Simple mistakes that might be wrecking your UX job interview

Having served as the lead UX Designer at a tech startup in India, I’ve recently decided to take a big step in my life, which is to move across the globe to the glorious Silicon Valley and venture out into the Mecca of the tech industry, and create my own brand.

Therefore, the last few months at my job were spent interviewing young UX Designers — in order to find the skills and raw talent that could not only fill the gap left behind, but also thrive in the startup life of UX Design.

Our recruiting process involved a portfolio presentation, a two-step take home task, a brainstorming session with the team and several rounds of interviews.

When you go through this process with over a hundred candidates, you start noticing a pattern in the mistakes they make. Here are a few that I’ve noticed. Maybe they can help you prepare for your next interview!

1. Giving more importance to the tools and techniques used, as opposed to the problem and solution

Even though journey mapping, empathy mapping, persona creation etc are great techniques to use, unless you can explain how they contributed to your final solution , the interviewer doesn’t care. Don’t get me wrong, the process you follow is quite important. But it’s even more intriguing for the interviewer to see where that process ultimately led you. And respecting the time limitations of an interview, that takes precedence.

My suggestion would be to first present the solution, then talk about how you got there. This would give your interviewer much better context for your process.

Whether you created the designs in Figma or Adobe XD or Sketch , doesn’t matter. Tools are learnable. What the employer cares about is your approach and your ability to effectively solve problems. Can you be counted on as the ‘go-to person’ for any queries related to the UX of their next product?

2. Droning on and on with a text-heavy presentation

Having a lot of text in your slides, or worse reading that text out loud to your interviewers doesn’t work on two counts
1. The interviewer already knows how to read and understand what you’ve written, and
2. They don’t know whether to focus on reading your text or listening to what you’re saying, so they might just do neither.

You should instead fill your slides with supporting high resolution images and diagrams that are properly aligned. Trust me, high quality images can really make a difference. Use the visual aid at your disposal to really complement what you’re talking about.

Realise the value of time — for yourself as well as the people who are interviewing you. Be concise and to the point.

3. Giving vague answers and making general statements — GIVE EXAMPLES!

Keep in mind that the person who is interviewing you wants to understand YOU. They are not interested in the general benefits of a Persona creation. In fact they already know them. That’s how they got to be on that side of the table. What they care about is the value of the personas YOU create and more importantly how they SPECIFICALLY HELP YOU solve a problem. And back it up with an example. This not only shows the employer that you know exactly what you’re talking about, but also displays the level of your understanding of the design process and the experience you bring to the table.

4. Don’t just make screens — make experiences

Unfortunately the perception of UX design is being boiled down to simply creating an information architecture and designing the screens.

Take a step back — assess the information before you use it. Understand the people you’re designing for and the reason behind the product you’re trying to create.

5. Prepare your projects and files to present before hand

Again, Value the time! It can be frustrating for the interviewer who has just 30 min to give you before moving on to the next candidate, to watch you spend those precious minutes, struggling to find the right files.

Interviewing for a job can be a daunting experience, but the best thing you can do is be well prepared and present yourself with confidence. Happy job hunting!

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