UX Interview Question Answers (Part 1)

1. What is UX to you?

User experience is a way of thinking, a mindset, and for me, a lifestyle. UX is primarily about using empathy and compassion to create purposeful and useful solutions to problems.

Empathy in UX is not limited to develop empathy with users; it is developing empathy with stakeholders, clients, colleagues, and others. I believe UX is about going beyond empathy, into compassion. Compassion is developing empathy and being moved to help or acting on that empathy.

UX is an ever-changing and iterative process. It is a sum of its parts, from: planning, research, information architecture, interaction design, visual design, and other methods; and the results are purposeful, delightful, and pleasing experiences.

2. What is your process?

Honestly, I don’t have a set process. All projects are different; each project has its own stakeholders, users, constraints, and challenges. Each project must be treated differently, which is what makes UX beautiful!

And as a young designer, I understand that my process will be constantly evolving as I become more experienced. As a designer, I believe you should always be open to improving your process.

That being said, there are a few steps that I believe each project should follow. All projects should start with collaboritve planning. This involves all stakeholders, clients, and all different teams working on the project planning the project together. Communication throughout a project is one of the keys to success.

Planning is a step that should not be skipped. Yesterday, I was planning on making an easy “tater tot waffle” recipe that I found on Pinterest. I went out and bought all the ingredients without taking time to make a list. As I started whisking together all the ingredients to make the batter, I realized that I didn’t have any cheese. So, I went to the store across the street real quick to get some cheese. Then after having the batter ready, I realized that I didn’t even have a waffle iron. So, then I had to go to another store just to get a waffle iron. Next thing I know, what should’ve taken me around 20 min to make had taken me a couple of hours. All because of poor planning! And honestly, they didn’t even taste the great. Lack of planning leads to wasted resources.

Planning starts out with identifying and understanding the problem, and working together to understand the root causes of the problem as far down as possible. Some techniques I enjoy are the: 5 whys method, assumption reversal, and analogy methods. Without first understanding the root causes of the problem, you cannot create viable solutions.

You can view more of my “process” here: http://paulgay.io/

3. Why does UX matter?

UX matters to me because we are in the golden age of technology. The amount of technology we have at our disposal is incredible. Technology is always growing, which means competition is always growing. If you do not provide a great user experience, you will lose your users in an instant to other competitors that offer a better user experience. Our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter with advancements in technology. This means if your website, app, or service does not satisfy their needs our purpose for use, they will instantly go elsewhere to find one that does.

That is why UX is a never-ending process. That is the beauty of competition, there will always be a need for innovation and user-friendly experience. The cost of bad UX is too high to be ignored.

4. What’s your process for working with other designers, developers, or product managers?

UX is not only about developing empathy with users. It is about developing empathy with stakeholders, clients, and your team as well. As a UX designer, it is my duty to view things through the contextual lense of: users, stakeholders, etc., but it is also my duty to view things through the views of others involved in the project. This is why communication between everyone involved in the project is so important. Miscommunication or misunderstandings lead to inefficiencies in project completion.

As a designer, I have my own goals and responsibilities, just as developers, engineers, product managers, stakeholders, clients and others do. But at the end of the day, we are all parts of the same team and over-arching goal which is to produce the best product or service possible.

This is an advantage, I believe I have as a young UX designer. I am humble enough to know that I do not know everything and that I have to prove myself as a valuable member of a team. This means understanding the motivations, responsibilities, tools, and frustrations that other members of the team have and being flexible with how I work with them. This means when they give me any insight into how I can make their jobs easier, I take it to heart and apply it from thereon out. The worst thing I can do as a young designer is to be have to be told the same thing repeatedly.

I am also continuing to learn front-end web development which will help me understand their constraints and they tools they use.

5. How do you get into the mindset of a user and anticipate their needs and actions?

I think the key is to look at your users as people, not problems. As silly as it may seem, you must simply view users as people. Users are never the problem. It is my job to identify the problems with the user experience and then study the users to understand the problem and develop solutions.

The only way to get into the mindset of users is to actually study or observe them and to talk to them. There are many ways to go about this, and you must choose which methods fit into your constraints while providing the most value.

Some popular methods I use are: user interviews, contextual inquiry, surveys, and card sorting. Each of these methods can be used a building blocks to developing empathy with your users. These methods supplement each other to create a more detailed representation of your target users: personas, empathy maps, user stories, and others.

6. What are your biggest strengths?

One of my biggest strengths is my humbleness. I understand that there is so much more out there for me to learn. It is impossible to know everything, especially as technology continues to advance as does the way we interact with technology.

That means that I will never stop learning. I am confident in my skills, but also humble enough to understand that to be successful in this field, I will need to learn from others. I don’t go into any project with a mindset that I know everything. Instead, I go into every project with an open mind. I see every project as a way for me to grow and and opportunity to become a better designer.

This humbleness allows me to easily develop not only repertoire with people, but also empathy and compassion. Being humble does not mean that I am not confident in my skills as a UX designer and problem solver, it only means that I am not so set in my ways that I ignore the feedback or advice of others.

7. What is your biggest weakness?

One of my biggest weaknesses is saying “I think…” too often. Too many times I start off sentences with “I think…” , this can make it seem like I am not confident in what I am saying, which is often not the case. This is especially important in design as I will have to not only explain, but defend my design decisions.

I have been working to break the habit of saying “I think…” too often. I find myself stopping myself before saying it. Simply being aware that I have this habit has helped me work to break the habit.

8. Do you work better on a team or on your own?

Both. I enjoy alone time to really focus on my work at hand. I have the ability to completely immerse myself into a project. Sometimes I can go for hours without taking a break (I blame this on having to write economic research papers). I love going on these “sprints” when I immerse myself into a project and get rid of any distractions.

That does not mean I don’t like working with teams. I love working with teams. Working in an effective team leads to more efficiency and I believe it leads to more complete and useful solutions. By working together, you can feed off each others’ energy and ideas. I am only one person, I cannot come up with effective solutions on my own. Effective solutions are created through working together and using each others’ expertise together.

I am a morning person, this is a trait I inherited from my mom. She grew up on an orange farm in Jeju-do, Korea. She grew up waking up at 4:30 AM every morning to help out her family before walking to school. My mother at 57 years old still wakes up at 4:30 AM. Being a light sleep, I naturally became a morning person too. I love to wake up early and get my alone working time out of the way while others aren’t working yet, this allows me to easily balance alone time and team time.

Yes, this is me.

9. What are the basic philosophies or principles that inform your designs?

I view UX as a philosophy, theses are principles I apply not only to my designs, but also to how I live my life.

Be Humble

I think humility is one of the most important qualities a UX designer should have. UX design requires being able to collaborate well with others and to be open-minded. As a designer, you will be challenged and you will have to be able to defend your decisions. But you will also have to be able to admit you are wrong sometimes and be willing to accept those critiques. Some of your ideas that you worked so hard one will ultimately fail in front of users. You have to be able to accept that and get right back up and create useful solutions.

Be Compassionate

I believe in going beyond developing empathy with users, teammates, stakeholders, and others. I believe in compassionate design. I seek to not only understand people, but to feel for them.

Be Credible and Trustworthy

Credibility and trust are so hard to earn, but so easy to lose. Losing credibility and trust of users is one of the worst things you can do as a designer.

Be Transparent

I believe in transparency as a way to gain trust of others. Being transparent with your shortcomings is also something that I believe all good UX designers possess.

Help Others

I believe you should always be willing to help others. You never know when you will need help yourself. And honestly, helping others just makes me feel good.

Empathize

As a designer, I am always seeking to understand those around me. This even involves understanding their backgrounds, cultures, social norms, and other factors that help you to understand others.

10. What’s the difference between a good and great designer?

I think a great designer understands the greater picture. Great designers are always seeking to further their understanding of users, stakeholders, and those around them. They know that they must work well with others.

Great designers are knowledgable about many fields. They use insights from design, psychology, business, sociology, and other ares to inform their design decisions. They are always learning and never become complacent with their learning.

A great designer is never afraid to fail. When they do fail, they seek to understand why they failed in order to learn from their mistakes. And lastly, a great designer puts others above themselves. They are able to put the ego aside and truly understand others and the problem at hand.

These are just a few questions that I wanted to answer as a way to offer more insight to the type of designer I am. It was also great to take a step back and observe myself. I hope you enjoyed learning more about me.

Parts 2 and 3 coming soon!