for the information design of data-driven personas.

Salminen, J., Sengun, S., Jung, S.G., and Jansen, B. J. (2019) Design Issues in Automatically Generated Persona Profiles: A Qualitative Analysis from 38 Think-Aloud Transcripts. The ACM SIGIR Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval (CHIIR2019). Glasgow, UK. 10-14 March.

Common Questions About Personas (We’ve Got the Answers!)

Hi!

In this blog post, we’ve gathered some commonly asked questions about personas. Got more questions about personas? Just send us a message and we’ll address your question!

Frequently Asked Persona Questions:

Continue reading “Common Questions About Personas (We’ve Got the Answers!)”

What is a data-driven persona?

A data-driven persona is derived from verifiable facts about the represented segment of the target population in sufficient amount for quantitative analysis.

An ideal persona is a proxy for a person. The person is the targeted user group, audience, or customer segment. An ideal persona is both describes a segment and predicts the segment behavior.

Data-driven personas come the closest to the ideal persona.

What is a persona profile?

A persona profile is the end product of the persona creation process. A common layout of a persona profile that is usually 1 page containing a textual description and typically one photo. The textual description will include, along with humanizing elements such as name, demographic information (e.g., education, job, age, etc.) and behavioral information (e.g., interests, goals, purchases, etc.).

Below is an example of a persona profile.

a persona profile
This is one example of a persona profile