Carl Wheatley is a Product Design Recruiter at Facebook with several years of experience in the design and recruiting industries. In this post, Carl sheds light on the most likely interview questions you’ll be asked in your UX design interview and how to approach answering each one.
Many UX designers preparing for an interview often focus all of their attention on the more technical questions related to their field. The reality is that product and hiring managers are also looking for candidates who can demonstrate qualities that go beyond the hard skills.
While you might expect to be asked intensive questions on UX or UI design, interviewers are more likely to ask things that gauge logical thinking skills and how you approach problem-solving. In fact, some companies’ favorite interview question for candidates is, “How would approach solving problems if you were from Mars?” That might sound like a bizarre question, without any relevance to the job, but they want to know how you would cope with simple problems outside of your working sphere.
The reality is, there’s no sure-fire way to fully predict interview questions or processes for any given company. However, you can certainly prepare for the kinds of questions you’ll most likely get asked. Note: UX design interview questions are often focused on five basic areas:
- Questions about you
- Questions about your work experience
- Questions about your workflow & process
- Questions about your behavior
- Questions about your goals
Below is a list of 21 likely interview questions to prepare for so you can walk into your next UX design interview feeling confident and ready to shine.
Questions about you
The starting point of every interviewer is you. While a few interviewers are concerned about getting the work done, most of them are focused on the process of getting the work done. This is the time for the hiring manager to get to know your personality, your motivations, your operation processes, and everything that’ll give them a vivid picture of you.
1. Can you tell me about yourself?
Most job seekers especially designers are often confused with this question. Consider this question an alternative way of saying “what’s in your resume”? You don’t have to go too detailed or personal but do share a bit about your work experiences that are related to the job you’re applying.
Your answer should be focused on your educational background or qualifications, internships, and/or previous jobs. You may also want to talk about your current job and why you’re considering a move. This is an opportunity to tell the interviewer why they should hire you.
2. Can you tell me why you chose a career in UX design?
Don’t miss this opportunity to shine. Talk about your passion and why you feel excited about UX design. Focus your answer on the skills that make you the great designer they should hire, including:
- Your empathic personality: How adept you are in studying customers’ behavior in order to provide a perfect solution to their problems
- Your problem-solving skills: Your devotion to details and the ability to understand the cause of problems and solutions to them
- Your curiosity: Your eagerness to learn new tips, stay updated with technological trends, and follow up with identified negative customers’ behaviors.
- Your time-management skills: Adhering to project deadlines.
You can also talk about other UX design hard skills including your visualization, storyboarding, and wireframing.
3. Why do you want to work for us?
Almost all interviewers want to know why you’re interested in working with them. Your answer to this question should be centered on the company’s values, mission, and overall purpose.. If it’s a tech startup, it may make sense to assert that you love the fast pace and innovation they possess. A big corporation? You may want to convey that you appreciate the stability and expertise from their team of seasoned UX designers you’ve heard so much about.
4. What is your area of focus — UX Researcher, UX Designer or Visual Designer?
This question is simply asking where you think you are strongest among the various design disciplines. This is not the time to claim that you’re an expert in all the areas. In fact, it is very important to understand their job vacancies and which role best suits your skills before going for the interview. This will show the interviewer that you took the time to research the various roles at the company and will help you walk the interviewer through the why behind your strengths in your chosen discipline.
Questions about your work experience
Questions concerning your work experiences are the big deal questions. Hiring managers want to understand what you’ve worked on before to better gauge the value you can bring to their business. This is your time to shine and to prove your expertise. Work experience questions often seem direct but deserve some expanded answers centered on what you’ve achieved and why you believe you can help them achieve even more.
5. Can I see your portfolio?
This is one of the most predictable UX design interview questions to expect. The question may seem direct, but it doesn’t mean handing your portfolio over to the interviewer. The hiring manager simply wants to see you walk them through your portfolio so they can see your creativity and general way of thinking. Do you have any peculiar designs and a reason for designing them the way they are? Don’t fail to tell them why you added that special touch. Did you create your designs for the target market, the problem you were trying to solve, or just fancy the design that way? Be bold to tell them.
6. Which design process did you adopt for these projects?
This is a direct question desiring a simple and direct answer. The interviewer wants to know your thought process and how you came to make the designs in your portfolio. Walk the interviewer through your thought process and explain why you approached the problem the way you did, as well as your process for solving it. Your confidence in answering this question truly matters — showcase your expertise!
7. Can I see your favorite project?
Your favorite project should be included in your portfolio already, but be careful which one you call out as your favorite. Your personal favorite may not truly be as attractive as something else. It’s not uncommon that a stand-out project isn’t the most aesthetically beautiful. Ask mentors or your trusted design community to take a look at your designs. Have them pick their favorite and explain why they made that choice. Note: your interviewer may not be a designer, so it’s good practice to also have a non-designer look at your designs.
Next, you should be able to articulate what made your favorite project special. It may not be the design or the working process but rather your passion for the project and what you learned while handling the parameters. If it was a very challenging project that caused you to think and approach it in a different, innovative way, share that experience with them. Through this process, you’re already demonstrating you can handle difficult tasks on the job.
8. Tell me about a time when a project didn’t go as planned. How did you fix it?
Research reveals that 8 of every 10 interviewers are likely to ask, “Tell me about a time when something went wrong”. What the interviewer wants to understand is your problem-solving skills and how calm you can stay under pressure. Undoubtedly, you’ve been faced with various challenging projects in the past — use them as examples. While you can cite examples of past challenging projects, make sure you avoid using examples where the problem was complete negligence on your part.
9. What are some websites or apps that have great design?
This question may not only mean the interviewer wants to know what kind of designs catch your eye — but they also may infer how you appreciate other professional design efforts. Explain why you love the designs in question. Are they customer-friendly? Do you think their loading speed is extraordinary? Is it the combination of colors that makes customers stay longer on the website pages? Do they inspire your own design work? Talk about the simplicity of Google as a search tool, talk about Netflix and its brilliant search recommendations, talk about the websites that you feel meet their users’ satisfaction. Be comfortable talking about all of these with your interviewer, and you’ll be amazed at how much of their favor you’ve won in the process.
Questions about your workflow & process
Many UX design interviews include a question or two about UX design processes. What is your general concept of UX design and how do you make your designs? These kinds of questions will give you the opportunity to explain how you handle your design projects and even how you’ll handle their design process once you get the job.
10. What’s your definition of UX design?
Heads up: This is one of the most-failed UX design interview questions. It isn’t asking you for the textbook definition of UX design nor the Google or Wikipedia definition. Rather, this question gives you the opportunity to expand upon the practical description of UX design based on your experience. Don’t forget to tell them that UX design is everything that makes products, apps, and websites very easy to use and customer friendly. Show the hiring manager your practical approach that backs your definition.
11. What Are the Differences between UX Design and Other Design Disciplines?
Some interviewers use this question as a follow-up to the question above. This question is asking for a direct response as to why you think UX design is different from product design or graphic design. You don’t have to go too deep. A simple answer like, “UX design is focused on making things functional while other design disciplines including UI, graphic, and web design are focused on making things beautiful or attractive.”
This may seem short and direct, but that is exactly what your interviewer is waiting to hear—especially if the company has two different teams handling UX and UI design. You can also consider giving an example where you worked with a team of designers on the same design project and your primary focus was on project functionality, while your teammates engaged in the other roles relating to the interface or graphic design.
12. What inspires you to create your designs?
While answering this question, you need to be current. If you take inspiration from outdated design topics or trends, your designs may be outdated too. Do you have any favorite magazines, blogs, and websites you rely on for inspiration? This is the time to talk about them and be sure to tell your interviewers why they are your favorites.
You can also talk about some newsletters you subscribe to or conferences you’ve attended online or offline. Discuss some of the design books you’ve read and your connection to your mentors. Talk about why you chose your mentors and how you keep in contact with them to this day. Stay up to date while talking about your motivations or inspirations—it shows that you’re current and forward-thinking in your learning.
13. How do you choose the features of your designs?
This one’s tricky! One way to address it is to use a real-life example of when you rejected your company’s hypothesis. Here’s where you need to claim your expertise and how valuable your expertise would be to the company. Take time to explain the relationship between any business goal and customers’ desires. Go further to explain why some business goals may need to change if they aren’t in line with customers’ needs and how you would detect and address that. Go further to explain which steps you would take to put customers’ needs first and use them to shape the business goals to ensure that users are fully satisfied at the end, and the business doesn’t lose anything in the process.
Take your time to address fully how:
- You sample the target market
- You discover the target market goals
- Your design features solved the target market’s problem
14. How do you discover the needs of your users?
Out of all design disciplines, user experience is termed the most user-centric because it fully revolves around the experience of the user, which is a determinant of their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. Here, you can tell them you “always wear the shoes of your customers.” You can expand further and explain to the interviewer how you learn the needs and wants of your customers utilizing research, usability testing, or even creating personas.
15. What kind of research method do you use for new projects?
Please, please, please be honest here. Don’t discuss any process(es) you haven’t used. And if you’ve used a research method but wished there were enough resources to use a better one, say so. For example, you can tell your interviewer you always engage in online surveys and use self-structured online questionnaires to collect your information due to time constraints and limited project budget. You can also stress the importance of face-to-face user research methods or interviews and how you long for such research methods given enough resources.
You may also go a little further to explain the challenges faced with the research methods you currently use, and why you would try something else if you eventually get the job.
Questions about your behavior
Behavioral questions, while challenging, are critical for the interviewer to best understand what gets you motivated and inspired. They need to realistically know whether they can foster an atmosphere where you’ll be able to thrive. Some of the behavioral questions to expect from interviewers may include:
16. What are your weaknesses?
Telling an interviewer your weaknesses may seem like condemning yourself already. However, it’s a common question interviewers ask to know what makes you feel uncomfortable and how you overcome it. While it’s advisable to be as honest as possible, answering this question with positive weakness could be the best thing to do for yourself.
For example, you can frame your answer to describe a positive weakness like, “I can get bored if I’m not staying busy or if I’m not challenged with a difficult task.” This also implies that you enjoy working on difficult tasks or you’re always busy during your working hours. Once an interviewer asks you about your weaknesses, be prepared for their next question concerning your strengths.
17. What are your biggest strengths?
This is the time to show pride in your skills and display your expertise. However, don’t go outside the company’s job description. To provide a solid answer to this question, every UX design job seeker should revisit the job description to best match their strengths with the role requirements. Think about the personality characteristics you have that add to your technical skillsets as a UX designer and make you that much more valuable.
18. How do you handle critical or negative feedback?
No one likes negative feedback. You know that and so does the interviewer. Think about and answer this question as a whole. You could say something like, “I’m always open to all kinds of feedback because it motivates me to improve the next time.’’ You can share that you’d rather have internal negative feedback rather than launch a project that receives negative feedback from external customers. With this, your interviewer will come to understand that you’re open to corrections and learning.
19. What would you do if asked to hand over your project to a developer?
Answering this question correctly will prove your collaboration skills. Do you willingly hand over your projects to someone else or do you struggle to hold onto them? As a good team player, you shouldn’t have any problem with someone else handling your project. Stress the fact that you do care about your projects, but you don’t have any problems signing them off as long as you know they’re in safe hands.
Questions about your goals
With goal-related questions, the interviewer will try to understand what your plans for their company are. They want to know if you plan to stay working for them in the long term. Are your company and career goals in line with theirs?
20. Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
Most of the time, setting long-term goals may seem hard. It’s ok if you aren’t sure where you plan to be in the next five years, but do try to give the interviewer a hint. You can talk about what a UX design career looks like to you and why you’ve chosen the path. If you want to become an expert in a particular field of UX design, talk about it and explain how that additional field will help you expand your skillset and elevate this role. Express that your growth goals are aligned with those of this role and the company at large.
21. Why are you passionate about this position?
Are you excited only about the pay, or are you coming in to add some value to the company? Your answer to this question is critical because your interviewer wants to know how serious you are about this position. This is the time to talk specifically about this role and this company. Discuss how this position will help you add some major value to the business and further your skills to become a better designer.
Now that you have a better understanding of the nature of UX designer interview questions, it’s your turn to dig deep into how you’ll personalize and best communicate your answers. At the end of the day, remember that hiring managers especially want to see that you are a stellar communicator and have confidence in your expertise. Focus less on the technicalities of UX design and more on clearly talking through your thought process, and you’ll be well on your way to nailing that next interview!
For more design hiring resources, check out Carl’s blog post on how to land your first job out of design school or bootcamp.
About Carl: Carl is a Product Design recruiter at Facebook. Before recruiting, he was a UI/UX designer working with many tech startups to design mobile apps. Carl is also the co-founder of a Meetup called Global UXD where he helps connect designers with eachother and create new opportunities. Having completed Bloc and Designlab bootcamps before becoming a recruiter, he’s an expert at helping designers land their first design roles. Find Carl on LinkedIn.