What hiring managers look for in a UX designer
UX Design is a vast field, and each organization has its own set of requirements and expectations from incoming designers. Based on my own experience from multiple interviews and feedback from numerous UX leaders, here are some vitally common traits which managers look for when they evaluate candidates.
The typical hiring process
Portfolio – A candidate’s portfolio is used to gauge their understanding of UX. In this stage, candidates who talk about UX processes rather than showing finished UI designs usually will proceed to the second phase.
First round interview – This will be the ‘getting-to-know-you’ conversation, seeing how you approach professional scenarios and probing your understanding of UX. This first round is trying to work out where you might fit in an organisation and what support you would need to grow into the role. A good attitude and the ability to explain your work is most important in this round.
Task – There is some controversy about interview tasks being used as free labour. But when used right, tasks are a valuable way to get a sense of a candidate’s practical skills.
Final round interview – This will include the boss and another representative of the product or technical team. They will review your task and have a more technical conversation about your abilities and how well you collaborate.
They will ask you to play out some scenarios to see how you would approach specific challenges relevant to the business. And can also ask you what questions you have for them. This is where you can really impress them.
During an interview, never say that you have no questions, unless you’ve already decided you don’t want the job.
Ask probing questions that show you have a critical business mind. Make hiring managers persuade you to come work for them.
Other good examples are:
“Can you tell me how UX typically works in your organisation?”
“What made you choose to work for this organisation?”
And if you’re feeling cocky: “What question are you scared I will ask right now?”
The Craft of Execution
The hard skills of UX design include a sound understanding of the UX design process, the ability to deliver results and an eye for detail. Hiring managers want results-oriented people who can execute, and create user flows, wireframes, prototypes and interfaces.
Ability to Work in a Team
There may be times when you put in a lot of effort, only for your work to be set aside. For example, you may create a set of pixel-perfect interfaces for a product feature. But then the entire workflow ends up getting scrapped because someone else discovered a new, simpler way to get the job done.
The portfolio is the most visible and tangible proof of all your skills and abilities. Use your portfolio to show how deep you can dive into a problem, present your grasp over the design process and showcase your ability to craft experiences. Hiring managers want to see stories about your process and understanding and how you made a difference in the users’ lives.
If there’s one thing that does not matter to hiring managers, it’s a certificate. When asked about the importance of UX certificates, the design leaders we approached replied with a resounding “Meh!”.
A certificate can serve as a tool to help recruiters figure out if you have the minimum skills required for a job, or that you value continued education. However, it does not influence the hiring manager’s decision to hire you.
Every organization has different requirements and expectations from UX designers. While most prefer some level of work experience, what matters most are problem-solving and communication skills along with an ability to deliver results within a team. Work samples or portfolios that demonstrate your skills and abilities can help overcome the lack of experience.