Today, we’ll be sharing 7 common UX design interview questions and how you can CRUSH them to make the best impression possible.
Lydia last interviewed for Sada Systems in 2017 and last interviewed candidates for the same company in August 2018.
As for me, I interviewed for Ally Financial not even a year ago and helped interview someone on the day of this writing.
The questions we’ll cover in this post will range from general (which is normally how these UX design interview questions start) to more specific.
Let’s get started!
This is almost always the opening question that interviewers asks.
It’s a very open ended question that will give them many potential paths for follow-up questions.
It also helps them gauge your ability to answer questions that have no specific answers, along with seeing your ability to condense your whole work history into a few short minutes.
This is basically the interviewer’s way of asking you to walk through your resume.
There are three things you can focus on:
If you start with your education, keep it to one or two sentences.
“I attended the University of Michigan with a focus in UX design and graduated in 2017 with a 3.89 GPA.”
Some interviewers will care about your GPA and school while others will not care so much.
It’s a bit of a coin toss with how much they care, so don’t make this part too long unless they ask you a follow question about it.
If you’re applying for your first or second full-time job, than you can talk briefly about your internships.
You should also keep this part simple, stating what company your worked at, your position, and your responsibilities along with the tools you used.
“I worked at Thomson Reuters as a UX design intern in the summer and Fall of 2015. When I was given a project, I would ideate with my team, do research by talking with users, make mockups with Sketch, and create pixel-perfect prototypes using Axure. By the end of my internship, I worked on 3 projects and created over 20 prototypes. If you’d like more details on my design process, just let me know and I can explain more in-depth.”
…and then you can move on to your next internship experience.
Your goal is to be brief in your explanation and to let them ask you for details if they want to know more.
Your full-time work experience should be answered similarly to your internships.
However, if you have full-time experience, the interviewers will likely ask you more details about it over internships because internships don’t require as much responsibility as full-time jobs.
But again, keep it simple and short until they ask for more details.
This UX design interview question is used to weed out the real UX designers from the fakes.
If an interviewee calls himself/herself a UX designer but then tells the interviewer that they start with making mockups or wireframes, the interviewer will know right away that this person is a UI designer at most.
UX design is much more all-encompassing than making wireframes and prototypes, and the interviewer wants to know if you’re able to see the bigger picture.
A great user experience designer will talk about these things:
(If you want to go in-depth on the UX design process, read our article on the nine main steps of UX design.)
On top of that, if you can talk about accessibility and how that plays into your designs, you will definitely stand out above many other candidates.
As a matter of fact, talking about accessibility and how I took that into account with my projects was one big reason why I got my first interview with Ally!
Most companies pair UX designers with a project manager and multiple developers.
These three groups are core to most agile teams, so it makes sense that an interviewer might ask about your history working with developers and project managers.
Not only will your answer show if you have worked with these groups before, but it will also reveal your ability to explain the UX design process to non-designers.
There isn’t an exact process for all UX designers when it comes to this question, but here is a strategy that has been working well for me and my team:
As I said, there isn’t one way to make the design process work with developers and managers.
Sometimes, it’s about finding what works best for your particular team within your particular company’s culture.
If there were ever conflicts within your team, which there are bound to be some, then talk about what the problem was and how you and your teammate(s) came to a resolution that was both productive and improved the relationship.
For example, if an engineer didn’t understand why having you as a designer on the team was important, explain how your peacefully explained and resolved that conflict.
Accessibility is a huge component of UX design now.
UX designers are all about empathy, and that includes inclusion for our users that might be visually impaired (e.g. colorblind), motor impaired (e.g. without a hand), or cognitively impaired (e.g. brain trauma).
If you didn’t take accessibility into account during your design process, then interviewers might question your level of expertise and knowledge of users.
Companies want to make their applications and website accessible, for reasons ranging from legal compliance to inclusivity, so they’ll be looking for designers that know how to make that possible.
For this particular UX design interview question, there are four areas of focus for accessibility:
To make your application visually accessible, you can talk about things like how you increased the contrast to be WCAG AA compliant.
You can also talk about how you made the text size on your application larger than a certain size to help users who have trouble seeing small fonts.
To make your application audibly accessible, you might talk about how you coordinated with developers to structure your website with the proper <h> tags.
That way screen readers (like Macbook VoiceOver) can properly parse (aka read) your website and blind users can have the best user experience possible.
To make your application mobily accessible, you can talk about how you worked with developers to make tabbing through your website as quick and easy as possible for users.
You might have done this by allowing users to tab through your website quickly, possibly by allowing them to skip to the main content of the page (by skipping the menu at the top of the page).
To make your application cognitively accessible, you might talk about how you limited the number of actions, features, and colors to a small amount on a single page.
This can be done to not overwhelm users who have a difficult time processing too many CTA’s (or Call To Actions).
There are so many ways to help your disabled users, so if you haven’t started learning about accessibility already, here’s a great article to help you get started.
For this UX design interview question, interviewers are looking at your ability to deal with failure or things not going to plan.
Whether it’s because of client relationship problems or users not liking your product, they want to know how you were able to pivot, or bounce back.
They also want to know how you handle projects under pressure, because there are bound to be pressure and things going sideways in the job you’re interviewing for.
It’s important to be structured in the way you answer this question.
Using the STAR method will really help you here:
Like storytelling, you want to give context to your predicament and background to your situation.
You can normally cover your bases by answering the five W’s: who, what, when, where, why.
Who was involved?
What was the mood during the project (e.g. everyone was stressed because of the short deadline).
When did this happen?
Where were you?
Why did the business choose you and your team for this project?
What was the task for your team?
What was the task specific to you?
What was your role in this particular situation?
Now you can talk about what you did to remediate the problem.
How did you assess the problem?
How did you plan your action or response?
Were there any setbacks to your initial course of action?
If so, why did this happen, and how did you change your response?
You want to tell the interviewer what the good result was from the way you pivoted to a better solution in your project.
And if you can describe specific metrics, like “we increased conversion by 23%,” then you appear to be more knowledgeable.
You can also talk about what you might have done slightly differently next time to improve the solution or metric even further.
This shows interviewers that you reflected on what worked and didn’t work and can do even better next time if/when it comes up with this new position.
You want to be up-to-date as a designer in our field.
UX design is changing and morphing all the time.
Design doesn’t stand still because technology doesn’t stand still.
As people’s understanding of phones, tablets, laptops, computers, and whatever new tech that comes out grow and solidify, so do the affordances associated with that technology.
Interviewers want to know if you’re keeping up with the rapidly changing times.
Not to mention, many UX designers (including interviewers) enjoy talking about trends, so this is a fun way for them to chat with you about design trends.
If you really enjoy UX, then this should be one of the more fun UX design interview questions.
There are plenty of ways to keep up with UX trends.
Here are just a few of the many options available to you:
If you really know your stuff, then you might even be able to teach them about a new trend.
If you’re able to do that and get them really excited, then you’re sure to make a good impression.
And in case you’re wondering, during the time of this writing: rounded buttons and edges, vivid colors, and clean/simple designs are trending!
The absolute best UX designers are able to measure quantitative and prove qualitative success.
That means you shouldn’t limit yourself to just talking to users–you should also be looking at metrics.
There are two main reasons interviewers ask this question.
The first reason is that they want to know exactly how you improved the experience for users, and metrics are a good, solid way to prove that the work you did truly improved the user experience.
The second reason is because if you’re able to show improving metrics, that means you’ll be better equipped at talking with developers and product managers.
Metrics tend to be easier for these groups to understand because the numbers are easier to process and see on the effects of UX design on the larger audience.
Plus, metrics are what product managers use to tell the business folks and higher ups how their team and products are doing.
If you can prove that you have the know-how on all this, then you’ll stand out a great deal from many other designers.
I recommend that you start looking into metrics before even interviewing for your next job.
There are multiple analytics tools out there to do this, from Google Analytics to Power BI.
You can also work with your product manager and developers to set up the analytics on your products.
You want to be looking for things like page views on the help page, how many users finish the sign up process, and retention rates.
If worst to worst, your product manager will have some metric knowledge as it is, and you can ask about how different metrics changed or improved over a period of time.
The more specific data you can get, the better.
If talking to interviewers, be sure to mention things like how your design changes helped improve retention rates (which are normally expressed as a percentage), sign up completion rates, or how the FAQ you designed reduced calls by X percent.