Acing the UX Job Hunt — Part 2: Interview Prep

Great job you landed that elusive interview! Now what? Now you get to become a salesperson. Not just any salesperson though. You have to be the best you possibly can at selling yourself.

Great job you landed that elusive interview! Now what? Now you get to become a salesperson. Not just any salesperson though. You have to be the best you possibly can at selling yourself. I don’t know about you but interviews stress me out, so if I don’t thoroughly plan and prepare for them I will be a nervous wreck. In my concerted effort to spare you from making the same mistakes I did, I want to give you some tips on how you can better prepare for your next job interview. I’m not going to get into the super common stuff like “research the company”, “look professional” or any of that. I’m talking about the stuff that I learned through trial and error over countless interviews.

Let’s get to it!

Script your responses

I tend to go completely blank during interviews, and I forget what to say. Then other times I’ll go off on a tangent and lose track of the point I was trying to make in the first place. Either way, it doesn’t look good in an interview. I stopped doing this by scripting my answers to the most common interview questions. You know, the questions like “Tell me about yourself?” or “What’s your biggest strength?” or my all-time favorite “Why do you want to work for [insert company name]?” This can help you stay focused and stay on track during your interview.

I also use this approach for my case studies. You should prepare to present a portfolio piece during your interview. Most of the time they will allow you to select the project you would like to present to them so this is a great place to write down the key points of the project you want to highlight during the interview. DO NOT read your case study word for word from your portfolio. I know this sounds obvious but I’ve seen it happen. Summarize the key points and move on. They can go back and read it all if they would like to. Oh, and prepare more to present more than one project just to be safe.

Use the job description

The name of the game while interviewing is to check as many boxes as you can. What better way to do that than to make sure that all of your responses do just that. Use the job description to guide your responses during your interview. One thing that I like to do while I’m preparing is to dissect the job description and match the qualifications and skills they are looking for with my previous experiences.

Let’s look at an example. Say one of their requirements for this position is to have strong interpersonal and communication skills. To meet that requirement I will be sure to mention how important collaboration is to me and how I have worked well with others on previous projects. I will take every chance I get to ensure they understand that I’m a good communicator.

Have Questions

Okay, I guess this is one of those common interview prep tips, but it is essential. My rule of thumb is to have more questions than I could ask within the allotted time frame for the interview. You are interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. You need to ask questions to make sure that the company you are interviewing for is a good fit for you. Ask about the company culture. Ask them what they like and dislike about working there. Ask about personal development. If there is anything specific that you are looking for in a company then ask about it.

Some of my go-to questions are:

  • What is the company culture like?
  • What do you like about working at the company?
  • What does your design process look like?
  • What are your goals for this position?
  • What does success look like in this position?
  • How are design tasks assigned?
  • Where do you see design going in the future at this company?
  • Is there any reason why I wouldn’t be a good fit for this position?

Welp. That’s all folks!

These tips are things that have worked for me, so this isn’t the only way you can prepare, and it may not be the best way for you, but it can give you a good place to start. It will also ease some stress because now you can go into your interview with a plan. Control the things you can control and don’t worry about the rest. You can control how you prepare for an interview. Put in the time and the effort and don’t leave things up to chance. Make sure you leave that interview knowing that you did the absolute best you could. Keep your head up. I believe in you! Keep striving for knowledge and keep moving forward on your UX journey. Please feel free to share your interview prep tips or comment with any questions.