I have mentioned before in previous UX design articles that my mentors were instrumental in helping me land my first UX design role. One of the most valuable ways they helped me was through mock interviews and interview coaching.
I am still not the best interviewer, but I know that much like myself, many of you are wondering how to land a UX design job. It’s a tough industry to break into, but I believe in arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible to give yourself a fighting chance.
The process of interviewing was not something I took seriously until I started doing UX design interviews. They aren’t always easy and straightforward. Getting good at interviewing is as important as perfecting your resume and portfolio.
1. Research who you’re interviewing with
This is good for several reasons. Firstly, I found it settling to know how everyone I was going to interview with looked. Going into an interview is so nerve-wracking, that removing any element of surprise possible helps quell my nerves.
Secondly, you should be familiar with their job titles and roles on their team. This will tell you what kinds of information they’ll be wanting from you. For example, if you’re interviewing with a Design Lead, Marketing Manager, and HR, you’ll want to have some information prepared for each of them.
- What do you know about the company?
- Tell us about yourself?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
For the Marketing Manager:
- Have some information involving metrics, performance, percentages, and growth written into your portfolio design presentations.
For a Design Lead:
- Make sure you’re clear on your design process, who you worked with, how you worked with them, who it benefited, design systems, etc.
2. Write a script
You want to be careful with this one.
You don’t want to write word-for-word what you’ll say. It’s offputting to come across as extremely rehearsed. While you want to sound natural, you also want to sound informed and confident.
I write scripts and re-read them without trying to memorize what I wrote. Knowing it without being able to exactly recite it, is the sweet spot.
There is so much information going into UX interviews that you’ll need to know. Information on the company, who you’re interviewing with, your process, and your case studies. It’s hard to have all that information in your head at the same time without losing any of it. Scripts help you know what you need to say, remain confident, and remind you of anything you might miss.
3. Re-read the job application
This is important to any job interview you’re doing in any field. But, re-read the job application.
I know many people will encourage keeping track of all your applications, but I think that’s unreasonable. In the current job market, you’re easily applying to hundreds of job postings a month; keeping up with each one would be more trouble than it’s worth.
Find the job application again once you hear back from the company. This is when you’re able to start writing your script and tailoring your answer to specifically speak about the expectations they have outlined.
Focus on what they’re asking for that you can do, and close by mentioning how you’re able to learn or improve on the skills you may not have yet.
4. Do some research on the company
Along with knowing what they’re looking for in a specific candidate, you should know about the company. I’ve been asked, “So do you know a bit about us and what we do here?” in every interview I’ve done to date.
Despite not wanting to sound rehearsed, you do want to be prepared. I would only recommend this step once you’ve heard back from a company. Researching every company you apply for would be exhausting and ultimately unnecessary.
You won’t need to know the intimate inner workings of the company, but having enough surface level of their service, their mission, and their focus will benefit you. Are they client-focused, data and security-focused, profit-focused? Knowing this is important in tailoring your answers to fit their needs.
5. Mock interviews
Play pretend with your friends (or mentors). Do some practice interviews. Interviewing is a skill that’s hard to improve on since they can be few and far between. When you can’t get real interviews, practice with the people in your life.
5.5 Apply for jobs you don’t want
This is another method of getting interview practice. While not all design jobs are made equal, there is an overlap in the type of questions that you’ll hear across most interviews. Having the experience of interviewing, even if for a job you’re not interested in, is valuable.
Remember to decompress
Interviewing can be exhausting and time-consuming. After each one remember to celebrate or relax, in whatever way feels best to you. Take some time to forget about it all, and return to who you are outside of your job. Remember, there are 24 hours in a day, we only work for 8.