No matter how confident you are or how much experience you have, job interviews can make you nervous. Just the idea of sitting in front of a person (or a panel in some cases), answering questions, and getting judged on the basis of your responses is overwhelming. Interviews, however, have always held an important spot in the hiring process. Although with technological developments, we have shifted from a high volume of in-person interviews to video conferences and telephonic conversations, the overall practice stays the same.
When applying for a position as a UX designer, whether in a UX design agency or any other organization, the importance of interviews cannot be overstated. Nowadays, when the competition is on a high and there is a lot of saturation in the field, there is a whole series of interviews. An initial interview with a hiring manager, a technical interview, and then a final meeting with an executive member of the organization is a common practice. It will not be wrong to say that each interview is equally important but the most tricky one can be the technical interview. It is in this interview that your skills, knowledge, and your entire approach to the discipline of UX are assessed. On the positive side, this is also the interview for which you can prepare beforehand. In fact, most of the questions in these interviews follow a set pattern.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the interview process when applying for a position in the UX design industry. You’ll be introduced to important questions that you can expect in the interview, followed by the most suitable answers.
- What to expect in a UX interview?
- General guidelines for the interview
- Know thyself: Questions about your personality
- UX design: The basic concepts and processes
- You and UX: Questions about your skills and workflow
- Some additional questions
We will break the questions down so that instead of feeling nervous you get excited about your next interview. The journey of looking for a job will then be pleasing as well as rewarding.
1. What to expect in a UX interview?
It is often believed that when interviewing for the position of a UX designer, only your technical knowledge is tested — and in a thorough way. This, however, is only partly true. An interview is that phase in the recruitment process where important aspects of your personal and professional life are assessed. These include, but are not limited to, your compatibility with the organization, your attitude toward work, and your growth as a designer over the years. Even if the questions appear to be focusing on theoretical concepts, what the interviewers are really looking for is how you tell your story through the answers. It is, therefore, extremely important to keep an eye on the bigger picture and to tell your story in a compelling way.
In a technical interview for a UI/UX designer, the number of interviewees can range from one to three, including your immediate supervisor (if you get hired), someone from the human resource department, and another designer or manager in the organization. They will all have separate questions ready for you. Typically, the questions in a UX interview cover the following areas.
- Personality: There are always some questions aimed at assessing your personality. The primary aim of such questions is to know you beyond your resume and to see whether you’re a good fit for the organization. Since a UX designer has to work in collaboration with many teams and individuals, it is important to hire a person who is compatible with the work environment.
- Skills and knowledge: A technical interview is nothing without a discussion on your knowledge, skills, and expertise. You will face some questions where your comfort level with certain tools and techniques of UX will be assessed. Additionally, you will be asked a few questions (not many though) about some basics of UX design, some key concepts, and best design practices.
- Experiences and workflow: The interview, overall, is about you as a UX designer. The most important part of the interview with, arguably, the most number of questions is the one where your past experiences and your design methods are discussed. Remember, that this is the part where you tell your own design story, backed by the projects you’ve worked on and the experiences you’ve gained in the field.
To succeed in a UX design interview, you not only need to have a good understanding of the theoretical concepts but should also know how to make the most out of them in your design projects. Another aspect that is needed for a good experience is to know, and have a firm belief in, your own story. When your knowledge, skills, and experiences come together to tell a single story, that is when your chances of getting hired are increased.
2. General guidelines for the interview
Irrespective of the interview you’re appearing in, there are some aspects that remain constant. It is important that you are confident and have a certain level of surety about your responses. Interviews, however, can be overwhelming, so you need to find small reminders to help you stay focused. Remember that you’re called for the interview after a thorough screening process. This means that the organization is already interested in you, they just want to know you as a person.
The general guidelines also apply to technical interviews for UX design positions. Some of the important tips are as follows.
- Take your time: Listen to the questions and clarify any confusions that you might have before you start responding to them. Do not rush while answering. Speak softly and slowly so that the interviewers understand what you are saying.
- Tell your story: Make your answers interesting by telling a story about your experiences. Make sure to link these stories with the job description and your personal experiences.
- Be truthful: Be as honest and truthful as possible. Do not say something just for the sake of it. This doesn’t mean that you underestimate yourself. State your achievements and experiences but do not say something that you’re not sure about.
- Do your homework: Go through the organization’s profile and the requirements for the position. Make sure that you have a good understanding of the role, the company, and their work. This will help you craft your answers and also leave a good impression on the interviewers.
- Do not panic: Stay confident and keep a positive attitude. You’ve made this fat and that already makes you a strong candidate. You just have to narrate your story.
- Be respectful: Always talk in a polite manner, giving respect to the interviewers. That way you’ll leave a better impression on the people you talk to, thus improving your chances.
3. Know thyself: Questions about your personality
In the first few minutes of the interview, you’ll face some standard questions asking about your personality in general. These questions are used both to ease you in and also to know you a little better. Be careful while answering these questions as the first few minutes can set up the tone of the entire interview. So, try to leave a strong impression by telling something unique and different about yourself.
One of the most common ways to kick off an interview is by your introduction. Always be prepared for this obvious question. Prepare a short pitch (not more than one minute) about yourself. Some things to focus on in your response are as follows.
- A brief personal introduction, e.g. where you are from.
- Your academic background.
- What brought you to UX design. Try to make this a little unique by telling your story.
- What made you apply for this position.
It is a good idea to be a little creative in the introduction. Remember, do not just state your resume, as the recruiters have already seen that.
What are your strengths and/or weaknesses?
Before the interview, make a list of at least three strengths and weaknesses of yours. Try to find a combination where your strengths link to the job position and your weaknesses do not have an impact on the design practices.
Another important thing to note while stating your weaknesses is to put them in a way that you do not leave a bad impression. For example, instead of saying that “I find it hard to make decisions”, you can say that “I wait a little longer to make a decision but this helps me in assessing all the alternatives thoroughly”.
Are you a team player?
It is another common question in almost all interviews. While answering this question, do not go to the extremes. Instead, it is always a good idea to stay somewhere in the middle. If you focus more on individual work, the interviewers might think that you’re not suitable for a collaborative environment.
Therefore, try to craft your response by saying that you really enjoy working in collaborative environments but when given individual responsibility, you know how to prioritize things and set your own deadlines. This will show that you’re not leaning to any extremes and can work comfortably in any work environment.
Are you a leader or a follower?
If you’re applying for a junior position, leaning towards the leadership option might not be a good idea. However, if you’re applying for a higher role, leadership skills are extremely necessary. Be careful in answering this question.
Once again, the best idea is to stay in the middle where you give the impression that you know how to respect and follow your leaders but when in a leading position, you have the skills to manage the projects and to take responsibility.
4. UX design: The basic concepts and processes
Along with your personality, the interviewers are also interested in assessing your knowledge about the discipline of UX. Since UX design is such a broad field with myriad applications, unlike other interviews, there are seldom any right or wrong answers to these questions. What the recruiters are more interested in is how you see the field and what are the aspects of UX that stand out for you. Additionally, given the practical nature of UX. you don’t really have to memorize theories and concepts. Instead, you can bring all this knowledge from your experiences.
What is UX? What is the value of UX?
This question seems to be a theoretical one and the use of standard definitions can be one way to answer this question. But then, will that be a different, interesting response? Try not to incline towards a specific definition, focus, instead, on the gist of the experience and what you think UX is.
In all definitions of UX, the needs of users take precedence. Make sure to highlight this key factor and to give an overview of the value of UX. Think about the gaps that UX can fill in the market and how it helps the users and the organizations at the same time. If you know a couple of facts highlighting the importance of UX, do refer to such instances (make sure, however, that you’ve got the right information).
What is the difference between UX and other design disciplines?
Understanding the differences between UX and other design disciplines is extremely important for a UX designer. You can expect a question where this understanding of yours is challenged. Make sure that you know what UX is and you’re able to communicate it to people in a simple manner.
UX is different from UI and it is most definitely not just graphic design. When answering this question, make sure to highlight the overall impact of UX design on the journey of users. Since UX covers a lot more than just the interactions of users and the aesthetics of any product, it is important to bring these distinguishing features to light.
What do you find the most interesting and/or challenging in UX design?
This is another question where you can create a strong connection with your own story as a designer. Feel free to talk about the aspects of your work that make the entire UX design practice fun for you. It can be anything from the interdisciplinary nature of UX to the creativity involved in the projects.
If you’re asked to discuss the challenges, then be a little careful. You do not want to mention something that could hamper your chances of getting hired. Talk about a challenge that isn’t really significant for the position but present it in a way that leaves a positive impression. For example, saying that the unpredictable nature of users makes it a little challenging can be taken in a negative way. If, however, you add to it the fact that you always conduct thorough user research and have always enjoyed the research aspects of the field, this can actually work out in your favor.
Why do we (or any organization) need a UX designer?
The recruiters might ask you something like the need for a UX designer in any organization. This is where you get to advocate for all your fellow designers. Focus on the impacts UX can have in any organization — from customer satisfaction to better revenue generation.
Once again, if you have any facts and examples ready, do state them in your response. Be careful that your facts are right and that you’re referring to real examples coming from authoritative sources.
5. You and UX: Questions about your skills and workflow
Although the entire interview is about you and your place in the UX industry, there are certain questions that specifically focus on your design practices, skills, and experiences. It is, indeed, a significant part of your interview and plays a vital role in your selection or rejection. When facing such questions, make sure that you’re very clear about your skills and approach to the design of any product or service. Additionally, try to build a connection with the organization you’re interviewing for. This can be done by using one of their products or services as an example, This not only leaves a good impression but also shows that you’ve done your research before the interview.
What is your approach to a UX design project?
While responding to a question of this kind, try not to overcomplicate anything. It is a good practice to go into the details of your workflow but it is never a good idea to confuse your listeners. Try to link your approach to the accepted standards in the industry.
One way to save your recruiters from confusion is to have a list of items to go through — the more methodical you are, the easier it will be to follow your approach. Before the interview, break your design process into broad steps or categories, so during the conversation, you can walk your interviewers through the process with ease.
What are your inspirations in UX design?
Be honest and truthful while responding to this question. Whether you listen to design podcasts, read blog articles, or participate in online conversations or in-person meetups, do not feel shy to talk about them. Each designer has his/her own way to seek inspiration, so there is no wrong answer to this question.
Do not mention something that you do not do. For example, saying that you read all the latest books when, in fact, you do not will be a bad idea as in this case, you will not be able to answer a specific follow-up question. Do not make things difficult for yourself.
Tell us about a successful (or failed) project of yours. What did you learn from the experience?
We all have good and bad experiences with projects, and the recruiters want to know what your attitude is toward such experiences. If you’re asked about a successful project, make sure that you clarify what your contribution was toward its success. If, on the other hand, you’re asked about a failed project, do not put the entire blame on a team member. It is a good practice to take responsibility for your mistakes and to learn from them.
In either case, do close your response by highlighting the things that you learned from the overall experience. Whether it is something that helped you become a better designer or a better person, feel free to mention that. It always leaves a good impression on the listeners.
Do you have a favorite tool or software in UX?
Being a designer, it is quite possible that you are comfortable with particular software and love using it. The interviewers want to know about your expertise as well as the reason for liking a certain tool. Spend a few moments with yourself to think about software that you have a good experience with and that you really enjoy using.
When answering this question, however, try to think of a tool that is more collaborative in nature. This will indicate that you’re the kind of designer who is comfortable working in the digital collaborative environment.
How do you react to feedback? OR What do you do when your manager doesn’t agree with you?
Feedback is an essential part of the design process and it is not uncommon for managers to disagree with certain aspects of a design. Your reaction to feedback should always be positive. In your response, do give this impression that when the manager does not agree, it only means that there is room for improvement.
Additionally, focus on the importance of communication. State something like you’re always open to feedback, even when you do not quite agree with it. In such a case, however, you sit with the manager or the reviewer and like to discuss things in detail so that all the barriers are removed. Such a response will always leave a positive impact.
6. Some additional questions
There are always some questions that don’t fit in the categories of experiences and personality assessment. Questions about the organization itself, your expectations from the organization, and your interest in the position you are applying for are always there in an interview. It makes sense to have an idea of these questions and to be prepared for them.
Why us? OR Why are you applying for this position?
Your research about the organization and the position for which you’re applying is brought to light when you answer this question. Do not just focus on praising the organization. Instead, create a connection of your skills with the needs of the organization. It is also a good idea to refer to the growth opportunities and the work culture.
If asked about the job position, in particular, mention specific points from the job description that align with your interests and experiences. Remember to go through these details thoroughly before the interview. That way, you’ll have a very good idea of what you’re talking about.
How would you improve the UX of our products or services?
This is your opportunity to prove that you’ve done your homework and that you are passionate about adding value to the workflow of the organization. Do not try to cover each and everything, instead pick a single example. Bring it all together by linking it back to your story and experiences as a designer and to show you are the person worth hiring.
Also, do not make any big claims. For example, saying that you can revolutionize the design of all products and services in no time will only hurt you, both in the short and long term. Be realistic in your response and do consider all the limitations that you can face in the process.
What do you expect from this organization?
While answering this question, try not to talk about the monetary benefits. If you do get an offer, that is when you can negotiate your salary and benefits. At this stage, it is important to focus on the way you can grow as a person and a professional while being a part of the organization.
Try to state it in a way that highlights your thirst for learning more along the way. You want to leave with an impression that even if you make mistakes, you will be able to learn from them, bringing value to the organization.
Do you have any questions from us?
There is one thing that you must never do in response to this question and that is to not ask a question. If you do not have a question to ask that means either you’re not serious about the opportunity or you haven’t gone through any information about the organization so as to ask a significant question.
You can ask about the work environment, the management methods, or the collaborative nature of the work. It is also possible that some things are not clear in the job description. Now is the time that you can ask all such questions. Some of the thoughts that can keep you going are as follows.
- The teams and individuals you will be closely working with
- The methodology used for the management of projects in the organization
- The tools and software used in the organization
- The ideal candidate that the recruiters are looking for
- Anything that is not clearly stated in the job description
It is perfectly fine to ask more than one question. Another good idea is to open up a communication channel by asking them if you can ask anything later on, via email. Mostly, the recruiters will say yes to this question, and that way you can build a good professional connection.
Interviews for a UX design role can be tricky. It is, however, important to remember that there are seldom any wrong answers in the design industry. If you have a good knowledge of the basic principles and you enjoy your work, you will find the entire experience to be interesting. Even if you do not land a job, a positive attitude in the interview can help you in building new connections which can be very fruitful in the future.