Hiring anyone can be a tough task and when you’re hiring the user experience (UX) designer who’s going to be responsible for how your website, service, or product works, you definitely want to get it right. To do that, it’s essential to ask the right questions.
Here are our top UX interview questions, plus a guide to the answers you should be looking for. (And if you’re a UX designer looking for a new job, getting prepped for these questions will definitely give you a head start.)
What You’re Looking For – An Overview
Before you start asking questions, it’s crucial to be clear about the role you’re looking to fill, so you attract the right candidates with the perfect combination of skills. One area where there’s often confusion is distinguishing between a frontend developer, a UX designer and a graphic designer.
If what you really want is a frontend developer, your interview questions will aim to find someone who will take responsibility for coding your site or app so it works properly. In contrast, a UX designer is more focused on the experience of using your app or website, and making everything about the user interface work smoothly. Emma Scruggs, UX designer at Forix defines the ideal individual as someone who applies logic and rationale to a user’s journey – whether they are interacting with something on-screen or physical – by understanding their needs and objectives and offer solutions that make the experience frictionless and memorable. Meanwhile, when asking graphic design interview questions, you’ll be aiming to find someone who’ll make everything look right.
So, if you really want to hire a UX designer, here are some of the attributes you’ll be looking for as you go through the interview and hiring process:
- Teamwork. Design is often a team sport, so you want a player who can fit in well with your existing team.
- Communication. Your ideal UX designer will be able to communicate effectively with people across the company and feed multiple inputs into effective UX design.
- Problem-solving ability. Almost every design process has a hiccup somewhere. You’re looking for someone who’s happy to help eliminate the bottlenecks that get in the way of visitors or customers achieving what they want with a website or app.
- Specific design skills and experience. This will vary according to the project, and whether you need an all-rounder or a specialist UX designer.
Rather than base your hiring decision on a specific skill set, assess the designer’s critical thinking.
How do they go about solving complex problems? Are they able to translate intricate business requirements into great UX design? What about their design process?
These are the skills you should be assessing when hiring a UX designer.
As part of getting this information, you’ll ask potential hires about themselves, the work they’ve done, their design process, and their personal goals. So next, we’ll look at some key UX interview questions, and the answers you should expect. This will help you find the ideal UX designer for your next project.
UX Interview Questions About the Candidate
As a UX hiring manager, one of the first things you’re going to do is assess the candidate. Ideally, interviewees won’t give you a detailed personal history, but will keep it professional with a hint of personality.
Tell me about yourself
Ideally, UX designers will give you an overview of their education and experience, sticking only to relevant information. Don’t worry if the answer is brief. That shows the candidate can be selective, and you’ll get a chance to dig deeper with subsequent questions.
Why did you choose UX design? How did you get into design?
If your interviewees respond by listing the personal benefits, like earnings, then that’s a warning sign. And rambling stories going back to their childhood is another one. Ideally, you’ll want them to talk about key attributes of design jobs that attracted them. Candidates who are interested in solving design problems, or passionate about creating concepts and wireframing will be closer to what you’re looking for.
Why are you leaving your current job?
You may not get the real reason here, but ideally your interviewees will have a plausible excuse, like looking for new challenges, or learning new skills. Beware of interviewees who go on at length about the failings of their previous employer; remember, one day they could be talking that way about YOU!
Why do you want to work with us?
Look out for candidates who have done some research on the company, and know something about the team and the work you do. Ideally, they’ll be able to get specific about what they find most exciting about that. If they can’t be specific about what makes your company attractive to you, it’s another warning sign.
What are your strengths?
Good candidates should be able to identify the areas of UX design in which they are strongest. If they can’t, perhaps they’re not self-aware enough. From your perspective as a hiring manager, it’s ideal if some of their core strengths align with the requirements that you set out in the job description.
What’s your major weakness?
This is one of the questions that interviewees hate most. But if they’re smart, they’ll be able to answer it by having a weakness that actually works for your company, like being too focused on details. Pay special attention to candidates who give a creative answer to this question.
UX Interview Questions About Their Work
The next phase of the interview is asking questions about the work candidates have done in the past.
Show me your portfolio
When you ask this question, your ideal hire won’t just pass the portfolio across the desk. Instead, he or she will go through it with you, pointing out some of the best pieces, and briefly mentioning the design process.
For me, it’s all about the work. I’m looking for great execution and technical proficiency. I look for diversity of projects and thinking. And I check to see if the portfolio can scale across different browser sizes. The last point is really important for a digital designer. Do they have a portfolio built in a modern, responsive, mobile-friendly way?
Which of your portfolio pieces do like the most?
This question can help you determine whether an interviewee has prepped adequately for the interview. Those who have will be able to show off a couple of portfolio pieces and talk about them with enthusiasm. And that will be useful for the next question.
Walk me through the design thought process
This is one of the most important UX interview questions you can ask. That’s because the answer to this question can show you how a designer works, so you’ll know if that person’s likely to fit well with your team. Expect the interviewee to provide some detail on design research, testing, prototyping, tweaking and final design.
What’s the best project you’ve ever worked on?
Having shown off their favorite portfolio pieces, candidates should be able either to expand on a piece they’ve already mentioned, or discuss why a completely different piece was their favorite. With any luck, they’ll show some passion and enthusiasm here, as well as detailing the part of the design process they most enjoyed.
Give me an example of how you met and solved a design challenge
This is another question to help you understand how interviewees work, and how they deal with the inevitable setbacks in any design project. Ideally, they’ll be able to show how they were able to resolve the challenge. Look out for candidates who play the blame game – it suggests they’re not taking responsibility for their own actions.
How would you improve our product?
This question can be tough for candidates to answer, as they don’t want to be too negative about the place they’re hoping to be hired. But good candidates will be able to frame the answer positively, and highlight one area for improvement. This can also be useful for the company, as every potential hire may notice something different depending on their individual strengths or design discipline.
UX Interview Questions About the Design Process
In this next batch of questions, you’re really delving into how the potential hires work.
How do you define or describe UX design?
If your potential hire gives you the Google definition of UX design, then you know they’re probably not the right fit. Look for someone who has thought a little bit about what UX design is and can give real examples of it in action.
What is your design process?
When looking at UX interview questions about candidates’ work, you started to delve into this. Now you’re looking for more detail.
One important area you’ll want them to discuss is different ways of handling user research (qualitative and quantitative), and using tools like empathy maps and journey maps as part of the design process.
You’ll also expect them to talk about user personas, information architecture, usability testing, user flows, and more. You’ll want to see that they’re doing the right sort of background work before making decisions about the design approach they plan to take.
What designs/resources/websites inspire you or have designs you love? Why?
There are a couple of reasons why this is a good question. First, you’ll be able to identify candidates who are keeping up-to-date with the latest information on UX design. Second, it’s another chance to assess their design chops, as they get specific about what works and what doesn’t on specific websites. If they don’t have anything to say here, that’s a worrying sign.
How do you figure out what matters to your customer?
Here, you’re looking for interviewees to get specific about designing for customers, which is at the heart of UX design. Again, expect them to talk about customer personas, empathy maps, journey maps, and user testing.
How do you research new products?
Look for UX designers who can get specific about the process of preparing for a design project by doing research among potential users. Ideally, they should be able to discuss qualitative and quantitative methods, including user interviews, user testing, usability testing, and more.
What are your favorite UX design tools?
Every design team has its favorite tools, and yours is no exception. It’s easier for you if your UX design hires like and use the tools your team uses. If they’re using Photoshop, and your team is using Sketch or Slickplan, there’ll be a problem. Here’s some homework for you (if you’re not on the design team): check with your team and see what they’re using. Then you can make a reasoned assessment at interview time.
Having said that, tools aren’t everything, as Dylan Ortega of EnjoyHQ points out:
It’s important that your candidates know their way around industry-standard tools, but knowing a software program inside and out is no substitute for mastery of design fundamentals.
How do you handle negative feedback or disagreement?
Every designer knows that sometimes people don’t like what you’ve designed. The question is: can your new hire handle it. Look for them to tell a story (briefly) of how they’ve dealt with this issue in the past. Ideally, they’ll have been able to solve the problem, and move on.
UX Interview Questions About Personal Goals
Finally, you want to learn more about what candidates expect from this role.
What’s most exciting about this role?
This is another chance for candidates to show their enthusiasm for being hired. Those who have prepared well will be able to pick out at least one thing they’re going to love.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
UX design is a fast-moving field, so you’re looking for candidates with ambitions to improve and grow. Hopefully, that means they’ll want to move up within your company. If you sense they’re using this role as a stepping stone to the job they really want in another company, that could be a warning sign.
Do you have any questions?
Similarly, it’s a big warning sign if your interviewee has no questions, because it kind of looks like they don’t really care. (They probably do, but how could you tell?) Expect good hires to ask some kind of question here, perhaps about the team, or a design trend, or something.
With these UX interview questions (most of which also work as phone interview questions), you’re ready to hire the perfect UX designer for your next project.