down arrow
person pointing to sticky notes on whiteboard surrounded by blobs and shapes

Product/Market Fit Research: How to Get More Out of Your Effort (w/ Templates!)

How to ask the right questions and shore up your screening methods to determine product/market fit faster.

Your next great idea is going to immediately have a strong product/market fit, be embraced by the masses, and eventually become an even greater product that generates a mountain of dollars.

… Right?

Alas, the world is anything but ideal. Many products fail — rates of anywhere from 40% to 90%+  have been cited across the interwebs — and for every great product idea, there are inevitably many more that will never see the light of day. The obvious way to avoid investing resources in a product that will fail is to do product research—particularly a deep dive into your product/market fit, which will help identify early on whether there is, in fact, a revenue-generating audience that needs (and will use) your product.

But just because product/market fit research is an obvious first step doesn’t mean that it’s one everyone takes (though they should) or knows how to do. So, how do you leverage product research to determine whether you’ve got a strong product/market fit? 

Below, I’ll address a few key steps to help you answer that all-important question, including:

  • A list of questions to guide your product/market fit study
  • A guide to writing a good screener survey, to help you identify the right participants
  • How moderators can stay on track during the interview
Ready to start researching? We’ve created a product-market fit template (and a few other helpful ones) just for you.

Step 1: Asking the right questions to guide your a Product/Market Fit study

In order to put together a solid product/market fit research process, you’ll want to get to the bottom of three key types of questions:

  • Your product market fit questions (obviously)
  • “Getting to know you” questions — the higher level ways to better understand your audience
  • “Digging in” questions that help you uncover and clarify pain points that your product can help address

Below, we further define each category of questions.

A quick note on asking questions: Rule of thumb is in order to get the most out of your questions, aim to keep them open-ended. So fewer ones that result in “yes and no” responses and more that require broader responses.

Product/market fit questions

Product/market fit questions, as you may have guessed, provide the baseline of information that can help jumpstart the product creation process and offer higher levels of certainty on whether your product has a paying audience.

Here are a few questions to begin with:

  • Tell me about your experience with [X activity]
  • What tools have you used to solve [X problem]? What did or didn't they help you with?
  • What's your team's current budget for [X activity]?
  • What problems do you experience most often when doing [X activity]?
  • How do you currently solve [X problem]? Walk me through each step of the process.

By understanding the above, you can better position your current product for success, or—in the case it hasn't come to market—make critical adjustments before launch day.

“Getting to know you” questions

Those The King and I songwriters were really on to something, huh? Brief musical detours aside, getting to know your audience is a crucial piece of knowing whether your company has product/market fit. Here are a few simple questions to warm up with:

  • Tell me about your role at work
  • Tell me about the team you work on
  • What does a typical day at work look like for you?
  • Tell me about your relationship with [X activity].
  • Tell me about your relationship with [X problem].

These questions help you get to the heart of the personas you’re interviewing, and in turn, the audiences most likely to use and (hopefully)derive value from your product.

Digging in questions

Once you’ve got a good sense of who your research participant is, you can begin to delve into the topics that will help answer your most important product/market fit questions.

Here’s a few to get started:

  • When was the last time you did [X activity]? 
  • What's your biggest pain point with [X activity]?
  • Tell me about how you currently solve [X problem].
  • What do you like about [X activity]?
  • What do you dislike about [X activity]?

Step 2: Create a solid screener survey

Of course, before you even get an opportunity to ask research participants about product market fit, you’ll need to recruit them. In addition to filters that you set at the project level, you’ll need a good screener survey to ensure that you’re recruiting the most qualified participants to help you get to the bottom of your research questions.

So what goes into a strong screener survey? We broke it down into three key steps.

Want to delve deeper into screener surveys? Check out our Field Guide on the topic.

Start with the big questions

Screening surveys are a process-of-elimination exercise — you want to recruit individuals with specific expertise, skills, and qualifications to participate in your research. 

Many recruiting platforms (User Interviews included) allow you to filter potential participants by demographics, platform/device, professional characteristics, and other criteria. This means that you’re free to use your screener survey to tackle the really important questions. 

Here’s a few examples of the other “big” questions worth prioritizing in your research study: 

  • Tell me about your experience with [X activity]
  • What tools have you used to solve [X problem]? What did or didn't they help you with?
  • What's your current process for completing [X task]?
  • What part of [X process] do you dread most?

Asking these questions upfront will allow you to disqualify participants that aren't a fit before they've wasted time (theirs and yours) on the rest of your screener, let alone your study.

Simplicity > Complexity 

Screener surveys aren't the place for the deep inquiries, so it’s best to keep things to a few targeted questions that set you up for more impactful product market fit research sessions.

screenshot of user interviews's screener builder
Using screener skip logic within User Interviews.

We recommend keeping the number of questions you ask to a minimum (think 3-5 questions instead of 20+), and using skip logic to make your screener easier for participants.

Cut out the leading questions

Telling people what you want them to say increases the likelihood that they’ll say it (whether or not it’s true).

For instance, asking "On a scale of 1-10 how much do you love User Interviews?" in your screener survey tips participants off that the right answer is probably "10 — you guys are the best!” 

In contrast, asking someone "On a scale of 1-10, 1 being "I hate it" and 10 being "I love it", how do you feel about User Interviews?”.

Since all answers aren’t as obvious as this one (ahem), it’s important to take this small, but significant difference in question tactics. Not only does it obscure your intention, it creates a higher likelihood that the participant will share an honest answer.

Step 3: Moderating the moderators

A moderator has the difficult task of putting participants at ease so that they feel comfortable offering their objective expertise—so it’s important to start each session on the right foot.

Remember to:

  • Introduce yourself and your note-taker (sounds obvious, but trust us, this step often gets forgotten!)
  • Remind the participant that you're there to hear their honest feedback, so any insight — positive or negative — is fair game
  • Ask the participant for permission to record the session (and then hit the record button)
  • Give the participant an idea of how the session will go
  • Remind them how long the session is and what you need from them

Make sure you leave a few minutes at the beginning of each session to go over this information without rushing—yes, even if you communicated all of these things in writing beforehand.

3 quickstart product market fit templates

Now that we have a handle on the elements of good product/market fit research, let’s discuss the tools to help facilitate the actual process.

Here’s three product/market fit templates (shameless plug alert) to help you get started implementing the three steps we outlined above.

1. User Interviews Product/Market Fit template

No surprises in this free template kit, which includes:

  • A guide to asking the right questions
  • A screener survey tutorial
  • A moderator guide
  • A note-taking template
  • An analysis spreadsheet

2. Miro’s Product / Market Fit Canvas Template

miro board product-market fit template

If virtual collaboration is more your wheelhouse, Miro has a product/market fit template that could fit the bill. It includes:

  • Areas to identify your target audience
  • A place to define your minimum viable product (MVP)
  • A section for competitive feature differentiation

3. Figma’s 5-Fits Canvas

figma product-market fit template

Figma’s 5-Fits Canvas—inspired by HubSpot, Reforge and DemandCurve—aims to help facilitate your startup's growth with a framework built to help you make the right decision early on to avoid years or months of trial and error.

Why product/market fit is “the only thing that matters”

The challenges of achieving product/market fit have existed, in one form or another, for as long as products have been going to market (i.e. a long, long time). But the concept of product/market fit as we define and understand it today was the brainchild of venture capitalist Marc Andressen, who famously said that it was “the only thing that matters” to startups aiming to build the next great product. Andressen has built a lot of equity to back up this bold statement, with his firm a16z being an early investor in companies such as Airbnb, Facebook, and instacart, to name a few.

He outlines much of his thinking in The PMARCA Guide to Startups, which asserts that “lots of startups fail before product/market fit ever happens.”

“My contention, in fact, is that [startups] fail because they never get to product/market fit. Carried a step further, I believe that the life of any startup can be divided into two parts: before product/market fit (call this "BPMF") and after product/market fit ("APMF"). When you are BPMF, focus obsessively on getting to product/market fit,” he says.

Thus began the emphasis on nailing down product/market fit across organizations, particularly those seeking outside investment from firms such as Anddressen’s.


Here are a few other helpful tools to support your research:

FAQs: Product/market fit

Just getting started down this product/market fit rabbit hole? Here’s some frequently asked questions we’ve sourced from our community:

What is product/market fit?

Product/market fit happens when you create a product that customers are willing to pay for. It’s typically not a one-and-done process, but rather a long-term, evolving process as needs change among customers. Achieving product/market fit is the holy grail for many companies.

What are product/market fit interviews?

A product/market fit interview is the process of talking to customers or potential customers to learn about your product/market fit. 

The goal of this type of user interview is to gain a better understanding of their pain points and what your product currently helps or could help them do.

Do I need to do other research before conducting my product/market fit interviews?

Yes, mostly likely. Product/market fit interviews can offer unique insights into your place in the market, but they’re not going to answer all of your questions. 

The type of research, however, will depend on where you fall in the product maturity spectrum. If your product is new or has not yet been released, you’ll likely look at the market opportunity and competitive landscape, for example.

If your product is already out in the market, you’ll likely turn to NPS scores or churn interviews for additional insights.

Do I need to have a working prototype to do product/market fit interviews?

No prototype is necessary. In fact, conducting product/market fit interviews is an important step before you spend time building a product.

Why? Because product/market fit interviews are intended to help you understand the pain point or problem your product solves, and, ultimately, whether customers are willing to pay for that solution.

Nick Lioudis
Content & Community Director
Subscribe to the UX research newsletter that keeps it fresh
illustration of a stack of mail
Table of contents
down arrow
Latest posts from
Templateshand-drawn arrow that is curved and pointing right