Newly revised! This is one of my favorite talks that I give to Laura Ruel's UX class at the University of North Carolina. I've updated this with more top tips! The talk covers how to prepare for the different phases of the interviewing process.
Baltimore) • Product Designer -> Design Manager -> Design Ops Manager at Citrix • Hired designers and design managers • Struggled breaking into the UX f ield MICHELLE CHIN / @SOYSAUCECHIN HELLO! ABOUT ME
the door can be tough! You can be one of 10’s or 100’s of applicants. Recruiters are “the f irst responders” of company’s search. They’re trying to get through all the applications and they’re looking for 2 things. • Can I throw this application out? • Is this candidate a realistic possibility? How can you get yourself recognized as a realistic candidate?
• Is my resume easy for the recruiter to skim? • Is my LinkedIn URL and portfolio (and password) on my resume? • Did I only include relevant experience? • Did I leverage keywords? (Only include stu ff you actually know!)
TinaBelcherResume.pdf) • Save your resume as a PDF • Have someone proofread your resume • Include skills, but don’t rate yourself MICHELLE CHIN / @SOYSAUCECHIN BREAKING THROUGH RESUME – TOP TIPS: Expert knowledge of Sketch, Illustrator; Working knowledge of HTML, CSS Good example Sketch Illustrator HTML CSS Bad example
ile? • Has someone proofread my pro f ile? • Have I set my pro f ile to “open to work?” • Am I active on LinkedIn? (Connections, reactions, comments, edits) • Did I set up the right job alert noti f ications? MICHELLE CHIN / @SOYSAUCECHIN BREAKING THROUGH LINKEDIN PROFILE – ASK YOURSELF:
Recruiters, unless highly-trained in UX (rare), will be looking for something that looks appealing. First impressions count! • Hiring managers are busy! They will only be skimming things (30-60 seconds). They’re also really good at picking out solid portfolios quickly.
• Does my portfolio show my best projects? • Does my portfolio look professional and easy to quickly scroll through? (Use a clean UI, short paragraphs, bulleted/numbered lists, etc.) • Do I show a user-centered design process? • Do I include examples of where I demonstrated critical thinking and resolving challenges?
• Show your process - even the messy stu ff ! UX is messy and we want to see your approach. • Include an “about me” section - we want to see that you’re a real human. • Only include relevant work • Don’t copy your colleagues even if you collaborated • Represent your work honestly • If you don’t have real-world experience, get creative (Volunteer, create projects that go through your process, etc.)
• Does my experience match what’s being asked in the job description? (Recruiters cannot move candidates through unless they meet the minimum requirements) • Does my resume include relevant job titles? • Do you really want to apply for this job? (Some larger companies only allow you to apply to 3 jobs/3 months.)
• Only apply for the jobs you’re quali f ied for – applying takes a lot of energy! • Don’t apply through LinkedIn; apply through the company’s site • Include a cover letter with your resume (either as separate or the same f ile) (This is helpful if you’re transitioning and/or don’t have the relevant job titles.)
typically, you’ll be interviewed by (in order): 1. Recruiter 2. Hiring manager (typically, your future manager) 3. Peers 4. Other cross-functional partners Most will ask behavioral questions (e.g., give me an example when… ).
example questions for each round or role. • Have a list of examples to reference during the interview Including examples of how you exemplify the company’s values • Be prepared! Remove distractions, test out software, have good cell reception. • Don’t throw anyone under the bus! Practice putting a positive spin on things. • Know yourself so well that no question catches you o ff guard and you sound natural!
INTERVIEWING When recruiters say: They want to know: Tell me about your UX process. Do you really know what you’re talking about? Logistical questions (visa, salary, relocation, remote working) If you meet some basic needs What kinds of tools do you use? Do you really know what you’re talking about? Why do you want to work at the company? Have you done your research? Are you taking this seriously?
KNOW INTERVIEWING When hiring managers say: They want to know: Tell me about your UX process. Do you really know what you’re talking about? What’s a UX challenge you faced and how did you resolve it? Are you capable of critical thinking? Are you someone who will help the team? Tell me how you’ve worked with other designers. Are you collaborative with other designers? What are your career next steps? Will you be staying with us for at least 3 years? What’s your hando ff process like with engineering? How closely do you work with cross-functional partners? What aspect of UX are you strongest / most passionate about? Do your strengths f it with what the team needs?
KNOW INTERVIEWING When design teammates say: They want to know: What tools do you like to use? What’s your UX process like? Do you really know your stu ff ? Tell me how you’ve worked with other designers. Can you work well with us? How do you stay current with UX trends? How passionate are you about UX? Tell me an example of when you had an idea that others didn’t like. What happened? Can you articulate your design decisions? Can you compromise when necessary? Tell me how you’ve used research to inform your decisions? Are you data driven? Are you making objective design decisions? What are you looking for when joining a team? Do you share the same company/team values? Do you have questions for us? Do you really want to be part of this team?
presentation in a slide deck format? • Did I include screenshots or photos of my process? • Have I practiced my presentation so I feel con f ident with the content? • Do I have 3-4 case studies ready to present? • Can I present within the given timeframe? • Am I comfortable with the technology? (e.g., Zoom, headphones, etc.)
rapport with people - be human, relatable, and yourself! • Tell a story to engage interviewers (What was the problem? Why was that problem important to solve? How did you solve it? How did it shake out in real life?) • Avoid “real-estate” tours, audio, and video • Provide just the right amount of context • Warn people of interruptions; be understanding if they have interruptions
really good on paper. Hiring managers and teams want to validate that you’re able to critically think through solutions and articulate your ideas. Design challenges are a great way to assess this. Challenges can take the form of: • Take home assignments • Whiteboard challenge • Heuristic evaluation • Collaborative role playing
Do I have an approach for solving design challenges? • Am I comfortable sketching ideas on paper or an iPad? • For heuristic evaluations: Am I using an established method? • Have I practiced until I feel con f ident?
Practice, practice, practice! (Practice both real-life and hypothetical prompts) • Don't boil the ocean; focus on 1-2 areas • Don’t strive for perfection! The key is to demonstrate your thinking process and ability to articulate your ideas. • Value your time - don’t be taken advantage of
• Did I sent a thank you email to everyone I spoke with? • Am I clear on the next steps and how to prepare? • Am I continuing my job search even when things are going well? • Do I know who could be my references? • Did I do my research on the company and people?
• Send your thank you emails within 24 hours and be thoughtful and concise • Your recruiter is your ally. They want to make sure you have the best possible experience. Ask them any questions you may have. • Touch up your resume, portfolio, and LinkedIn as you gain interview experience • Ensure a positive experience - if this doesn’t work this time, they might want to reach out in the future
a network – attend (virtual) events, join Triangle UXPA, Meetup/Slack communities • Seek mentorship • Seek career coaching from UX experts (resume/portfolio reviews, career advice) • Sign up for General Assembly (mostly free) + Creative Mornings (all free) webinars for tech career advice