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I am currently designing an interview plan in order to make a persona for our products(an ERP software, already online). So here is the outline of the questions that i want to asked:

know your user (name, age, experience, working environment, etc)
know how they work
know their likes about the system  
know their dislikes about the system

could you give me some ideas?

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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Personas aren't about a particular system so much as they are about a need that users have and the way(s) they currently address it. Your questions depend on and need to fit into the problem-space.

For example, suppose you are in the research department of an auto manufacturer trying to design the next great hit. You might ask questions about the last time each person bought a car, such as:

  • What factors were most important to you? (Follow-up questions should emerge from this answer.)
  • What kind of research did you do before going shopping?

You might ask questions about the car itself, like:

  • What are all the ways you use your car? (Commuting, hauling four kids around, camping trips, etc.)
  • What do you especially like about this car?
  • What bugs you about this car? (These last two questions should prompt more discussion.)

From these kinds of discussions you might learn that Bob is a commuter who cares about fuel efficiency not so much because of price but because refueling frequently is a hassle, so maybe he would accept a larger gas tank instead of better MPG. You might also learn that Bob goes camping for two weeks every summer, so while he wants a small car to fit into those tight city parking spots, he needs to occasionally cram a lot of stuff into it, and you might think about flexible options with fold-down seats and the like. That's just one user; you'll talk to a bunch, learn each of their stories, assess what they have in common (affinity groups), and from that data you'll start to build your personas.

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Your answer sparkles me, a lot! Thanks. –  canhon Jul 14 '11 at 8:15
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Similar to: What are good questions to ask when interviewing intranet users for persona development?

Had the same problem; didn't know what to ask users. After some research and thought, I came up with the following:

Guidelines
Use Primarily Open-Ended Questions
Ask Naïve Questions
Ask People to show You, not tell you, when possible
Ask for specific stories,especially about anything you can’t observe

Conceptual Areas of Questioning
People
Activity
Object
Environment
Interactions
Communication
Services
Pain Points
Solutions
Needs
Objectives

Overview Questions
Give us a little background on your job.
Why and how did you become a/an ______
How long have you been working as a/an _____
Why do you work for this company as opposed to another one?
Tell me a bit about your industry, and your role in it

Domain knowledge
What associations/networks do you belong to?
What skills are required to do your job?
How do you keep up to date / get information about your industry and profession?

Goals
What are you responsible for in your job?
How do you define progress/success in your job? How do you measure progress/success?

Attitudes & Motivations
What are the most enjoyable parts of your job? What do you value most?
Are there any external (extrinsic) or Internal (intrinsic) motivations to do a good job? (such as rewards, promotions, perks, etc…)

Processes
Describe a typical workday. What do you do when you first get into the office? What do you do next? 
How do you do [a certain task]?
How long does this task typically take?
Where would you start?
What would you do next?
Can you show me how you do that?
What activities take up most of your time?
What activities are most important to your success?
Out of the things you do during a typical day
Are there any company or industry mandated processes / tasks?
What processes have you developed on your own?
Have you learned to do your work better from peers / colleagues?

Environment
How is your office organized to help you accomplish your tasks / goals?
Show me how you utilize your office to accomplish your tasks / goals?

Pain Points
What are the most difficult / challenging / annoying / frustrating aspects of your job? After a typical work day, what (if anything) is still on your mind as it pertains to work? (What issues keep you up at night?)

Tools & Technology
What traditional (analogue) tools do you use to accomplish tasks in your job?
What digital tools do you use to accomplish tasks in your job?
Where do any of your tools fall short? (What doesn’t it do (or do well) that you need it to do?)

Mental models
What kinds of people do well in your position? Why?
Compare Similar processes
A process, and how it may or may not have changed across time

Relationships & Organizational Structure
Besides clients/customers, who else do you interact with while doing your work?
Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
How often do you collaborate with others? How do you collaborate?

Projection / Dream Questions (“if it were magic”)
If we came back in X years to have this conversation again, what would be different? 
If you could build your ideal experience, what would it be like?

Wrap Up
Did we miss anything?
Is there anything you want to tell us? 
Is there anything you want to ask us?

To find out more about personas, and how to create them, check out http://slowmtn.tumblr.com

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etc is no good here - We have no idea what you specifically mean by etc.

location, occupation, biography, salary, online activities, hobbies, tech level, mobile comfort, social app use. In relation to 'the system': motivation to use the system, system goals, system domain knowledge.

When you are putting the persona together, you can add a photo.

Likes and dislikes of 'the system' are separate questions to persona research surely?

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