Product definitions are often the function of users. And, it’s for this reason, interviewing stakeholders and product users is important.

In earlier posts, (here and here), the importance of interviewing stakeholders was mentioned in the passing. Thinking its importance has been downplayed, I figured it needed a blog post of its own.

Who’s a stakeholder?

A stakeholder has influence and authority over the product. Such influence and authority, is often a result of vested interests. Such interests include:

  • a user that engages with your site,
  • decision makers within the organisation or
  • the development team that helps with product implementation.

Stakeholders include a wide range of users, teams and persons that have a touch point with the product.

Interviewing Stakeholders and Product Users


Why should I interview stakeholders?

Not knowing what a user wants, or how they want to interact with your system, could lead implementation astray. Understanding needs and wants are good product management practices.

How do I interview a stakeholder?

To conduct such interviews, is challenging. While most of the challenges involve understanding what they want, it also includes logistical hurdles.

Interviewing Stakeholders and Product Users - Dilbert

Source: Dilbert (

Here’s a typical approach to interviewing stakeholders:

  • Identify key stakeholders – Key stakeholders have significant impacts on the product. Example: An SEO focused team mate has requirements that range from URL structures to meta information.
  • Schedule meetings – Before meeting, share the context, and prepare preliminary questions. This will help when interviewing stakeholders and product users.
  • Functional walk through – When meeting a stakeholder, have them first explain their function. Also, have them include various touch points or dependencies on the product.
  • Document requirements – This is, often, an underrated part of interviewing stakeholders. Documentation helps posterity, and is the basis for future discussions and feature/road map definitions.

With this process completed, as a product manager, it becomes easier to identify business imperatives and shape the implementation of the product accordingly. Once this is in place, validating it with external user interviews will be key.