Structure your interviews
You found your persona, next you want to get some quality insight and you will need to ask the right questions.
It's very important to prepare the structure of the conversation you want to hold with your target audience. The key to remember is that it's not intended to be a script. This is just an open discussion with a few questions that you want answered. It helps you to validate or invalidate your assumptions that you hold about your customers and their problems.
The golden rule is to always ask open ended questions. The important part is to really make sure that your customers open up and explain the story and the reasons behind it. Once you get an answer that is just based on the surface level, you can very quickly get to the cause of something by asking why.
To give you an example of the steps that I would go through and the process that I would use, I would like to use the example problem of international students and their issue with gaining work experience:
To get the process started off, I will create an initial persona around my international students. In specific, I want to paint a picture of the demographics that they're in. I might choose a male or female international students or perhaps I would target my audience based on their studies.
Very quickly, I could get an understanding of the age group, whether they're married, not married, how long they're staying in New Zealand, and also I can then look further into their behaviour. What do they do? Where do they go? Do they socialise? Do they have additional extra curricular activity outside of their studies? Or do they go out on weekends?
Finally, I want to paint the picture about their needs, goals, frustrations that they have. By understanding their needs - mainly being job experience - I can also then make my assumption around the goals that they have. The key goal is to gain work experience and to get a job that allows them to get a visa to stay in New Zealand. Now, this may or may not be true, but it builds the persona of my target audience.
Next, I can use my persona to formulate my initial questions. Some of these questions may be: Does this behavior hold true? Is this demographic right? And, Do the needs and goals that I've identified match with theirs?
Following this process will give you a very good structure and basis for your initial interviews. This allows you to identify your target audience and also allows you to see whether you've found a pain / problem or need in the market that can be solved.