In a startup, founders and small teams wear many hats. There are a ton of things to do but it doesn’t always make sense to hire dedicated specialists.
One moment founders are the CFO and raising money and the next they are the Head of Product and deciding on a roadmap. As a quarter-end nears, the same people become heads of Sales, and as the time for a new hire comes they are running HR specialists.
There will surely be a moment when people who are not human resources experts would have to hire UI/UX experts. But how would you know if a designer is really skilled? What are the red flags to pay attention to in an interview? Or, simply put, how can a non-designer and non-HR hire a good UI/UX designer?
To help you with that issue, we have prepared a dozen of questions for UX designers to find the best hires.
- So, tell me about yourself
Recruiters often start a conversation with some form of this open-ended question, and for a reason.
First, it works as an icebreaker before the “real” questions begin. Such a start assumes a free-form response, where an interviewee can build the answer whatever is comfortable for them.
Second, the way a candidate “tells about themselves” shows how they can control their emotions, structure the information, and, most importantly, what are their professional priorities.
- Why did you choose to become a UI/UX designer?
This question reveals how self-aware a person is. How did they choose to become a designer? Was that a conscious decision? Or did they just decide to try it and see how it goes?
The answers they give, as well as the words they choose to express them, can offer a number of clues about their ability to be reflective.
- How does great design differ from poor design?
Good designers will have their own specific definition of great UX. Or they will be able to coin one. Anyway, they will sound confident and specific rather than generic and vague.
Technical questions are probably the most important part of the UX designer interview because it is complicated to evaluate them properly when you are not a professional in the field.
- Tell me about some of your favorite examples of good UX.
When asking this question, you want to see whether a candidate understands the elements of a good user experience. Moreover, to give a proper answer one has to be interested in the profession and monitor UX best practices.
- Tell me about this project from your portfolio. What was your part of the work?
Ask this question if the projects presented in the portfolio are a result of teamwork. From here on, you can continue asking about how candidates’ teamwork skills, their ability to cooperate with fellow designers and developers.
Ideally, by the moment of the interview, you would already have a general understanding of the candidate’s skills by seeing their test task. It will enable you to ask a couple of detailed questions.
- What was the logic behind this decision?
The solutions a designer made running a test task, good or bad, are no less important than the logic behind those solutions. Ask a candidate to explain their way of thinking. Thus, you can get a feel for their reasoning and decision-making methods.
- Please guide me through the user flow.
Asking a designer to walk in users’ shoes you can clearly see the level of candidate’s empathy, the most important designers’ soft skill. Don’t the interviewee sacrifices clarity for cleverness? Doesn’t their design lack logic in the transitions between stations? Or maybe they create for machines, not people?
“If you were a dog, which breed would you be, and why?”
Such a question may sound ridiculous, especially when an interviewer who asks it sits in a suit and a tie, with that serious face. Big corporations are famous for asking things that make candidates raise their eyebrows.
Google asks how many cows are in Canada. Amazon asks how would you cure world hunger. Apple asks you if coconut is a fruit. It may look like companies are making fun of candidates, but they are not. They are trying to throw interviewees off the basic model with its canned answers to predictable questions. Such questions show how people think and make decisions in unpredictable situations.
For UI/UX designers, though, there is a simpler way to create an unpredictable situation. You may just ask one of those obvious questions:
- What is design?
- What is an interface?
- Why is user experience important?
Such “stupid” questions ask about things so fundamental that everyone assumes the answer to be obvious. But when the question is taken seriously, it often turns out to be not obvious at all. The simplest question can confuse even experienced designers, being basic and unexpected at the same time. Ask them, and you will be able to observe the candidate’s thinking process in action.
Start the conversation with some general questions about the designers’ professional path and things they value in a profession.
Continue with technical questions about their design process and past experience. If a candidate has already done a test task for you, there are plenty of questions you may ask to understand a person’s way of thinking better.
Finally, you may ask some “strange” questions, called to uncover candidates’ personality traits that can’t be determined from a resume or a two-minute drill.
Don’t forget to give the room for a candidate to ask their own questions — the way people ask (or refuse to ask) may provide information on their interest and motivation crucial for your final decision. But whatever decision you come to, always communicate it to a candidate. Don’t make people wait for the grass to grow (and that HR to call them back).