Nine Things to Consider Before Setting Up Your Jobs to be Done Interviews

Andrea F Hill
3 min readOct 30, 2017

Jobs to be Done interviews (JTBD interviews) are a great way to gather unique customer insights you can use to transform your business — if done correctly.

The theory behind Jobs to be Done is that customers have progress they want to make in their lives. They hire products and services they believe will help them get the job done (under specific circumstances).

Armed with the understanding of the progress their customer is trying to make and how he’s struggling to move forward, an organization can make changes across a variety of departments.

  • Product and Engineering have a clearer sense of what the customer needs the product to help him do.
  • Sales and Marketing can position the offering in terms that resonate with the customer’s struggle and desired outcome (rather than the more typical price and feature conversations).

Yes, shifting to a Jobs to be Done mindset can fundamentally change how an organization engages with their customer.

But only if the initial research and insights are sound.

That means making sure you’re talking to the right people under the right circumstances, and focusing on the right things.

The Right People

  1. Talk to decision-makers. You want people who were actively engaged in the decision to switch to or from the product.
  2. Talk to people who’ve made a switch within the past 90 days. Further back than that, and the details will be fuzzy.
  3. Talk to people on their own. JTBD interviews aren’t the time for groupthink. You want to dig deep into an individual’s story, not a generic collective.

The Right Circumstances

  1. Give yourself close to an hour for the interview. You need to have the time to draw out non-obvious details. In fact, that’s where the magic lies: beneath what’s top-of-mind and obvious.
  2. Create a comfortable, open environment. Assure customers that this isn’t any sort of sales call. There are no wrong answers, you’re simply curious about their experience.
  3. Record calls if possible. While it may throw the customer off initially, he’ll forget once you get into the conversation. This will allow you to be more present in the conversation rather than worrying about capturing every word.

The Right Focus

  1. This is NOT the time to ask for suggestions or provide details on how the product works. This is not a conversation about the product, it’s a conversation on how this customer sees the product fitting into his life (or not).
  2. Focus on the turning point. This is the moment the customer changed his behavior, and the circumstances that led up to it. This is not a conversation about the product, it’s a conversation on how the product came to be part of this person’s life.
  3. Learn about their initial interactions with the product.. delicately. This is NOT a conversation about the product, it’s a conversation on how well their experience matched their hopes and expectations.

With these nine guidelines in mind, you’re ready to start setting up your interviews.

Originally published at on October 30, 2017.



Andrea F Hill

Director with the BC Public Service Digital Investment Office, former web dev & product person. 🔎 Lifelong learner. Unapologetic introvert