Hiring a UX Designer can be a difficult task, you’ll have to be looking through their portfolio of work initially to judge their fit. After that, even with a great portfolio, it can be difficult to vet their thought process and fit into your existing teams. Most of the time your discussions will be around process and strategy understanding. Plus a heavy focus on their communication skills. Written communication skills can be helpful in the UX design process but presentation skill sets are also very important. In general, designers need to be able to communicate their work clearly to a group of stakeholders. From the executive group to a product manager and then to other designers. It will be helpful to figure out how they communicate to each party and understanding if they have some stories where they failed and/or could have made an improvement to the overall organization.
Understanding their prototyping and design tools of choice can also be very helpful in assessing their fit into the rest of the design group. I’ve assembled some UX interview questions you can ask UX designers to better assess them. Going through whiteboard sessions where you have a designer build out a product with a narrative can also be an effective tool. Understanding their starting point and how they would proceed to get a product built using that starting point. Try to ask as many questions regarding their assessment of customers or users and how they help that assessment inform their design. It's critical that they are thinking less so about their own needs of a design and more so about the customer's needs of a design. The design process should not be a self-centered one, where their own creative needs are being satisfied but more so about how design can be used to communicate something more clearly to all humans.
Pitfalls in the hiring process usually happen when you don’t inquire enough about what drives a designer. If you are simply assessing their creative work, you won’t be able to properly place what makes them creative, thus what makes them happy. And as a manager, you’ll be constantly trying to mend that gap. Early vetting of what motivates the designer will help to understand their fit into the current software development cycle. Inversely you can also ask too many questions related to process and skip a very talented individual. I would highly recommend trying to understand the needs of the team before attempting to ask interview questions. That way you can pick and choose which interview questions might help you better understand if they are a potential fit. Remember that no two humans are alike, so that means no two designers are alike. It is a process of creativity and also a process of using information/numbers/math to influence further creativity.
A short youtube clip on UX design
I think its really helpful to see how others describe UX design. This video below is quick 5-minute video that will give you some degree of insight there. The vital part is understanding how they simplify the description. It'll be a nice introduction before we get into the interview questions.
UX Interview Questions
1. Tell me how you first got interested in design.
2. Tell me how you got interested in digital design.
3. Tell me about something you built for yourself.
4. What does design mean to you?
5. What does UX mean to you?
6. How do you define UI?
7. How do you define the difference between UI and UX?
8. What do you consider a design process?
9. What inspires your design work that’s not digital?
10. What inspires your design work that is digital?
11. Who inspired your design career?
12. What is the ideal designers internal makeup look like?
13. What types of experience do you think designers should have?
14. Should designers know how to code?
15. What type of front-end engineering experience should a designer have?
16. How does code influence design?
17. How does the user influence design?
18. What do you define as a “persona” in design?
19. Tell me a story about how you influenced a customers decision through design.
20. How do you research what your customer’s needs are?
21. How do you track design results?
22. How do you think about user friction?
23. What’s the difference between UI and Product?
24. How do you interact with Product Managers?
25. Tell me a story about how a design went into the development pipeline and came out as something you didn’t expect. What did you do to correct it? What would you do in the future to correct it earlier?
26. How should you interact with other designers?
27. What’s a great way to prevent branding from changing while working on the design?
28. How would you inform your teams about any design changes you wanted to make?
29. Who should you include as part of your stakeholder group? Marketing? Sales?
30. Which Company has the best design cadence?
31. What’s a way designers usually fail?
32. If you could redesign a non-digital product, what would it be?
33. If you could redesign a digital product, what would it be?
34. What are some non-digital products you use every day?
35. What are some digital products you use every day?
36. If you had to design a car’s display UI, how would you do it?
37. How do you conduct user research?
38. How do you validate designs with executive groups? 39. Tell me about how you present design.
40. What are some ways wireframes can be beneficial to a product development organization?
41. What’s your favorite UI?
42. How would you direct engineers to take a visual design and make a functioning product from it?
43. Do you use spec-sheets, if so how do you use them?
44. What are some ways design can be used as a communication tool?
45. How would you say design is like building a home?
46. What are the blueprints of a design process and what is the ‘construction’ part of the design process?
47. What do you think Product Strategy is? And how does it interact with UX Strategy? 48. Have you worked with UX Teams before?
49. How should a design team be judged by its peers?
50. How do you define ‘user happiness’?
51. What do you think can be done to make users happier?
52. How do you think our products can be improved?
53. Tell me about a piece of user friction you’ve experienced in an application recently.
54. What do you feel mobile-first design is?
55. How do you think mobile devices are informing our behavioral habits?
56. Do you put together mood boards?
57. How do you inform your peers about persona research and how can that be utilized in the Product Strategy?
58. What are some of your favorite design tools?
59. Do you use Sketch? If so, what do you think of it? What’s missing?
60. How do you prototype early ideas?
61. What tools do you use to prototype early ideas?
62. What are some pitfalls in presenting design?
63. How should we think about our design presentation process when informing our peers about work in progress?
64. How should design work with the agile development lifecycle?
65. How can design be used to reduce the time it takes to develop something?
66. How do you interact with other engineers?
67. What are some ways engineers can be more motivated with their work by utilizing design?
68. Tell me a story about how engineers were unhappy with your work and why.
69. How can you help Product Managers achieve their goals better?
70. How do you think about aesthetic vs. design?
71. What do you consider branding and what do you consider design?
72. What makes something a “Product” and what makes something a Website?
73. Should design be defined by user stories?
74. Do you write design user stories or scenarios?
75. What’s your take on typography?
76. How can typography be used to make things better?
77. How do you define simplicity of design?
78. How can design be used to make something more simple?
79. How do you communicate functionality to a group of engineers after you present design work?
80. What is your favorite non-digital brand?
81. What do you think the job of a designer is here?
82. What do you think the job of a designer is in other companies?
83. What does UX stand for?
84. What does UX mean to customers?
85. How would you take a piece of design that isn’t performing well and make it better?
86. How do you think about full redesigns?
87. How do you think about improving modules of a design instead of a grand scheme of design?
88. How do you think about the use of color in design?
89. Is color important in design?
90. Is typography important in design?
91. What are some ways you collect KPI’s from your teammates?
92. How would you help other designers make their designs more similar to yours?
93. Have you experienced a digital product which lost its consistency of design?
94. How do you keep consistency?
95. What are some of your most inspirational digital businesses?
96. If you could do anything, what would it be?
97. What inspires your creative process?
98. How can you help other designs be more creative?
99. Do you feel design should be qualitative or quantitative?
100. What’s the difference between qualitative and quantitative design?
101. How would you improve the UX process as a whole?
102. Have you gone through rapid prototyping periods?
103. What is the rapid prototyping process like for designers?
104. Tell me about a product idea that you have.
105. Tell me about a business idea that you have.
106. How would you explain how a car engine works to a group of designers?
107. How does aesthetic make something more sellable?
108. How can UX designers help sales teams?
109. How can UX designers help marketing teams?
110. What is a way that UX can improve our existing sales process?
111. What is a way that UX can improve our existing marketing strategy?
112. What are some ways marketing teams usually have friction with UX designers?
113. What are some ways sales teams usually have friction with UX designers?
114. How could you make internal teams happier by utilizing design?
115. How could you make non-designers more creative?
116. How would you teach UX design to someone?
117. How would you tell a 5th grader what UX design is?
118. Do you think architects are designers?
119. Why do you think ‘design’ is such a general term?
120. Why is it that everyone has a different definition of design?
121. Can portions of the design process ever be automated in the future?
122. How do you judge other designers work?
123. How would you provide another designer feedback on their UI?
124. How would you provide another designer feedback on their UX?
125. Does content play a role in the design process?
126. What’s a way that data can be integrated into designs earlier?
127. Does real data affect your design process?
128. What are some tools you feel help designers stay consistent?
129. How would you conduct a user test utilizing a customer?
130. What are the benefits of user testing?
131. How should we be thinking about user testing at this Company?
132. What are some other parts of the design process that people don’t discuss as much?
133. How would you explain design to an engineer?
134. How would you explain design to a CEO?
135. What do you feel a design-led organization looks like?
136. What do you think it means for a Company to be influenced by design?
137. How does the process of designing a mobile and web app differ?
138. What would you be more interested in, mobile design or web design?
139. What are some ways you can prototype mobile designs earlier?
140. What tools do you use to prototype interaction design?
141. Is interaction design important?
142. Is interaction design important to UX?
143. Is animation important to UX?
144. What do you feel some of the pitfalls of animation can be, in design?
145. Does print inspire you? Or did it ever inspire you? If so, how?
146. How should marketing sites be designed?
147. What are ways that we can improve our landing page?
148. What are ways we can improve the way we describe our value propositions using design?
149. When do you consider a design “done”?
150. How do you think about evolving a piece of design that’s already working well?
151. How do you think about evolving a piece of design that’s not working well?
152. How would you inspire another designer?
153. What are some of your favorite design books?
154. Tell me from start to finish, how you designed a product that got built and launched into the market?
155. Tell me about how from start to finish, something you design that got built and launched could have been improved to produce better results.
156. What is Human-Centered Design?
Mock interview answers
OK, so your next question will most likely be, how do I answer some of these questions? I'm putting together a short list of answering some of my favorite questions to give you an idea for the type of cadence you might want to have while going through your interview session. Understand that the person who is going to be interviewing you might not have the best knowledge of UX or design. So you need to be able to clearly articulate this field and give them a clear cut answer to some of the questions. I'm going to embellish some of my answers here but its important that when you interview, you are brief. That will have the best punch behind the delivery.
Tell me how you first got interested in design.
I first got into design through my band. It was something that we needed in order to keep moving forward. Our band basically needed a flyer to get created to tell people about an upcoming show that we were playing. And instead of paying someone money to do it I decided to. There was a steep learning curve but once I got into it, I really started to appreciate design and communication design. From there it became more so related to the digital side of design as it became more popular over the years. Plenty of applications to use, that essentially change your life for the better.
What does design mean to you?
I think design as a term is really a subjective thing. Everyone seems to answer it slightly differently. But to me design is about a function. Its when it helps connect us from Point A to Point B with very little friction. It empowers us, the humans, to be able to achieve something we've never been able to achieve before. I think design has enabled us to do that over the years, most notably in the past 5 years.
How can UX designers help sales teams?
I love this question. Often times designers don't think about anyone outside of the design team. And in reality, they are the people we should be serving the most. Basically, helping them achieve their goals. Sales people have a hard time communicating the value of the company in really concise ways. Designers can help by putting together marketing materials, landing pages and even white papers which can encourage the traction or development of relationships that can lead to sales. These are just a few of the ways designers can help sales teams.
What inspires your creative process?
Honestly, its everything outside of the digital realm. For me I might go walking down the streets and appreciating architecture. Or maybe I'll go to the park and appreciate nature. There's inspiration in everything we do. Music, coffee and maybe a good print magazine is also something that can help me in my creative process. Something that gives me a fresh perspective and unique point of view. I often times don't look at things I'm attempting to solve for when looking for inspiration.
Is interaction design important?
Interaction design is becoming increasingly important as we think about connected devices. For example, think about your phone, you often look at it but the phone is essentially communicating to you as well. From the vibration it has when you have a text message to the ringtone it uses. All of these things are in essence, interaction design. There's many ways inside of applications to make the device feel more connected to you. All of them, though, I would classify as interaction design.
What’s your take on typography?
I think typography is really the thing people think of the most when it comes to design but maybe don't know it. All day everyday, you are reading. If you are looking at a stop sign or trying to understand when the bus is going to arrive, you are looking at typography and essentially design. Poor type design makes design hard to understand. Sometimes that's intentional but for the most part we need typography to help communicate what needs to be said of the interface and the machine. Imagine if a stop sign was in thin lettering, I don't think you'd be able to see it from as far away as you need to and that could be dangerous. It truly is an essential part to the design process.
How do you keep consistency?
Consistency in design is really hard. Its harder when it comes to working with other designers. The best thing you can do is try to create a visual language that can be shared amongst the team. Some type of visual agreement made between all of the designers that can be referenced at any point. Some people call this a style guide. But I don't think it has to be as defined as that. You really just need the designers to commit to an overall aesthetic and design language together. And ensure that they aren't deviating from that path. Once they do that, consistency can start to occur. Without it, there's really no way to move forward without having to go backwards multiple times.
Why do you think ‘design’ is such a general term?
This is a great question and something I've thought about a lot. I think design is such a general term because it always evolving. As our world changes and the ways we interact with it change, so does design. And our world is evolving at such a rapid pace. Because of this, designs definition to us is always evolving too. I think there's big disconnect between what we call visual design, interaction design, ux design and much more. These terms have been made up to try and help us find perfect niches within the design discipline. But ultimately I think they are causing some confusion as well. Though, I don't think we could live without those definitions right now.
How do you interact with other engineers?
Engineers should love design. They should love design because if its done correctly, it will make their lives a whole lot easier. There's ways to communicate and interact with engineers to let them know this too. I think, often, engineers are pushed away by designers because they hold different philosophies or respect different parts of the process. But in reality, they're a lot closer than we might think. And telling engineers that as well as showing them design can help make their lives easier, is the best way to interact with other engineers.
I hope these questions give you a good starting point in your UX Interview process. I would recommend that only some of these questions to be asked virtually, if you can, asking these in person will be most informative to you and the interviewing party.