The Centre for Conscious Design

Design For Equity Interview Guide **

Guiding principles:

  1. Don’t suggest answers to your questions. Even if an interviewee pauses before answering, don’t help them by suggesting or prompting an answer. This can unintentionally induce ‘confirmation bias’ and get people to say things that agree with your expectations. Ask questions neutrally.
    • Don’t be afraid of silence. Often if you allow there to be silence, a person will reflect on what they’ve just said and say something deeper.
  2. Be aware of nonverbal cues: Consider body language and emotions. Does your body language show that you’re paying attention? Does their body language indicate they want to proceed with a question, or, should you redirect the conversation elsewhere?
  3. Stay on the same path of a question: Respond to what your interviewee offers and follow up to go deeper. Use simple queries to get them to say more.
    • “Oh, why do you say that?”
    •  “What were you feeling at that point?”
  4. At the same time, be mindful. Sometimes what people say and what they do (or say later) are different. Gracefully probe these contradictions.
  5. Treat them with respect and as partners in research.
    • Reduce any indications of social status.
    • Wear generic clothing and communicate in clear and accessible ways.
      • Don’t let your questions and rhetoric be overwhelmed with technical language – use layman’s terms.
  6. Always do diligent research ahead of time and come prepared.
    • Seek Truth. Avoid bias and conflicts of interest.
    • Don’t insert your opinion, let their experience and story guide the discussion.
    • Always go back to their personal experience and examples.
      •  Allow for pauses. They might need the time to reflect and think deeper into what they’re saying.
    • Be on time and responsive.
      • Confirm with them the day before to ensure they are ready and still available for the interview. 
  7. Don’t have a strict adherence to your questions – go with the natural flow of things.
    • Adapt questions to make them most comfortable – sometimes shifting the focus from them, or giving your own personal example, can make them feel more comfortable and less ‘in the spotlight’.
    • Probe them about what they say and use that to guide discussion; but don’t probe into areas they seem to avoid.
  8. Try to ‘fall in love’ with each person.
    • “Even if you don’t naturally click with someone, you can always find something you truly appreciate about them, whether it’s their voice or their passion for the topic at hand. When you want to fall in love with someone, everything changes—your curiosity about their life story, your body language, and your empathy toward their situation. These small shifts will show your interviewee that they don’t have to perform or show the “best” parts of themselves, because they can tell that you’re deeply on their side. Even after the interview, you’ll find yourself coming up with better ideas because it’s much easier to design for someone that you love.” (Ideo U)

General questions across all markers for interviewers to consider:

  1. Who are they?
  2. How do they see the world and structures of inequity?
    • How does what’s happening right now make them feel?
  3. What are their past and current experiences with spatial injustice?
    • Why do they think spatial injustice occurs and exists?
  4. How do they see systems, structures, and design impacting spatial equity- for better or worse?
  5. What do they suggest as avenues for change to create a more equitable society?
    • can they give any examples from their organization / local projects?
  6. Is there anything else they want to say?

Question Series Examples.

  1. Introductions: 
    • We will introduce ourselves and the CCD and then allow the interviewee to introduce themself.
  2. Let the interviewee speak a bit more about their experiences.
    • How did you first get interested in (their career field)?
  3. Circle back to re-Introduce the topic of conversation.
    • So now let’s dive into our topic for the day: Racial Equity and (career field/ relevant social system),
  4. Start by getting at the general concept and establishing a common understanding. 
    • What do you define to be the concept and structures of racial equity?
  5. Then go into more specific questions. 
    • In your (#) years of experience as a (title of profession), how would you describe the racial disparities you have observed in the (relevant social system)? I.e. in the (specific examples of social system – ex. in schools: classroom, school board, and school funding)?
  6. Always ask for case studies/examples from their experience. 
    • Can you give us any examples?
  7. Dig deeper, especially into what needs to change. 
    • What existing structures need to change to combat racial inequity?
  8. As well as what is working now. 
    • What existing structures are working well to combat racial inequity?
  9. Relate the topic to other sectors. 
    • How have you seen racial disparities relate to other factors such as wellbeing, socio-economic status, and housing – etc.?
  10. Get tangible takeaways.
    • Think about the here and now for change, Based upon your experience, what would you recommend as (relevant structural areas to their profession – ex. policy, legislature, and structural) change to promote racial equality? What can people or organizations do to work towards racial equity in the (area of profession) system
  11. Make sure they get a chance to say everything they want to say. 
    • Is there anything else you want to share with us today? 
  12. Off the record:
    • Are there any other people or organizations you recommend I or others speak with to get a better understanding of this issue? 

See Also:

The Nitty Gritty Process.

Our Code of Ethics. 

ID Method.

This interview guide is a part of the Design for Equity methodology. We further our work in our code of ethics piece and our more detailed back-end process. We’ve separated these works to keep everything streamlined and neater, but we’ve linked them above for you in our commitment to transparency. Please note that this interview guide is a work in progress and we will update it as our methodology evolves through practice and experimentation.