When it comes to UX interviews, it’s easy to feel like you’re the one getting grilled. But remember, you’re interviewing the company too.
You may spend a third of your life (~8 hours) for years at a job. So you might as well determine if a company is right for you.
You can figure this out with some of the right questions, which help you to:
- identify if this is the team you’d like to work with, and
- ensure you come across as an interested, engaged applicant.
Most of the questions should be reserved towards the end of the interview, or when interviewers ask “Do you have any questions for us?”
As with any interview, feel out if these your question is appropriate in the context of where the conversation is heading.
At the end of the article, I’ll provide a strategy to ask good questions during the interview.
Let’s jump right into it, in no particular order:
1) What do you love about working here?
Rationale: This is a general question but it helps you identify two things: if employees genuinely like the workplace, and what the perks are.
You want to avoid asking about job benefits and perks (it’s unprofessional), but with this question it’s likely that your interviewer will tell you about the culture & workplace perks.
2) What’s the team structure? Who does the UX manager (or team) report to?
Rationale: This question gives you a sense of the team dynamics and who will ultimately affect your work.
Do you notice that UX designers have a seat that the company’s table, or are they at the mercy of other teams? Does the UX director (if there is one) fall under the creative director, or are they equals?
3) Can you describe a typical day split up in percentages by activity? For example, 50% of the day is spent wireframing, 20% is spent on meetings and email…
Rationale: Productive workers are happy workers. This is best asked to someone in the role (e.g. Interaction designer) you’re applying for. Their answer helps you know how productive the team is according to what they spend most of their time on.
Most places will downplay how often they have (unnecessary) meetings. Still, this helps you get a sense of the job’s day-to-day rhythm.
4) How long do projects take to launch? Can you give me some examples?
Rationale: The portfolio is the designer’s bread and butter. And there’s nothing more annoying than working for a company in which projects don’t launch or take forever to launch.
Again, productive designers are happy designers, so you want to make sure you’re in an environment that’s actually shipping things.
5) Can you tell me about your design process? Let’s say there’s a new project and you have a kickoff meeting…what’s the UX process like until launch? Post launch?
Rationale: You want to know about the team’s UX process – or lack thereof. See if they have some sort of process set up. And it’s not always a bad thing that they don’t – some teams may admit they need a more rigorous product development process than what’s currently in place, and that’s where you come in.
It’s also a litmus test of the team’s UX maturity. Based off their answers, you can tell how advanced their skills are and if they can/can’t mentor you.
6) Let’s pretend I’m finishing up my first project here – what are the expectations of how design artifacts should delivered?
Helps you identify how the team communicates (or not) and how things are shipped. Do you need to annotate wireframes? Can you sit with developers and work out issues with them, or are they all remote?
The question also helps interviewers think of you as an existing employee.
7) What’s your management style? Can you talk about any management whose decisions will affect my day to day life?
Rationale: Your relationship with your manager will determine a large part of your happiness in the workplace. Get a sense of their managing style. Do you sense that he/she trusts her teammates, or is prone to micromanagement?
The second part of the question is to dig up people who can either be your blockers or allies. Sometimes you may be more actively managed by someone else than your official manager.
8) What do you wish the company did a better job of?
Rationale: Allows the interviewers to vent about problems in the company. This is important, because these will likely become your problems too if you join them. It also opens up the conversation to opportunities that you might be able to take on, or help the team solve.
9) What are some things that new designers could do in their first 30 days to set them up for success? What does onboarding look like for new team members?
Rationale: This question helps you gauge what qualities the team values, and if the manager has given any thought to how to prep new designers. Do they do any sort of onboarding for new employees? Will you be given the right resources or made to hunt for them yourself?
10) What’s your vision for the UX team? What about for the whole company?
Rationale: You want to work on a UX team whose members (or at least the manager) have passion for what they do. That means that they yearn to be better tomorrow than they are today – how do they do that? Is the team constantly improving itself, learning, and looking for new ways to add value?
The second part of the question identifies how the UX team sees itself in the context of what value they bring to the rest of the company.
I’ve asked the 10 questions above during my own interviews (on both sides of the table) so they’ve been tested in real life. But use them with caution :)
Earlier, I said that the above questions are best saved for the end of the interview when the conversation opens up. What about during the interview?
Tip: When in doubt, mirror what interviewers are asking you, and make it a conversation.
If they ask you what your UX process looks like, ask them about their process. If they ask you about how you approach user research, ask them how they do user research.