Reframe your experience to speak to different interviewers
We can illustrate this by answering the same question to different interviewers using a research project as an example.
Your first interaction will often be with the recruiter. Understand that recruiters sort through hundreds of applicants for multiple open roles at the same time, so it’s important for recruiters to find candidates whose experience best align with the role’s requirements.
Recruiter: Tell me about your experience with user research.
Me: User research is a very important part of my process. I have experience conducting user interviews, usability tests, card sorting, and online surveys. At my current role, I’m particularly involved in user testing, and I write the test guides, implement the tests, and synthesize the results.
For UX Designers, this person will often be a senior or lead designer who you will report directly into. Their goal is to hire someone who is capable, so they will scrutinize your skills more than others. It is important to talk specifics here, so they can have an accurate assessment of your skills. It is also important that you can present your ideas clearly and with confidence because presenting is a key skill good designers will have.
Hiring manager: Tell me about your experience with user research.
Me: I have experience with user interviews, usability tests, card sorting, and online surveys. Recently, I lead a project to redesign the most trafficked page on our site; the search page. I conducted 10 user interviews with recruiters, job seekers and employers, and 5 contextual inquiries with current job seekers to see how they interacted with the page. We found that when looking at search results, users had trouble finding what they were looking for. To address that pain point, we prioritized designing a more robust filtering feature on the search results page.
The UX Designer often works very closely with the Product Manager to a point where some of our responsibilities may even overlap. PMs are mainly looking for a partner who understands their world at the intersection of business, technology, and UX. It is important that your process is informed by customer data and you can point to results that impact the business.
Product Managers/Owners: Tell me about your experience with user research.
Me: I believe design and business decisions should be informed by findings from user research. It is important to do research at the discovery stage to inform design decisions, as well as after something has launched to measure success. My most recent research project was for a search page where we saw a high drop off rate. I interviewed users and conducted contextual inquiries to try and identify the pain points. The result of that research was to design a more robust filtering feature because users were overwhelmed by having too many search results. In just the first month after launch, we saw a 50% reduction in the drop off rate.
Designers and engineers need to have a respectful and collaborative working relationship. Engineers are the builders of your designs and experiences, but they are also stakeholders and should be involved with every project from the start. Engineers want to know that what they are building comes from a well thought out process backed by user research. It’s great to have worked in an Agile environment, but it’s not always necessary because the process is relatively easy to pick up.
Engineers: Tell me about your experience with user research.
Me: It’s important that every project start with user research. I want to make sure the projects we build together are based on data and are addressing real user problems. At my current role, I designed a new filtering feature for our search page because we found in our research users were overwhelmed with getting too many search results. My prefered working style with engineers is very collaborative. I often include engineers in user research workshops and design reviews because they are very much part of my design process.
Other UX designers
Speaking from my own experience as a designer, I like to work collaboratively, and that happens best when there’s mutual respect between designers. We are problem solvers and life-long learners, and we want to work with people who have diverse experiences we can learn from. We want thinking partners to help evolve our ideas together. We want honest and constructive feedback to help hone our craft. We don’t want egos. We understand that we don’t have all the answers, and we want someone with the ambition and enthusiasm to figure it out.
Other UX designers: Tell me about your experience with user research.
Me: Research is the foundation of my design process. Design decisions should be made based on what we learn from our users. Recently, I lead a discovery project where the Product Manager and I conducted 10 user interviews and 5 contextual inquiries for a page that had a high drop off rate. I invited engineers, designers, and other stakeholders to listen in on the sessions and to synthesize our findings to make sure I included perspectives from different parts of the business. That research lead to the design of a new search filtering feature that reduced the drop off rate by 50% in just the first month. Those are great results, but I still think there are improvements to be made.
This content was originally published here.