How to conduct a Jobs-to-be-Done customer interview

If you've listened to my podcast episode about Jobs to be Done, or read my previous post about JTBD, you understand that it all starts with customer interviews, JTBD-style. 

During a Jobs interview, you're trying to uncover 4 main pieces of information... and 1 bonus piece of information:

  1. The customer's first thought
  2. Event #1
  3. Event #2
  4. The buy
  5. (Bonus) Post-purchase experience

Now let's review each one.

JTBD Timeline.png

1 - The First Thought

Here you're trying to figure out exactly when the user realized they needed to solve a problem.

Ask the user lots o' questions to get context around when they realized they needed to solve the problem. (i.e. - Who was she with? Where was she?)


Q: When did you realize you wanted to buy an online yoga membership?

A: I had developed a routine of going to yoga every morning, but then a big snowstorm hit Denver, and I wasn't able to drive to the studio. But I still wanted to do yoga. I knew I had to find some sort of online solution for this, as it was a snowy winter.

2 - Event #1

What was the 1st event in which the user converted from passively looking to actively looking to solve their problem?

Going back to our yoga example...

Q: So you knew you wanted some sort of online yoga class solution for the snow days. What did you do next?

A: I started researching online yoga classes and apps so I could get a session in at home. There were so many to choose from. I looked for about an hour one day, but I couldn't really tell which ones were good, so I gave up for a while.


3 - Event #2

Here you're trying to identify the follow up event that led to the user deciding to buy.

Going back to our yoga example...

Q: What did you do next? Did you give up on the online yoga idea altogether?

A: I stopped researching for a while - but then another big snowstorm came! And I was so frustrated I hadn't found a good yoga app yet. I was still apprehensive about looking online, since there was just too much information the last time, so I decided to ask my yoga friends in class the next day.


This is the main event! What exactly prompted the user to buy, and consume, the product that will do their 'job'?

Going back to our yoga example...

Q: What did you do next? Did you give up on the online yoga idea altogether?

A: The next day, when I went to class, I asked some of my yoga class friends what they did on snow days, and one of the girls had an app she LOVED. So I downloaded it - right then and there.

5 - Post Purchase Experience

Ask even more questions of the user's post purchase experience - are they satisfied with the product? Does it solve their job-to-be-done? Did they continue using the product or, at the end of the day, did they go with a competing product?

Going back to our yoga example...

Q: Have you been using the app on snow days? Has the experience been what you expected?

A: Yes! I have been using the app on snow days. I'm happy with it - except now that I know of a few other apps that offer free trials, I wish I would have tried a few before committing, especially since the one I purchased was kind of expensive, comparatively. But overall, I'm just happy to have settled on an app, and not have to think about what to do on snow days.


The Forces Diagram

If you're new to JTBD, remember that users are pulled to a new product (feature, or service), only when their anxiety is high enough to prompt them to change their current habit.

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"Customers do not buy products. They 'hire' a product or service to do something for them, to make progress somehow in their lives."