Ace Your UX Design Interview: 10 Common Questions
You just finished your UX design program and are looking for a company to call home. You may have studied at Devmountain or elsewhere. You have learned a lot throughout the process and know that you have the capability to provide user experiences that exceed what you see in the day-to-day world. But even with this passion, even with this confidence, even with this drive, you still need to get your foot in the door.
Getting educated in UX design is a great first step, but it’s only the starting line to a career. Next, you have to show companies that you will provide value to their products, processes, and business overall. Although your resume and portfolio might help you receive the initial phone call, it is the ensuing interview that can make or break your chance at the position.
Here are ten questions you may hear when interviewing for a position in user experience.
1 | What value does UX provide, and how is it different from other design disciplines?
It is important to get into the nitty-gritty when asked this question. Employers want to know that you can truly distinguish UX among other disciplines (such as graphic design, packaging design, or interior design, among others). Talk about the benefits that UX brings and what makes it unique to any design process. Think of a product (or service) that has improved its user experience over time and use this as an example to show that UX is a crucial element of product evolution. Client-consumer interactions are important, so be prepared to discuss specific personas and scenarios.
2 | What caused your interest in UX design and why do you want to work here?
Ah, the obligatory “tell us about yourself” question that we mentioned at the start. Although this question may seem broad, it is important to give a detailed, memorable answer.
This is your chance to show the interviewer your passion for UX design. Tell the story of where your interest initially sparked, and make the interviewer feel connected to the field in the same way you did at the time. Next, explain how your interest led to your desire for a career in the industry and what your process was like in getting here today.
Finally, tie these aspirations into the specific company that you are interviewing for. At this point, you have likely researched the business and have identified what makes them stand out from competitors (if not, you should). Describe how these differentiators attracted you to the company and express how your efforts can contribute to business ideals. Employers love hearing that their unique attributes are recognized.
A possible response: “After clearly connecting with the interviewer on your passion in the UX field, when answering the “why do you want to work here?” question, it is also a best practice to capitalize on one of the many ways that company makes an impact or difference.
Remember that the individual sitting across from you likely has budgets, deadlines, goals and metrics to hit and due to the day-to-day of their role they may have forgotten the purpose or value of the company. Be the interviewee who reminds them of this. If they are an education company and you value the ability to shape minds, state that shared value. If they are a solar company, state that you too would love to make a difference every day like they are and help the planet (lofty but true).
Remind that interviewer of why their company is outstanding, and match their impact to your own desire to have a job with purpose and not simply a paycheck.”
3 | Tell us about the project you’re most proud of and one that didn’t go as planned.
When asking for these details, the interviewer is trying to see where your strengths lie and the extent of your problem-solving ability.
When showing or explaining your proudest project, be enthusiastic and show that there is passion behind what made it successful. Be detailed here and let your passion and energy show when talking about the project you are proud of. You want to show, not just tell, about your passion and motivation. Drive home the unique attributes of your project and the reasoning that fueled changes, ultimately leading to a better user experience than before.
In terms of failed projects, many people are hesitant to shine light on their shortcomings. They don’t want to look incapable and would rather present themselves as someone who never makes a mistake. But let’s be real, employers know that those people don’t exist, so there’s no point in faking it. Instead, they want to see two things:
1) Are you capable of recognizing your flaws and being critical of your own work?
2) How are your problem-solving skills; would you know what to change if starting the project over again?
Answer this in a way that demonstrates your ability to evaluate your mistakes and improve future products because of it. The passion which was evident during the conversation around your most successful project should also be present when you talk of lessons learned from failed projects and resolutions you identified during or after the fact.
4 | What is your design process, and how do you decide which features to add to a product?
There is no right or wrong answer here. All UX designers have a slightly different process to creating products or services, so don’t be afraid to share the mindset behind your particular approach (as unconventional as it might be).
Rather than talking about the process of designing for a hypothetical product, it can help to pick a real-world example of a project you have worked on and explain the steps and reasoning behind its creation from beginning to end.
What is important is that you show a focus on consumer-centric modifications throughout the entire process and have purpose behind every decision that you make.
Some steps to highlight in your process may include:
- User Research
- User Personas
- Map of the Customer Journey
- Experience Strategy
- Information Architecture
- Prototypes and Wireframing
- Interaction Design
- Product Testing
- Metrics and Analytics
While describing these steps, you can weave in how the discoveries and strategy of your process help to shape what features you add to a product. Staying customer-centric, describe how you analyze user personas to determine their goals when using your product. Why should the user care about a specific feature? Does this feature make the product or service more enjoyable to interact with? What problem does it solve and would they see value in its addition?
5 | How do you put yourself in the mind of a consumer?
For this question, refer back to your design process. Continually emphasize that all decisions you make are focused on the consumer’s experience using your product. Show how the initial user research, personas, map of the customer journey, and user testing all contribute to helping you better understand the consumer’s thought processes and what is important to them, even if they don’t realize it themselves.
6 | What are your research methods when starting a project?
Although you could let loose by stating every research buzzword you’ve ever heard in the industry, you could take a more authentic approach to this question. Tell the interviewer what methods of research you, personally, like to use when starting a project. This could be consumer surveys, face-to-face interviews, demographic analysis, or reviews on products similar to what you’re trying to improve upon.
Being blatant about the methods that you do (and do not) have experience with will allow the employer to have a better understanding of how to help you become a well-rounded designer for their team. Teachability will be key when having this discussion. Employer expectations vary greatly around their UX professionals and often the interviewer will benefit from understanding how teachable you can be in acquiring new methods or approaches to starting a project.
7 | How would you improve the UX of our product?
When asking this question, the interviewer isn’t trying to pry brilliant ideas out of you for their own personal gain. Rather, this question is built to see how much you truly know about the company and whether or not you have great ideas to provide, starting day one.
Prior to the interview, we recommend spending some time reviewing the company’s product, website, or mobile application. Take note of a couple things you could improve upon and have a detailed explanation ready as to how these changes could improve the current product in a meaningful way. When asked this question, start with your strongest recommendation, keeping your second choice on deck in case the conversation goes deeper than the surface level.
8 | What’s your process behind collaborated work?
This question might come in a variety of forms, including, “are you a team player,” “what type of environment do you thrive in,” or “how do you give/receive negative feedback.” All of these inquiries are trying to get to the root of one particular question: Will you work well in our team environment? Some of the specific questions being considered here are if you fully cooperate with a team? How you deal with conflict? How do you motivate others? Will you take the initiative to help others? Do you inspire, can you be asked to lead, and will you minimize conflict?
By nature of the role, UX designers must collaborate with many departments in a company. These include product managers, marketing teams, engineers/developers, UI designers, CEOs, and more. Because of this, it is crucial to show the interviewer that you will thrive in their team setting. Emphasize your interpersonal communication skills and your productive approach to giving/receiving negative feedback. In addition, drive home that you are not stuck in your ways and are open to hearing others out when it comes to new ideas. These traits are what employers look for when hiring for a position that will be working with others extensively.
9 | Where do you go for UX design inspiration?
Trust us, when asking this question, the interviewer isn’t looking to add to his/her reading list. Instead, they are digging deeper to find out whether you are a student of the industry. Companies hiring for UX designers want people who are dedicated to the field and commit time to expanding their knowledge while continuing to grow as an individual.
The specific sources you name here are not what’s important. What’s important is that you have sources in mind at all, to show your dedication to learning and improving. Be prepared with a small handful of your favorite UX podcasts, books, YouTube channels, or blogs that you follow for inspiration. Be prepared to explain why these are inspirational to you and potentially show how you are self-motivated and how you take the initiative to further your growth and understanding. Plenty of UX professionals get comfortable, and, to the interviewer, this shows. Speaking about your ability to take accountability for growth and learning will be noticed by interviewers.
10 | What will the future of UX Design look like?
Similar to the previous query, this question is to determine the degree of passion and knowledge you have for the field of UX design. While question nine was crafted to uncover whether or not you are continually making efforts to increase your understanding of UX, this question is to see how well you’re able to apply that knowledge to the world around you.
Showing that you have done your research and put thought into the implications of specific product/technology evolutions will go far in showing potential employers that you are forward-thinking and have a strong vision of the industry.
First, select which topic interests you the most. This can be anything, something you’ve read about, listened to, or researched for yourself. What matters is that the chosen topic is something you are passionate about and can be explained in a way that shows competency toward its application to the future of UX.
Next, handpick podcast episodes, passages from UX books, or specific blog posts that support your topic. Regardless of the medium(s) you select, having sources to reference during your explanation will improve your credibility and cause the interviewer to be more engaged.
Although we can’t prepare you for every question you might receive in a UX design interview, we hope that this collection of common questions (and how to answer them) will help put your mind at ease by providing you with different ways to think about what is being asked. Read between the lines, look beyond what the interviewer says, and get to what the interviewer actually wants to know. And at all times, let your passion and energy show during your conversations with recruiters and hiring managers.