With the help from our experienced UX recruitment consultants, we’ve pulled together some inside tips on how best to impress at your next UX interview. So, whether you’re just starting out in the industry or are a more seasoned professional in need of a refresher, you’ll find all the information you need below.
Have your portfolio/work samples ready to display on your desktop, or folder on your table, with easy navigation to ensure no time is wasted in the interview. A suggestion would be to have a whole project outlined to ensure you can demonstrate your knowledge at each part of the process of UX and have the results or tangible effect to tie it in to a return on investment. If you have only ever worked on one part of the process and you want to branch out into others, ensure you go on training courses, improve your learning practices in this area, even taking a friend or colleague out for lunch in exchange for understanding new skills all of which should help stand you in good stead for any awkward client questions.
Elliott Hey, UX Director for the Usability Lab talks about the importance of showing willing- even if you haven’t had the opportunity to experience doing specific UX work (like personas) that you still have a go anyway in your spare time. Include this in your portfolio to show you are motivated to learn.
Understand What the Hiring Manager is Truly Looking for
What a job description will not tell you is what specifically the current team is missing, why the position is open and what personality would fit in well. A good UX recruiter will know all of this and more but if you are going direct to an employer it is down to you to fully understand and appreciate what the hiring manager is looking for, and how you can best describe the experience you have in those areas. The only way to do this is by asking open probing questions throughout the interview to ensure that your answers are directed at their needs and not at your assumptions.
Through careful research and questioning in the interview, you can easily gain an overview of the team as it stands and how you would fit in. It is vital that you sell back your skills against these points as you discover them.
Know the Questions to Ask and How to Ask Them
The questions you ask at interview can help differentiate you from your competition, so coming armed with a selection of meaningful questions can mean the difference between you successfully landing the job or not.
- Why do you need user experience and what sort of projects are you working on?
- How has the team grown over time and is it envisaged to grow in the future?
- Who are the biggest competitors and what makes them different?
- What are their major goals over the next 2 to 3 years and what problems could arise to impact the likelihood of achieving these goals?
- What specifically are you looking for the new recruit to do?
Potential employers will expect at least one or two well-crafted questions- “I think you’ve covered off everything” screams you haven’t prepared! As some of the topics may be discussed at interview, prepare at least 5 questions so that you have at least one to fall back on.
If you need some inspiration or guidance on potential questions to ask, take a look at our list of 20+ interview questions created with the help of HR and industry professionals we’ve worked with over the years.
Know Your Audience
Who you interview with dictates how you approach it. Those that have been through it previously will know all to well that an interview with an industry professional will be very different than an interview with those in a position where they may not understand user experience. In each circumstance, the information you present will need to be adapted to meet the needs of your audience.
- Interview with a UX Professional; If you are talking with a user experience practitioner then you can feel comfortable in explaining what you do in detail and use relevant industry jargon to communicate your ideas. Interviews with individuals from a user experience background will tend to be more in depth around the technicalities of what you do, the process you follow, your exact involvement on projects listed within the CV and an analysis of your relevant skills. Just because they are in industry and should know what you mean you cannot simply assume. If they ask you how you conduct user research or what a persona should include, don’t expect them to fill in the gaps, break down your process and be thorough with your answers.
- Interview with those outside of industry; Whilst talking with anyone else (PM, MD, HR etc), technical jargon will get you nowhere. This is where your ability to convey what you do and how you do it will really come into play. Think about the language and terminology you are using and simplify, don’t assume that because they are involved in a process to recruit user experience, that they will automatically know what you are talking about. If in doubt ask them if any part of the conversation requires clarification. This is again a delicate balance of appearing knowledgeable and a great communicator, without appearing condescending. Individuals outside of user experience may also struggle to understand where the return on investment is, or exactly what it is you do to justify your salary or rate. In this instance, educate the individual by discussing past projects and relating them to what the business or individual is trying to achieve and underline measurable’s such as; increase in traffic, sales etc.
Whilst you can't fully prepare for everything that could potentially be thrown at you at interview, ensuring you spend a signficant amount of time preparing will hopefully allow you to sail through the process with flying colours.
If you’re looking for a permanent or contract role in UX and would like our help or advice in finding your next role, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0203 397 4565 for more information.