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5 Important Questions You Need To Be Able To Answer In The UX Interview

UX Planet — Medium | Guy Ligertwood

Question 6: How to Win At UX Interviews

20 Designers, 20 Weeks, 1 Question Per Week

Learn From twenty experienced designers as we go deep into one question every week.

This week we talk UX portfolio’s

Previous articles in the series (so far)

Intro Article: Get to know the designers
Question 1: How did you get into design?
Question 2: How your typical work day?
Question 3:What things you wish you knew when you started in design?
Question 4: What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?
Question 5: What do you want to see in my UX design portfolio?
Question 6: (you’re here) 5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

I wish more candidates would ask, What’s missing or frustrating on this team, and how are you addressing that?(Stephanie Engle)

“The designer is interviewing me as much as I’m interviewing them.” (Chirryl-Lee Ryan)

“Can I see your Sketch App file? Looking at the layers, naming conventions, symbols and shared styles help me gauge how organised a designer is.” (Adham Dannaway)

Simon Pan — Senior Product Designer at Medium, San Francisco, USA

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

  • What specific qualities have made you successful?
  • What type of environment do you thrive in, why?
  • What is the most valued thing you’ve done?
  • What steps or activities are necessary or useful to create a good design
  • Give me an example of a time you disagreed with a team recommendation. What did you do?

Ask me anything, as long as it shows you’ve taken some time to think about who you’re talking to and what you want to learn. The questions a candidate asks, reveal a lot.

Where can people follow you?

simonpan.com or on twitter

Stephanie Engle — Product Designer at Facebook, Menlo Park, USA

Nationality:

American 🇺🇸

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

  • How would you take what we’ve discussed 10X further?
  • What sorts of problems excite or worry you?
  • How do you want to grow?
  • What could we do differently?

I’m always looking for people with improv personalities. The best collaborators are people who say “Yes, and…” to build on your ideas; the strongest teams can riff and adapt to whatever’s thrown at them.

I’m fortunate that I’ve always had people like Christophe Tauziet (Christophe Tauziet) and Gabe Valdivia (Gabriel Valdivia) challenging me to think bigger and more thoughtfully than I knew I could; I think we’re still looking for teammates who can do the same.

I wish more candidates would ask, “What’s missing or frustrating on this team, and how are you addressing that?”.

Interviews tend to be pretty rosy about the work when most of your life at a company is navigating and growing with the team that does it.

Where can people follow you?

On Twitter

Andrew Doherty — CEO, Another.ai, Berlin, Germany

Formerly Product Design Manager at Google, Mountain View

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

  • What’s the best way to win a fight with a pig-headed stakeholder who wants you to do something stupid?
  • How do you get engineers to trust you?
  • Assuming you can’t get everything you want, what’s your process for triaging the things that are deal breakers from the nice-to-haves?
  • How do you live with yourself? No really, what makes a day a good day for you to the extent you go to sleep happy?
  • What was the name of the assistant/receptionist who brought you into this meeting room?

Where can people follow you?

My website or on Medium

Nirissa Govender — Product Designer at Standard Bank, Johannesburg, South Africa

Nationality:

South African 🇿🇦

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

Five Questions an employer should ask:

  • How would you define user experience design?
  • What is your design process? Describe the design methods that you follow.
  • How do you work with developers/product managers/other designers?
  • Tell us about a UX project that didn’t go as planned. (we all have one of these)
  • Can you speak to the difference between information architecture, interaction design, usability and user research?

Questions that a designer should ask a potential employer:

  • How many people are on your design team?
  • What is your company’s design process?
  • How do you see the design team growing?
  • What is the business’ view of UX design?
  • Do you do user testing? If so, what do you do and how often?
  • Where is the design team strongest and weakest?
  • What is your company/team culture like?

Where can people follow you?

My Linkedin

Adham Dannaway — Senior UI/UX designer, Contract/Freelance, Sydney, Australia

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

When I’m interviewing designers, I usually steer clear of asking them broad generic questions like ‘what’s your biggest weakness?’.I don’t find these types of questions to be an efficient way of learning about a designer’s skillset.

I instead stick to more specific objective questions about their previous work as it allows me to get a better idea of their skills and what they can add to my team.

I sometimes ask designers to solve small design challenges on the spot to get a feel for their problem-solving process.

My questions:

  • Can you take me through an example of a previous project you’ve worked on that relates to this position?
  • What was the problem in that example project and how did you solve it
  • Can I see your Sketch App file? Looking at the layers, naming conventions, symbols and shared styles help me gauge how organised a designer is.
  • Our app currently has a problem with ‘X’. Could you show me how you would you go about solving this problem?
  • On the spectrum of researcher to visual designer, where do you see yourself and why?

Where can people follow you?

adhamdannaway.com

Ben Huggins — Sr Interaction Designer, YouTube, San Francisco, USA

Nationality:

American 🇺🇸

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

  • What is your design process? Note: I’m always surprised by how many candidates can’t articulate their process for defining and attacking a design problem. Some misinterpret the question as “what tools do you use,” others overlook the role of research, and too many just don’t have an answer. Your process is probably different than mine — that’s OK — but you’ve got to know what it is.
  • What are you learning now? Who do you learn from?
  • How do you get feedback on your work? How do you give feedback?
  • How do you know when a design is finished?
  • Show me how you would approach {insert design challenge here}

Questions to ask the interviewer:

  • How does your team work with _____? (developers, clients, execs, each other)
  • How does your team practice critique?
  • If I’m here for X number of years, what will I have accomplished?

Where can people follow you?

hugg.in or I’m @bhuggins on Twitter and Instagram

Chirryl-Lee Ryan (aka Cheech) — Head of Experience Design at Isobar, Hong Kong

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

It’s a good sign that someone is genuinely interested when they are well prepared with thoughtful questions on hand to ask about the organisation, the work and the culture.

The designer is interviewing me as much as I’m interviewing them. You need to be able to talk about yourself confidently (i.e. off the top of your head, authentically from the heart, believe in the quality of your work).

Some questions worth preparing answers to include:

  • Who are you? What’s your story?
  • What do you do?
  • What value will you add?
  • What are you worth? What do you want?
  • Your biggest design success story in the past three years/career
  • Your biggest design failure in the past three years/career
  • What do you see yourself doing in 5 years?

Where can people follow you?

My Linkedin

Charbel Zeaiter — Chief Experience Officer, Academy Xi, Melbourne & Sydney

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

  • Why do you love UX Design?
  • Tell me how your previous work experience relates to UX Design?
  • If you could solve one problem in the world using your UX process, what would you choose and why?
  • Talk me through the steps you’d go through to get to a solution.
  • What was the most challenging project in your portfolio and talk me through your solution?

Where can people follow you?

My Linkedin

Audrey Liu — Director of Product Design at Thumbtack, San Francisco, USA

Nationality:

American 🇺🇸

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

  • Why are you interested in our company? How do our passions overlap?
  • What do you value as a designer — what are your priorities?
  • How will your skills help bolster our team and help improve our product experience?
  • What are the conditions that best contribute to your success as a designer? (e.g. the type of team you’re a part of, the amount of managerial support you need, the way you best receive feedback)

Where can people follow you?

My Twitter

Nick Babich — Development Team Manager, Ring Central, Russia

Nationality:

Russian 🇷🇺

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

My list will have following questions:

  • What is UX design? Why does it matter?
  • What is your design process? Describe the design methods that you follow. What’s your process for working with other designers, developers, or product managers?
  • How would you decide which features to add to your product?
  • Tell us about a project that you’re most proud of.
  • Tell us about a UX project that didn’t go as planned.

Once I’ve asked a candidate with six-year experience in UX “ Tell us about a UX project that didn’t go as planned” and he said to me:

“Well, I can’t remember any project which goes as planned. It’s a fun thing about our job isn’t it?”

Where can people follow you?

UX Planet, Twitter Facebook

Paola Mariselli — Product Designer, Facebook, Menlo Park, California, USA

Nationality: Peruvian 🇵🇪

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

1. Why?
2. Why?
3. Why?
4. Why?
5. Why?

Intentionality is key. Whether high-level product decisions or detailed micro-interactions, the designer should’ve carefully thought through the reasoning behind each design decision and be able to communicate it effectively.

Product design at Facebook is about more than just pixels. We want to make sure you’d be able to tackle all that the role entails.

For more on our roles: Facebook Design Careers

Where can people follow you?

Twitter or Medium

Kymberlee Ide — Vice President, Experience Design (CX & UX), McCann

Nationality:

Canadian 🇨🇦

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

I don’t have a pre-established set of questions for applicants during interviews as I tend to base my line of questioning on their skill set and previous experience.

With that said, I do tend to focus on two key areas:

How they think and whether they’re a good culture fit.

If you are interviewing for a job, have confidence in yourself and your worth. Be able to communicate your approach/process with ease, as well as the flexibility of it.

Showcase a desire to grow and evolve as a designer — don’t be set in your ways. And sharpen the soft skills, because these go a long way.

I’ve interviewed people who are perfect on paper, and then have the personality of a salad crouton in person.

As far as memorable interviews go, one of the questions I’ve been known to throw out relates to how they would improve the user experience of an elevator.

I’ve heard some interesting responses (and some brilliant ones), but the most memorable one came from this guy who, after pondering the question for about 3–5 minutes while slowing sipping his water.

He leaned right back in the chair and told me he would “definitely keep mirrors in elevators so he could check out hot chicks without them noticing”.

He didn’t get the job.

(And when you think about it, he didn’t even answer the question.)

Where can people follow you?

My Linkedin

Alessandro Floridi — UX Manager at Deloitte, Sydney, Australia

Nationality:

Italian 🇮🇹

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

My primary goal in the interview is to understand thinking process and the approach on problem-solving.

  • Can you explain to me what user experience is ?. I believe a candidate needs to understand clearly what UX means, at least for them.
  • I always ask them to show me a website they think is great and explain why.
  • Tell me about a time you failed on a project, what caused it and what mitigation actions you took?
  • Walk me through your discovery process step by step” it always gives me good insights on the candidate’s thinking process.
  • What are the things that make you get up from bed every morning apart from a great alarm clock? The UX framework is easy to learn so I want to understand what are the primary motivators of that person outside work.

Where can people follow you?

My Linkedin

Leslie Chicoine — Experience Design and Product Management Consultant, Denver, USA

Nationality:

American 🇺🇸

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

  • Why?
  • Why?
  • and why? (be able to talk through your choices)
  • How would you fix an everyday experience?
    For example, your commute, or the paper airline ticket. I like hearing multiple perspectives on a fix, such as what’s right for you, for a person with different abilities from you, and from the companies involved that might be trying to make a profit or engage more customers.
  • How do you handle pushback?
    I’ll find one thing in a portfolio of work that’s debatable, and I’ll ask the interviewee to defend it. I like seeing strong opinions that are weakly held (Bob Suttons article), that is, a thoughtful response to why it’s correct, but also an ability to chat through other potentials.

From there, I like to hear questions from the interviewee that show curiosity about the space of the company or product.

Even if the person has some personal experience in the product space, I like seeing them check their assumptions, for example, “I worked as a bar manager at X when I was in school, so I assume Y, is that true for your customers?”.

I want to see them interested or trying to make a personal connection to our customers with simple questions like, “how would you describe your customers?”.

It’s smart to ask questions about how the teams work together across engineering, product management, and other designers with questions like, “how do you decide what projects to work on?”, “how do you get to know your customers better?”, “how do projects move from design to engineering?”, “how do you decide what is good enough?”.

Getting interviewed is a skill, so don’t be afraid to practice it and actively work at getting better.

Where can people follow you?

My Instagram and Twitter

Buzz Usborne — Product Designer at Help Scout, Sydney, Australia

Nationality:

British 🇬🇧 and recently Australian 🇦🇺

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

I once had a designer come in for an interview who mockingly told me how he’d never used our product and that our competitors had done a far better job in his opinion.

Unfortunately, the Founder was also in that interview and wasn’t too pleased to receive that kind of unsolicited feedback.

So aside from being polite, I like designers to be able to answer ‘why’ they want to work for the company, and what attracted them to the role. It demonstrates that they’ve put some thought into the application and that they’ve done some basic research.

Even better, ask me about a specific project, design team process or background to a recent feature release, I love that!

At a previous company, we were also encouraged to ask “What do think your current boss would say if I asked what you needed to improve?”. It’s a bit of an awkward one, but it does encourage some humility, and usually, we end up having an excellent conversation off the back of it.

Of course, occasionally someone will say something like “Nothing, I’m pretty much perfect”, and that’ll tell me everything I need to know.

Where can people follow you?

My work at buzzusborne.com, my Twitter, my writing on Medium and my resume on Linkedin

Kylie Timpani — Senior Designer at Humaan, Perth, Australia

Nationality:

Australian 🇦🇺

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

This is a tough question because while I do adhere to core UX principles in my design process, I consider myself more of a visual designer over a dedicated UX designer. I’m the first to admit that I only just scrape the surface of what is truly involved in UX design.

That said, if I were asked to find a dedicated UX designer to work with me, I’d ask:

  • How do you formulate, validate and develop your design decisions?
    I realise this could probably be broken down into five questions alone!
  • How do you approach a situation in which you don’t agree with the majority? I believe groupthink and how easy it is to suppress your own opinions and questions in favour of the group majority can be quite damaging. Personally, I’d like to work with someone who challenges perceptions and feels confident enough to rationally point out when things don’t seem right to them. This can sometimes be an uncomfortable thing to do, but it’s also a core part of the job. It could be the difference between a good design and a great design. This question asks someone: “How much of your job are you willing to do?”.
  • How do you fit in in a team environment?
    It’s important to understand how somebody defines their role and responsibilities within the broader ecosystem of a project.
  • How do you learn? Where do you get your information from?
    There is no right or wrong answer to this question. It’s likely that I’d just ask this question purely out of curiosity and a desire to find new sources of information.
  • What are your interests outside of design?
    I’m not sure if you could tell already, but I’m a huge advocate of design being informed by things other than the design itself. After all, it’s our job to translate the world and without trying to understand as much of it as possible, how well we can we do our jobs?

Where can people follow you?

My Twitter and also on my Dribbble for haphazardly timed insights into my work.

Graeme Fulton — Writer, coder, designer at Marvel Gibraltar, UK

Nationality:

British 🇬🇧

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

  • What’s your favourite thing you’ve worked on and why?
  • Who makes up your perfect team?
  • If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?
  • Tell me about a time you failed at something, what did you learn?
  • How do you make sure what you design be can be implemented?

In my experience I’ve learned that I just want to work with good people, so most my questions are around cultural fit — most of the time the skills can be learned, especially if the candidate has 1–4 years experience and has decent work examples.

Rhys Newman and Luke Johnson’s NO DICKHEADS! article sums it up really well:

A Guide To Building Happy, Healthy, and Creative Teams by Rhys Newman (rhysys) and Luke Johnson

If there was a bullshit test, that will do too. For a better set of interview questions, Nick’s article, 7 questions you’ll be asked at a UX interview, nails it.

Where can people follow you?

My Twitter

Kaiting Huang — Interaction Designer at Google, in Seattle, USA

Nationality:

Taiwanese 🇹🇼

5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview

So far I haven’t encountered any “surprising” questions when interviewed, and I don’t think the goal of the interview is to challenge interviewees with difficult and unexpected questions.

Instead, I see interviews as a good chance for both interviewer and interviewee to have an open conversation to determine if each other is a right fit. Ideally, it should be done respectfully and honestly from both parties.

Interview questions can be funnelled down to the following directions:

  • Self-introduction
    How did you get into design?
    What inspired you to become a designer?
  • What have you done?
    Portfolio walk-through.
    Your design process.
  • Thinking process
    How did you make a design decision?
    How do you evaluate a design?
    (This part might include some whiteboard challenge and app critique sessions).
  • Teamwork
    Have you worked with designers/researchers/engineers/PMs?
    How do you resolve conflicts?
    How do you give/take feedback?)
  • Future projection
    Where and how do you want to grow?
    What excites you?

You can imagine that there won’t be “right or wrong” answers to these questions.

A general tip is to provide concrete examples for everything you say. For instance, to demonstrate that you understand the UX process, tell a story of you making a design decision based on user insights from a user study.

If you claim that you thrive in ambiguity, describe a situation when you’ve gone out of your way to challenge the status quo. The goal is to make your package more convincing by showing more evidence.

Where can people follow you?

My Medium

“A general tip is to provide concrete examples for everything you say.” (Kaiting Huang)

“I like to hear questions from the interviewee that show curiosity about the space of the company or product.” (Leslie Chicoine)

If you enjoyed this…

Read the other articles in this series

Intro Article: Get to know the designers
Question 1: How did you get into design?
Question 2: How your typical work day?
Question 3:What things you wish you knew when you started in design?
Question 4: What are the best ways for you to stay inspired?
Question 5: What do you want to see in my UX design portfolio?
Question 6: (you’re here) 5 important questions you need to be able to answer in the UX interview?

Thanks for the read, before you go

Clap 👏 👏 👏 if you enjoyed this article, so others can find it
Comment 💬 if you have a question you’d like to ask the designers
Follow me Guy Ligertwood to read all the articles in the series

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5 Important Questions You Need To Be Able To Answer In The UX Interview was originally published in UX Planet on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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