Popular examples of interviewers

I give talks every once in a while about how to do ‘customer discovery’. One point I make is to not ‘pitch your product’ but to ‘learn from your customer’.
I refer to the shamwow guy as what not to do, and Johnny Carson as an example of how to do an interview for learning.

I’m old…my examples are old…they are becoming or have become irrelevant. Can I get some more modern, up-to-date examples that people will generally or almost universally recognize as an interviewer. I think I’ll keep ShamWow guy, but I probably should find a more contemporary version of Johnny.

In the podcast world, I find Dana Gould to be the Shamwow guy and Marc Maron to be the Johnny Carson guy. Gould is usually funnier, but Maron is better at featuring his guests over topic.

Not sure what you are looking for. Interviewing customers is a small part of ‘customer discovery’. I found myself good at this when dealing with customer issues at the job I retired from because in a way I was an outsider in the company, had actually been a user and customer of the products in the past, and could readily relate to the customers. In my business previously I wasn’t so good at it overall much of the time, although when working with a partner I could play the ‘good cop’ pretty well.

Good interviewers start out soft, try to find the commonality between themselves and the interviewee. They also must appear to be genuinely interested in what the other party has to say. You may have heard the very same comments about your product a hundred times already but you have to make it sound like you are being enlightened on the matter. If you’re lucky your customers aren’t engineers or other aliens and know how to communicate with human beings. If your customers don’t like something, encourage them to rant a little, let them get that stuff out, in retrospection they’ll get to the important details but you also want to do more than identify issues, you want to find out how they feel about such issues.

It also helps to get interviews done both by experts on the product like you, plus objective interviewers who know nothing about the product and can only ask canned questions. The customers may respond quite differently in these cases and you can identify the subjects not brought up in either case and evaluate why they would be different.

Most important though, don’t fall into the trap setting up a methodology designed to produce the result you want, the same problem found in any such analysis. Always start with the assumption that all your assumptions are wrong. Except that one of course.

Thanks for your input, I teach the stuff you are talking about, but I’m not really looking for that type of opinion. I’m looking for a more contemporary highly recognizable example of an interviewer…more contemporary than Johnny Carson.

Sure. I was kind of hoping someone would come to mind while I was writing that, but no one did. There must be someone known for soft-ball interviews these days I suppose.

Terry Gross from Fresh Air on NPR, perhaps?

Chris Wallace. He could use the rest.

She’s the first one I thought of. She listens and asks follow up question BASED ON WHAT THE INTERVIEWEE SAYS. Such a concept.

This is a little out of left field, but consider this 36 second clip from Friends where Rachel demonstrates her “moves” for Joey. One simple question leads to another and suddenly he’s telling her his life story.

Avoid the part where she strokes his hand, however.