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3 things that make UX interviews harder

3 things that make UX interviews harder

As a hiring manager, my task is not to find out if you can already do the job. There’s no such thing as a perfect match (thank goodness).

My task is to work out how big the gap is between where you are and what I need, and think about how I’m going to get you there.

To do this I need your help.

The UX landscape is complex. I’ve already pointed out in previous posts that the skill set is vast, that everyone is trying to make everyone claim more skills they don’t necessarily need, and that job titles bingo is exhausting. Then to compound this, I have a recruiter sending me someone they think is a match.

I put a lot of effort into training people and helping to develop their careers, so for me it’s skills and experience, yes, but more importantly attitude and desire to learn. The rest is my job.

So in a 1 hour snapshot, I need to somehow get a true understanding of the person, where they are in their career and what they need from me.

Here are 3 things that make interviews harder:

1. Not being authentic

Yes you are nervous at interview. Good. This means you care. I feel the same when I interview. But trying to put on a false front, being super formal or being something you’re not doesn’t work. People see through it or at least feel intuitively that something’s not right.

Recommendation: Be yourself. If you don’t get the job as yourself, you don’t want to work there.

2. Not saying what YOU did

Humility is good. When you’re in a job, saying “we” feels more team, even if you did most of the work yourself. In an interview, you are flying solo and need to own, with confidence, everything you did.

In fact, in an interview I’ll stop people repeatedly and say “ok, but what did YOU do on that project”. And I’m doing this not because I’m an *ss, but because I genuinely want to know what you have done before, on your own, with no adult supervision.

I don’t care either way, I just want to know where you are in my skills matrix, what kind of work I can put you to straight away, and what kind of training you may need.

Recommendation: Say “we” when you had help, say “I” when you did it yourself. And don’t get caught saying you did something you didn’t …

3. Trying to hide what you can’t do

You don’t need to do every skill in the product team. You do need to be honest. Most interviewers can tell when someone is dodging around a subject.

If you turn up for an interview without the primary requested skill then either you’ve lied or the recruiter has (that’s a separate discussion requiring a stout stick). But if I ask for something random, related or extra while we’re talking, I’m just looking to see where the edge of your skill set is.

If you come to me for a midweight role and I ask about leadership skills it’s not because I expect you to have them, it’s because I want to see your potential and your interest in your own personal development.

It’s not criticism. I’m not trying to trick you. I’m fully aware that some interviewers do this, and they are *ssholes you don’t want to work for. I’ve experienced that in an interview, and I walked away very quickly.

Recommendation: Be honest about what you can do, be ambitious about what you want to do.

There are so many things I could (and probably will) write about the interview process. It’s challenging for both sides but it has to be reciprocal — can we make a better version of my team and your career if we work together? And for this we need honesty and clear communication.

I’m not going to not hire someone because they don’t have All The Skills today. It’s my job to develop you into what I need and what you want to be. But I am going to not hire someone because they do these three things in an interview.

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