20 UX Designer Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

By Robert Half March 28, 2019 at 8:00am

User experience (UX) designers are some of the most in-demand creative professionals in the current market.

An increasing number of consumers rely on mobile devices, apps and websites to conduct daily tasks, such as checking bank accounts, making grocery lists, ordering meals and more. And users have come to expect intuitive, streamlined and even fun interactions with technology that save time and add convenience to their lives.

That’s where the UX designer comes in.

These professionals require a blend of creative, technical and problem-solving skills to create good interfaces and must be able to interpret user research to map out the consumer experience.

“Hiring managers are looking for resourcefulness, common sense, a clear understanding of emerging trends and a solid grasp of the basics of consumer behavior,” said Natalya Spicker, assistant vice president of The Creative Group in South Florida. “They want grounded yet avant-garde techies who will revamp — and sometimes reinvent — the way their brand is perceived so potential customers are retained through effective design.”

The increased demand for UX talent makes it all the more challenging for managers to find viable candidates — especially when considering the high costs of a bad hire. So what you ask applicants while assessing their skills is of paramount importance. Keep the following 20 UX designer interview questions in mind when you’re preparing to meet with prospective employees.

Background info

Start your interview by asking applicants basic questions about their background in UX. In addition to breaking the ice, you’ll learn more about them as individuals and get a sense of their personalities. But the real value lies in figuring out their interest in UX design — finding out how and why they started their careers and gauging their passion for the field.

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • How did you start working in UX design?
  • Why did you choose this career? 
  • What do you enjoy most about UX design?

Discover starting salaries for UX designers in your area:

UX knowledge, philosophy and process

Questions about a candidate’s understanding of and experience with UX will likely comprise the bulk of your interview. Look for answers that illustrate the candidate’s expertise and knowledge of the industry. Do they fully comprehend all aspects of the discipline? Are they able to integrate research into their process? Find out how applicants work through a project, as well as how they keep the user’s needs in mind with each step.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about your specific product. Get the candidate’s take on areas for improvement and find out what they might bring to the table if they become a member of your team. Make sure they can create a digital experience that satisfies your users’ expectations while helping you reach your business goals.

  • In your own words, explain what UX design is.
  • Why does UX design matter?
  • Walk me through your design process, from brainstorm to mock-up.
  • How would you improve the user experience of our product?
  • How would you say UX design relates to other disciplines, like graphic design or interaction design?
  • How do you incorporate user research and usability testing into your work? Why are these factors valuable?
  • Tell me about a project that didn’t go as planned. What did you learn from it?
  • What is your favorite type of project to work on?

Inspiration

Part of being an effective UX designer is constantly seeking to learn, improve and stay abreast of rapidly changing industry standards, trends and technological developments. Your goal here is to see where candidates turn for inspiration, what they consider the hallmarks of effective UX design and their ideas on the direction the field is heading. These UX designer interview questions will help you find someone who can evolve as technology and user expectations change.

  • Where do you find inspiration for UX?
  • How do you keep up with the latest industry trends and best practices?
  • What do you think will be the next big thing in UX design?

Workplace culture

Identifying a candidate who meshes with your corporate culture is crucial. This makes it easier to integrate new hires into your team, resulting in enhanced productivity, morale and end products.

Spicker adds, “A UX designer goes beyond what a regular designer does — they have to dig deep to understand how people think, act, behave and consume, then design based on those findings. This involves an extensive amount of collaboration and teamwork, so a solid culture fit is critical.”

Asking UX designer interview questions that provide insight into a candidate’s preferred work environment helps pinpoint an ideal fit and avoid turnover issues.

  • Do you prefer to work on your own or as part of a team?
  • Tell me about how you work with other designers and developers.
  • What kind of work environment do you prefer?
  • Are you comfortable presenting your work to others?
  • How would you describe your communication style?

Additional factors to consider

Beyond providing thorough and thoughtful answers to your questions, candidates should have a comprehensive portfolio that showcases a variety of projects. If time allows, consider reviewing a candidate’s portfolio with them and asking about the motivations behind design decisions and the UX problems their designs were intended to solve.

Soft skills are also critical. Look for candidates who are strong communicators, with demonstrated excellence in multitasking and time management. These abilities help ensure they can interact effectively with your staff, clients and stakeholders while keeping up with project timelines.

Remember that you may not locate a unicorn UX designer who fits the bill for all of the skills and experiences you’re after. In these cases, consider on-the-job training, especially if the candidate seems like they’d gel effortlessly with your team. 

At the same time, knowing what you don’t want is also important in the hiring process. Keep an eye out for red flags, such as candidates who can’t provide samples of their work, aren’t able to explain their design process or seem to have trouble collaborating with others.

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