This is a talk I gave to a UX class at UNC. The talk covers the typical UX hiring process from the company's perspective, what interview candidates need to know, and how best prepare - and win at getting a UX job!
struggled to find my first UX job • As a senior teammate, I’ve helped hire UXers • As a manager, I’ve hired UXers - and I’ve learned so much about the corporate hiring process! I know ﬁnding a UX job is tough!
Help hiring managers find talent and work through the logistics (set up interviews, talk salary, explain core company benefits) • Not familiar with UX • “First responders” - first to screen resumes and conduct interviews • Are recruiting for several job positions at once Recruiter Background
future boss • Very familiar with UX • Looking for candidates who can do the work and who make a great culture fit • Finds potential candidates via their networks • Very busy: works on projects, manages people • Could be recruiting for several job positions at once Hiring Manager
~150 applicants ~30 screened ~8 interviewed ~4 validated 4 hired 1. Searching Goal: To cast a wide net to ﬁnd our potential interview candidates Example stats: Based on 4 positions we were hiring, there were: 2. Screening Goal: To screen for candidates who meet the requirements and have the relevant experience/talent 3. Interviewing Goal: To get a sense of a candidate’s experience and abilities to communicate and present work 4. Validating Goal: To get a sense of a candidate’s ability to ideate and think through solutions (Offer made)
process What happens LinkedIn sends a text version of your profile as your resume! What this means Hi, Can you send me your resume and a link to your portfolio? 2. You’re ignored () in favor of someone with a real resume Phase 1. Searching / How to win at applying
and apply • Ensure you’re uploading a PDF resume (find that option) • Reach out to someone and ask about the job • However, don’t harass the person / entire team! So really, how do I apply? How to win at applying Phase 1. Searching
job description • Applying takes a lot of time and energy - think quality over quantity • Seek out opportunities for recent grads • Ask people at meetups, “Hey, does your company have programs for recent college grads?” Apply only for the jobs you’re qualiﬁed for How to win at applying Phase 1. Searching
recruiters looking for when screening a resume? Looking for the basics: • Do you have a link to your portfolio? • Do you meet the minimum requirements needed? • e.g., 1-3 years of UX experience • Do you have the relevant keywords? If you do, then they’ll pass you to the hiring manager for a resume and portfolio screen. (And what you should be prepared to have)
hiring managers looking for when screening a resume? Looking closer at the actual UX work: • Does your resume show the skills and relevant experience needed to do the job? They’re scanning for: • Positions held • Companies worked for • UX skills, applications • Relevant keywords (e.g., Agile, mobile, enterprise, etc.) If you do, then they’ll decide to check out your portfolio. (And what you should be prepared to have)
break and look poor, someone can edit it - submit a PDF • Don’t rate your skills! You risk selling yourself short! How to win with your resume Expert knowledge of Sketch, Illustrator; Working knowledge of HTML, CSS Good example Sketch Illustrator HTML CSS Bad example Phase 2. Screening
when reviewing a portfolio? Does your portfolio: • Look professional? • Show a user-centered design process? • Can you think critically? • Show relevant experience? • Tell us a bit about you? If it does, then they’ll decide to have the recruiter do a phone screen. (And what you should be prepared to have)
your pieces stand out • Do limit it to 3-5 of your BEST, relevant pieces • Do show your process - UX is messy • Do mention flaws, surprise insights, lessons learned and how you pivoted or recovered How to win with your portfolio Phase 2. Screening
out those print pieces • Don’t copy your colleagues - (i.e., plagiarize) it’s ok to use the same pieces, but change up the content • Don’t make it seem like you worked for big companies (e.g., Apple, Airbnb, Tesla) How to win with your portfolio Phase 2. Screening
create projects that go through your process • Do look at volunteer opportunities Don’t: • Don’t redesign Craigslist • Don’t take on a redesign of any well-known site or app, one with strong design team How to win with your portfolio Phase 2. Screening
a phone screen, if you pass… 2. The hiring manager conducts an phone screen, if you pass… 3. The hiring manager and team conducts portfolio presentation interview. How are companies interviewing candidates?
First pass at seeing if you’re legit: • Do you know what UX is? • Why do you want to work at the company? • Can you talk about your UX process? What they’re looking for: • Can you articulate yourself well? • Do you really want to work at the company? • Are you worth moving forward? (And what you should be prepared to answer) Phase 3. Interviewing
you need to relocate? • What is your salary range? If the phone screen goes well, then they’ll recommend you for an phone screen interview with the hiring manager. Phase 3. Interviewing What are recruiters looking for in a phone screen? (And what you should be prepared to answer)
screen? (And what you should be prepared to answer) Second pass at your qualiﬁcations: • What’s your UX process like (using a previous project as an example)? • What’s a UX challenge you faced and how did you resolve it? • What aspect of UX are you strongest / most passionate about? • What are you looking with your next career steps? • What experience do you have working with stakeholders, developers, product managers, etc.? Phase 3. Interviewing
UX process? • Can you articulate your work? • Do your strengths, passions, and career next steps align with the team? • Can you work with others well? • Are you worth moving forward? If the phone screen goes well, then they’ll recommend to do a portfolio presentation/ interview. Phase 3. Interviewing What are hiring managers looking for in a phone screen?
• Do have answers for those logistical questions • Do have questions for the interviewers! • Do practice your interviews - you want to know your work in and out: • Know the most challenging part of the project and how you approached a solution • Know what you would do differently How to win at phone screens Phase 3. Interviewing
presentation done virtually or in person. • Includes additional managers or senior teammates • Opportunity for: • You to show your work and walk through it • For interviewers to dive deeper into your work and ask questions • You to ask questions about the team/ company Phase 3. Interviewing
What they’re looking for: • Can you articulate your work and answer in- depth questions about it? • A better understanding of your work, skillsets, interests • Would you be a good cultural fit? • Are you worth moving forward? If the interview goes well, then might decide to have you go onto the next phase. Phase 3. Interviewing
- usually you present 2-3, but it’s good to have an extra just in case • Do have design deliverables ready • Do show your process - the complicated and messy • Do be prepared to talk about what you love inside/outside of work • Do look at LinkedIn proﬁles of interviewers • Do download and practice the technology ahead of time • Do back up your stuff to the Cloud How to win at portfolio presentations Phase 3. Interviewing
estate tour of your work , instead: • Tell a story, keep things high level, but know the details if they ask. • Don’t just show final pieces - show the process! • Don’t only open design files as your main presentation - have a presentation prepared (PowerPoint, Keynote) • Avoid showing videos with audio How to win at portfolio presentations
the team: • What do you love about being on the team? • What opportunities are there for career growth and development? • How does the team typically work on projects? • Do you feel like the larger company is transparent about its goals? • What are some challenges that designers face working on projects? How to win at portfolio presentations Phase 3. Interviewing (Favorites I’ve been asked)
behind the scenes and it’s tough to convey design iterations, pivots, and decisions • Teams validate your abilities by conducting some sort of design exercise: • Design/whiteboard challenge • Heuristic evaluation How are companies validating candidates?
for: • Do you actually use a user-centered design process? • How well is your ability to think through a problem? • How well can you critically think and generate solutions? If you do well, then they’ll be ready to make an offer. (And what you should be prepared demonstrate) Phase 4. Validating
existing heuristic method/model (e.g., 10 Usability Heuristics for UI Design by Jakob Nielsen) • Do practice, so you feel comfortable doing these Don’t: • Don’t try to boil the ocean, instead narrow your scope and focus on an area • Don’t get too specific with everything, instead dive in on one or two things How to win at heuristic evaluations Phase 4. Validating
Do google “design interview challenge” for strategies • Do practice and be familiar with • Hypothetical/abstract ones • Real-life ones Don’t: • Don’t strive for perfection - keep moving! It’s about showing your process How to win at design challenges
valuable and design teams shouldn’t take advantage of it • If a company has you (re)design a feature in their product or give you hours of homework, you can politely decline it • Say you understand the intent • Ask for an alternative, limit in scope, or payment How to win at design challenges
company? • Companies rarely inform “no” to candidates • The hiring process can take time • It’s might not be you, it might be them • Timing • Budget limitations • You might not have met the minimum requirements • There might have been stronger candidates out there Why am I having trouble getting a UX job?
like you’re losing This isn’t working • Don’t be too hard on yourself! • Do ask the recruiter or hiring manager why you weren’t selected • Do consider being a contractor or working at a smaller company • Do seek mentorship • Do continue to build your network (Attend meetups, join Triangle UXPA, etc. )
How to win even when you feel like you’re losing This isn’t working My quick survey about the job hunt: 41% 59% Over half (59%) find jobs through someone they know 26% 26% 48% Former Coworkers (48%) Friend Network (26%) Professional Network (26%) Survey conducted by Michelle Chin in November 2018, where 23 respondents were asked how they found their two previous UX/UX-related jobs. Of the 59%, half found their job from a former coworker, half found a job in their network