Design Gurus Share Their 5 Questions to Qualify UX Talent Properly

I love spending my time on Quora which is an indispensable source of new ideas and cool insights from people having real first-hand experience with topics they respond to. As I was recently searching for new blog post topic ideas, I bumped into a discussion that seemed to be pretty interesting and thought-provoking. It started with the question: How do you judge a UX designer with only 5 questions? Having reviewed profiles of respondents and commentators I thought it might be worthwhile to share some of their answers with you, as they reflect different viewpoints and approaches and provide a diverse perspective on screening and interviewing UX design talent.

So here we go.

Ian Armstrong, Senior UX Designer at Dell Digital would ask the following 5 questions during an interview with a candidate:

  1. What is the difference between designing an interface and designing an experience?
  2. Describe how each of the following fits into the UX process: visual design, interaction design, funnel analytics, codeless prototyping, JavaScript, contextual analysis, heuristics, and caffeine.
  3. What is a user experience map, why should I create one, and how?
  4. When do we animate, why, and what is the risk?
  5. What is the Pareto Principle (also known as the 80/20 principal) and how has it been applied in your portfolio? When have you ignored it and why?

He believes that the point of the interview isn't to judge, but to understand as much as possible in a very short span of time.

Oleksii Perekatov, Lead UX/UI Designer and Experience Architect at KPMG, would first of all check a person's portfolio of works. Nicely arranged portfolio on Behance can be between 50% and 90% of success for any designer: 50% for the UX, 90% for UI / visual design part.

Then he'd ask to describe the process they are using and how it differentiated from project to project.

"This is an easy question and fluid answer is expected. Mentioning user journey, data scientists, personas, agile, stakeholder interviews, iterations, rapid prototyping — are all good signs."

After that he'd ask a candidate to tell about the project that made the biggest impact on the market and how he contributed. According to Oleksii, "this question can give you a glimpse on seniority of a person as well as on how business / result oriented he is. You can check if your definition of "impact" is well aligned. If i am interviewing a senior / lead person i would ask him to prepare presentation about the project — that would let me assess how good is he/she at presenting."

Sometimes he would ask to show source files for a specific project (and he'd ask to bring their work laptop prior to that).

Oleksii believes this is a massive anti-fraud check, since some designer would work in teams and would "forget" to mention that 90% of the work on the project was done by someone else. Otherwise it's nice to see how person organizes his/her work, both folder structure, layers, etc.

If he were to interview a junior designer, he'd ask for his favorite studios, agencies and artists. Recognizing best works and practices is important factor of growth. Any definitive answer would be acceptable and would mean they're at least keeping eye on the market and trends.

And here's a take from Melanie Polkosky, Ph.D., 16+ yrs as UX researcher/consultant/designer/coach.

  1. Describe your UX process, using a recent project.
  2. If you're presented with significant constraints (e.g., budget/time), what parts of a UX process are you most willing to compromise and why?
  3. Tell me about the most challenging client you ever worked with. How did you minimize impacts to your UX work?
  4. What skill set most complements and elevates your own on a UX team?
  5. How do you measure your success as a UX professional?

Stewart Dean, a London based UXer with over 21 years industry experience, suggests the following 5 questions be asked to separate those who claim to do UX and those who actually do UI:

1. Walk me through a couple of past projects. What do you tend to do first?

Good answer would be: "Understand the user / business needs". Bad answer is "start sketching". "It depends" is a positive answer as anyone who has a set process probably hasn't worked on many real projects.

2. Explain to me about information architecture.

Good answer would be "It's about the organization of content and functionality". Bad answer would be: "it's the navigation". Worse answer is "I don't know".

3. How do you make sure that what you design is right for the user?

Bad answer would be: "Get feedback from users". Good answer is: "Use user research". Stewart thinks feedback is a terrible way to find out if something is working.

4. Which is the application you use the most, what do you think in?

Good answers are: 'Omnigraffle', 'Word', 'Visio' and UX type tools. Powerpoint, Excel, Keynote and Google Docs are also good. Less good answers are: 'Photoshop' and 'Illustrator'. The difference between an UX person and an interaction designer is that a UXer will spent more time defining the solution rather then implementing interfaces.

According to Stewart, "In the last 10 years I have only used Photoshop and Illustrator to help with presentations and occasionally to open other people's work. It's a real way to tell who is really UX and who is more interaction design. We need good interaction designers and some people in small companies do both - the reason it's a less good answer not a bad answer. If they say they go straight to code then the person is either a developer with UX pretensions or limited to web design. True UXers can code but don't."

5. What do you think of microsites?

A true UXer hates microsites! Campaign work is left to those doing UX lite in advertising agencies.

And how would you qualify UX talent with only 5 questions?

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Vik is our Brand Journalist and Head of Online Marketing / PR with 11+ years of international experience in IT B2B. He's also a guest blog contributor to Business2community, SitePoint, Journal of mHealth, Wearable Valley and other IT portals. You can contact him directly on LinkedIn.

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