How do you explain your UX process during a job interview?
What’s one of the toughest things to do during a UX Job interview? For us, it’s always been to explain the process you have followed. It can be completely different from role to role, business to business. You might not have had all of the say at this point in your career. But you know there are things any future employer will want to hear. Plus what about your own unique projects which didn’t evolve a business? Well… here are a number of straightforward, easy to follow steps which will get you properly prepared for your next UX Job Interview! 😉
Hello everyone. It’s Simon and Anastasija here to welcome you back to another episode of UX Clicks. We’re both senior user experience design consultants and we are here to be your own personal mentors. Our goal is to help you on your own unique journeys into the wonderful world of opportunities that lay within the industry of user experience design.
Today we are here to help you prepare with explaining your UX process during a job interview. We’ve got eight different topics which we think will really help you to think through each of your case studies. This process should give you a great understanding and a few cues on where to get started with things like, describing what you learned, explaining each part of your process, the areas which you were involved with, and finally how to share the outcomes from the work which you were involved with.
Right, let’s get cracking then. You might want to take some notes to refer back to so when we’ve finished you can have a think about how you would answer each of these for all of your different case studies. This way when you go for your next interview, which will happen… we believe in you. You’ll be totally able to move around your whole portfolio running through the projects you feel most relevant to your interviewer and the company interviewing you. Making sure that you have all bases covered. As we said… we’ve got you here.
Start with your why
First up. When beginning to talk about any project, it’s great to start with the why. Why were you hired? Why were you pulled into this project? This is also a great time to begin providing a little context. You can briefly explain whether you were alone UX’er or part of a team. Before continuing on to explain what the company’s problem was that you were tasked to deal with. Leading nicely into the particular challenge you were asked to help with and what you set out to achieve during your work within this project?
Cool. Yeah, this is really a good one, because it gives the person you’re talking to the context of how you started, and what was the reason you were there in the first place, what was the problem you were trying to solve.
How did research feature at the beginning of your project?
Second. What insights did you have about the project? Did you start the project with someone else’s research? Did you have the opportunity to conduct your own research? Did you have any analytical data? Quantitative numbers that demonstrated something interesting about peoples behaviours with the product you were working with? Did you get to meet any of your company’s clients? Did these insights have any impact on the next stage of your process? And if so how?
Next describe how your research impacted your process?
Next. Consider what insights that you gathered through either first-hand or second-hand research dictated your design process (ideally you are discussing first-hand research, although we do understand that depending on your company and level of experience this might not always be that straightforward).
Still, your research should impact your process no matter what means you used. Describe in particular what you discovered through your research? You can get specific here, take some really obvious insights so your story is really easy to follow and you don’t get to lost in the nitty-gritty of the project. Try and think as big as possible.
Example; We discovered that most of our users are on the go and like to be able to look up information while on their mobile devices. Interestingly they are quite senior individuals within their organisations and are mostly using iPhones. So, we made the strategic decision to develop a native iPhone application.
Or, it could be more design focused. For example, this is a color that our users are used to seeing through our marketing, so we used it as the base for our visual interface throughout the product.
Yeah, it’s really important to explain why you made certain choices for your product development and this has to come from insights gathered through research. Explaining this will not only demonstrate that you have an understanding of the user experience process, but that you are also able to implement change based off your research. Plus, most importantly you are helping to validate to your potential future employer that research is a vital part of the user experience design process.
Consider describing your approach to stakeholder management.
Next up is stakeholder management. It’s a question you should be prepared for and it’s something you will have to do within all of your projects. Particularly as you progress up with your career. Think about what your own unique approach to stakeholder management is. What were you doing? Were you having regular catch ups? Was it kind of one on one with your product owner? What was the process, how did you feed into the business, how did you get people on your side. Did you run individual stakeholder interviews? What was you or your teams approach to deal with the business and it’s stakeholders?
Consider how best to describing your approach to user testing
User testing and validations of your ideas is a vital part of any user experience design role. You should be able to recall from memory how you approach this. What were the challenges around finding users? How often did these sessions happen? Was the company doing this before you arrived? How did you prepare for user testing? What were some of the challenges around this part of your job? Did you communicate your finds with the business? Did you share anything with your development team? I could go on.
There are literally hundreds of questions on this subject and this really should be one of your strongest topics of discussion. If you are struggling to answers any of these questions above, then it really is something which you should focus your efforts on improving.
How did you work with your development team?
Working with a development team is another truly vital part of your role as a user experience design. These guys should be your closest allies. Your development team are the guys who will turn your designs into a reality. They can provide technical insights to things you might not be aware of and this could impact the experience for the customer. The strong the communication between you and your team with development the better the experience you will be able to bring to your users.
Depending on the level, experience and quality if your development team can greatly impact the experience you have during this process. It can at times be very challenging on both parties. Some people find this very easy. But nevertheless, whatever your experience is, you should be prepared to answers question on this subject.
You should be able to explain how did you work with development? Where they on site? Did you have to work with a remote team? Were you required to prepare assets for them? What happened when you discussed things you didn’t expect?
Here is a good time to slip into the programs you were using. For example, did you have to supply Photoshop images? Did you cut out the images? How did you look at cropping of images across a responsive interface? Did you supply screen designs? Work in vectors using Sketch? What type of prototypes? Wireframes? And which software were you using for all of these?
Provide clear understanding of your outcomes
Finally… and most importantly what was the outcome? What results did the business have from your work? What impact on the users did you have? It might even be the case that what you expected to happen, didn’t happen and something completely different happened. Whatever it is, it’s very important to talk about your learnings. We’re always learning and you should be excited and constantly motivated by your learnings.
This is not only important to talk about your outcomes and learnings but you want to demonstrate some form of impact and effect from the work you were involved with. Any future employer wants to know that by hiring you, they will bring this impact and change to their company and business.
This is also the opportunity to close your story. Round up your project with an outcome that is of value and describes some learning, even if that isn’t for the business. It could just as well be a personal learning. An approach to a project that you would avoid in the future. Or implement sooner, everything has value so don’t be afraid to share an honest reflection with your experience on that project.
The above are some high-level recommendations that we would suggest you considered answers to. Every interview is different of course, and it’s unlikely you will get to run through each project following the above. But, the concept here is to carefully consider answers to the above questions. IF you do this and you are comfortable with providing answers, then you should be able to naturally job from one topic to the next. From one project to the next, taking the lead from your interviewer. This is the ideal scenario and learning the above will mean that you could across in a very professional manner for whoever is conducting your interview.
Here are the questions we would recommend you prepare answers to, for each of your project in your portfolio.
How did you start?
Why the company hired you?
What was the problem you were trying to solve?
What research did you do to solve this problem?
What insights did you have from that particular research?
What insights dictated your design decisions?
What kind of interactions with stakeholders did you have?
What kind of validation and user testing did you do?
How did you work with the development team?
And, what outcome and results did you have from your project?
Like anything, the process of interviewing is something you will naturally get better at over time. The more you prepare the more comfortable you will be. Similarly the more you participate in the more natural each opportunity will feel.
Don’t forget, interviewing is equally as important for you as it is for the employer. You want to know if this company is a good fit for you, just as much as the company wants to know if you’re a good fit for them. Go prepared and have some questions you want answers too. We’ll put together another post on this for you another time.
Until then, happy problem-solving.
Simon & Anastasija