I am software developer and from time to time I am required to participate in the requirements interviews with internal or external customers for the product the we develop and maintain.

I tend and my approach is to gather as much as possible information before the session. Both from the customers and from the documentation and codebase of our product. I am trying to guess what the customer can ask from us, what our proposals could be. And also I am devoting much time to grasp the possible constraints, possible and prohibited uses cases.

So, from the one hand I am quite prepared for such interviews and my look is down to earth and I can go into details of uses cases, data models, etc. From the other hand there are 2 drawbacks. The extensive preparation exhaust time from our company's resources, it certainly costs something. And my mind is somehow shut closed. It may be possible, it may not be possible - who knows - but maybe good preparation extinguish the free flow of ideas and the creativity. These are fine matters, but still they matter a lot in good product design.

So - how much one should prepare for the requirements interview if e is participating from the developer's side?

  • 2
    The main question: how do you define the "requirements interview"? I have never heard of this concept before. Do you mean requirements review? Requirements elicitation? Requirements clarification? Something else?
    – virolino
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 12:35
  • 2
    "The preparation can block the open mind and approach" - Please explain this in more detail, I have no idea how to understand it. In which book did you read that? Or who taught you that? I am totally unfamiliar with the concept - probably because I always preferred to be prepared.
    – virolino
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 13:00
  • 3
    I don't think this is a question we can answer. What is important for your company in those meetings, good preparation or a creative open mind? What are they willing to pay for it / how many hours of preparation do they deem good value for the money they want to make? You should probably talk to your boss about it.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 13:18

3 Answers 3


note: this is a short answer, before more information is added to the question.

Is it acceptable to prepare...?

YES! Yes. Even more, in our universe is almost always better to prepare, than to be unprepared. It does not matter for what you prepare, you need to prepare.

When you prepare, you do not only make a list of what you know, you also make a list of what you do not know. And a list of questions. And a list of answers to potential questions that yo might receive. And you try to understand in which corners you might get trapped. And how to get out of there. And do on, and so on...

... how much one should prepare ...

As much as possible. The more important the problem, the more important the preparation.

The extensive preparation exhaust time from our company's resources...

Did you try to find out the "exhaust time" wasted when your company start building products based on the wrong requirements? If not, have a discussion with you managers, they surely can estimate.

but maybe good preparation extinguish the free flow of ideas and the creativity

Just wait until you find out the amount of creativity you will have when you are asked questions and you do not have answers. Especially in a "big" meeting between companies, when the managers expect "magic", and you do not even have coal.


... maybe good preparation extinguish the free flow of ideas and the creativity. These are fine matters, but still they matter a lot in good product design.

Creativity depends on a good grasp of the possibilities and impossibilities of the domain, the strengths and weaknesses of the tools and resources used. That information is your stage and actors, your orchestra, your paintbrushes and your chisels.

Sitting in a meeting inventing fanciful solutions that could never possibly work isn't creative, it's a waste of time.

The one risk of over-preparation is if you take without question some "generally-accepted knowledge" that certain things are impossible rather than merely difficult, usually-undesirable, or simply novel. Now you know that's a danger, you can head it off by digging a little deeper when something is claimed to be obviously impossible.


First, I'd like to remind you of the 6 Ps:


You can swap out Planning with Preparation and the message is the same. You should absolutely plan for a client meeting. There are 2 sub-questions that essentially form the Main question:

  • Does this preparation bias you towards one solution or another and
  • What is the value (in terms of your time/resources) for this Prep?

I'll address the first one - Yes, it sort of does, but if you are aware of this, it's likely to be less of an issue than you think. For starters, we as Humans always have a bias - whether it's re-using known working methods or discounted other methods we've had bad experiences with - we all do it. In the majority of cases, the differences between what might be 'optimal' and what we actually deliver is so miniscule as to be mostly irrelevant.

All we can do, is be aware of our preferences and regularly ask ourselves if there are better solutions available.

Onto the next question - in terms of how much time to Prep for a meeting - 2:1 and 3:1 are the regularly cited ratios, however I've seen ratios up to 20:1 for technical/legal issues.

That is to say that for every hour of Meeting, you potentially could spend 20 hours preparing. If I think about big/critical presentations I've made to key stakeholders in the past, 20 hours of prep (2 and a half working days) seems about right.

So long as your clients and your management are happy with the time spent - then it's time well spent.

  • Were you a squaddie? Commented Feb 13, 2023 at 13:55

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .