Every business model validation instructor knows two things about customer interviews:
- Interviews are a critical entrepreneurial skill, and…
- Students, by and large, hate doing them 🙂
Customer interviews are intimidating, in large part, because students don’t know what to ask. With that in mind, we’ve been iterating ways to teach interviewing skills, and have found that students are loving:
A competitive game.
Our updated method of teaching customer interviews use’s ExEC Customer Interviewing Playing Cards with an online collaborative quiz game to show students:
- What their problem interviewing goals should and should not be, and
- What questions they should and should not ask
Fully Engaged Class
When you run this exercise, your students will be fully immersed in the lesson as they hurriedly sort cards into different piles and compete with one another using their phones to see who can correctly answer the most questions, the fastest.
Here’s what it looked like when we presented it at USASBE:
And here’s what one of the professors who tested this lesson part of our Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC) reported back:
Big hit tonight! Lots of competition!
Really got through on true purpose of problem discovery and what questions to ask / not ask. They are in much better shape going into interviews than my prior students.– Jen Daniels, Georgia State University
Step 1: Prep Work
To set students up for success, they need to do a little prework. Have your students watch this video on what to ask during customer interviews.
You need to do a little prework yourself:
- Print and cut one set of Customer Discovery Interview Cards for every two students.
- Get familiar with Kahoot; watch this Kahoot demo video, and review the Kahoot questions here.
- Review the answers to the Interview and the Objective cards here and print a copy for your reference.
- Print out one copy of the final interviewing script for each student.
Step 2: The Setup
Prior to this class session, familiarize your students with the purpose and the value of customer interviewing.
Pair students up, give each pair a set of the gray “Problem Interviews Objective” cards and give them a few minutes to find the six objectives they should achieve during customer discovery interviews from the 12 objective cards.
You also need to set up Kahoot and project that on the screen. Turn all the game options off except for the following, which should be turned on:
- Enable Answer Streak Bonus
- Display Game PIN throughout
Find detailed instructions for setting up Kahoot in the full lesson plan.
Step 3: Play the Warm-Up Game
Project Kahoot on the screen and read the first objective question aloud. Students use their phones to indicate if it’s a good or bad objective for a customer discovery interview based on how they categorized their cards.
After all students record their answers, you have an opportunity to discuss why a particular objective is good or bad for a customer discovery interview. Students will generally have different opinions for each of the 12 objectives.
This warm-up game is an opportunity for rich dialogue to help students deeply understand the purpose of customer interviews.
Progress through all 12 objectives, discussing each one as you go. Kahoot displays a live scoreboard – congratulate the winner after going through 12 objectives, but let everyone know this was just a warm-up game. The real game is next – to determine what are good and bad interviewing questions.
Step 4: Play the Real Game
Students now know what their customer interviewing objectives should be. Hand out the 24 Customer Interviewing Question cards, and students should identify which 9 questions are ideal to ask.
Now start the Questions Kahoot game and have students join. Lead students through the same process you did with the Objectives Kahoot.
Students record their answer in Kahoot about what are good and bad Problem Interview questions. This is another powerful opportunity to discuss why a particular question is good or bad for a customer discovery interview. Here after an example: “How often would you use a product like [describe your solution]?“, is that a good or bad question to ask during customer discovery interview?
Kahoot displays a live scoreboard – congratulate the winner after going through all the questions.
Crown the Customer Interviewing Champions! Reward them with some prize. Make a big deal of this to let students know how important customer interviewing is to entrepreneurs.
Step 5: The Interview Template
Your students now have a strong understanding of customer problem interviewing objectives and good questions to ask. It is time to give them an interview template they can use to connects all of the dots.
If you use this exercise as a part of the Experiential Entrepreneurship Curriculum (ExEC), we provide an interview template for your students to use. Otherwise, you can create your own.
After playing the warm-up and the real game, students understand why they should ask the “good” questions.
Students also understand why they should not ask many of the questions they would intuitively think to ask.
Review each question to ensure they understand:
- How to ask the question, and
- Why they should ask the question
Now is your chance to answer any questions or fears your students have before sending them out into the field to interview actual customers! But have no fear, your students are well-prepared with solid questions that will help guide their ideation.
If you want to help your students deeply understand why and how to interview customers, get the full lesson plan by clicking below!
Get the “Customer Interviewing Cards” Lesson Plan
We’ve created a detailed “Customer Interviewing Cards” lesson plan. This exercise walks you, and your students, through the process, step-by-step.
It’s free for any/all entrepreneurship teachers, so you’re welcome to share it.
In an upcoming post, we will share a companion exercise to the “60 Minute MVP” exercise. This will help students understand why it is critical to engage customers prior to launching!
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