The 7 Questions You’ll Be Asked at a UX Design Interview
(And how to prepare for them)
Landing a job is hard work. While it’s impossible to know (beforehand) the answer to every question that an interviewer asks you, there are a few common questions that you can prepare for. Nailing the answers to these won’t guarantee you a job, but they will improve your chances of success. Just remember to tailor them to each individual interview based on the job description and company.
Below is my list of seven fundamental UX interview questions, along with tips and tricks on how to answer them.
1. What is UX design? Why does it matter? How would you explain the UX design process?
What they’re trying to figure out: Do you have the basics down right?
Even though this is a fairly general question, don’t provide general answers. Focus on giving a specific definition that sheds light on who you are as a designer. Your explanation should be clear and accessible. (Imagine that you’re explaining it to a 10-year-old).
For the “why does this matter” question, use it as an opportunity to showcase your passion for the company’s approach to design. You can also use it to tell a story that provides context for your own design perspective and focuses on the importance of human-centered experiences.
When answering the “How would you explain the UX design process?“ question, focus on each of the following areas:
- User Research
- Information Architecture
- User Interface Design
- Interaction Design
- Experience Strategy
Tip: Focus your definition of UX design around empathy and the importance of understanding the people you are designing for. This usually means that as a UX designer you should strive to design surveys and interview users to harness data.
2. What is your design process? Describe the design methods that you follow.
What they’re trying to figure out: Can you back up your words with great work?
When explaining your design process, you can either describe your potential approach to a typical project (good), or you can explain how you’ve done it in the past on other projects (better). Walk your interviewer through your project(s) by using stories:
- Follow a typical story arc: background, opportunity, process, ups and downs along the way, and the final outcome.
- Be specific when you talk about the steps that you took from conception to completion of the project.
- Acknowledge your design context: Different UX situations require different UX processes. It’s a strength to use your environment to determine the process that works best for a particular situation.
Don’t be afraid if your process isn’t the same as that of other designers. What does matter is your ability to explain the rationale behind your approach.
Tip: It’s a good idea to talk about a user-centered approach to design, which follows a thorough understanding of both user and business goals. But it’s more powerful to mention it in context of a specific project.
You’ll probably want to touch on each of the following techniques in context of your project(s):
- User Research: What methods did you use? Why did you choose to use them?
- User Personas: What was your process of creating personas? How many “personas” did you create? How did they help you?
- Customer Journey Map and User Flows: What did your customer journey map include?
- Prototypes and Wireframes: Describe how you progressed from low-fidelity prototypes (e.g. a sketch on a piece of paper) to hi-fidelity prototypes (e.g. Adobe XD interactive prototypes). How many iterations were made during prototyping and what were they? What challenges did you face?
- Metrics and Analytics: Explain through quantitative data the increase in sign ups, sales, or other conversions as a result of your design decisions.
3. What’s your process for working with other designers, developers, or product managers?
What they’re trying to figure out: Are you a culture fit?
Your interviewer wants to get a sense of your working style. Design is a team sport and, as a UX designer, it’s crucial that you know how to effectively communicate design decisions with the team from the beginning of the project right through to implementation.
Keep in mind that each team member probably sees a given project through different contextual lenses, but you need be able to communicate with all of them to quickly spot any problems or misunderstandings.
The ability to empathize and understand the motivations of those around you is crucial. Developers, PMs, and other designers will all come with their own particular needs and goals, and if you can demonstrate that you’re listening to all of them, you’ll be well received:
- Developers — For effective collaboration with engineers try to understand the technology stack and get a good sense of constraints and opportunities.
- PMs — To work well with product managers, remember to translate prototypes into proper specifications, usually in the form of detailed stories.
- Designers — Designers typically have continuous cycles of pairing and siloing, followed by structured critique sessions. Having self-awareness about the way you work and demonstrating flexibility is the key to success.
Tip: When responding to this question, ask your interviewer to describe the current team structure, roles, and existing processes. Ask for any issues they’re currently facing. You can frame your experience in terms of solving their problems. Let the interviewer see how passionate you are about bringing your skills and experience not just to the position but to the company itself.
4. How would you decide which features to add to your product?
What they’re trying to figure out: Are you able to validate or reject a hypothesis in order to create a new solution?
This is a really hard question to answer because it is very dependent on context. If the question is asked in context of building a new piece of software, you can talk about how an MVP (minimum viable product) could be developed.
If the question is asked in context of an existing product, you should focus on the fundamentals of product strategy. Before drilling down on specific features, you will need to develop a clear picture of the business goals and user needs. You should be ready to answer the following questions:
- Who is the user?
- What are the user’s goals?
- Why should the user care about a feature? What problems does it solve?
Tip: This is also a great time to show how you would use user research to validate design decisions. Often, when faced with a challenge, gathering a lot of user-generated data can help move a designer forward. Once enough data has been collected and the user’s goals have been validated, you can determine which new features are best aligned with business goals, and ultimately, how the features will be prioritized.
5. Tell us about a project that you’re most proud of.
What they’re trying to figure out: What are your strongest and weakest qualities?
This is a tricky question because it puts candidates at ease, which, in turn lets the interviewer ask follow-up questions that dig into process, thinking, and interactions with other team members. It allows the interviewer to assess the candidate’s depth and skill without directly asking about it. As a result, it’s best to keep your answer truthful and clear. Don’t exaggerate your contribution to a project.
Tip: Note that the question here doesn’t contain the word “UX.” It’s perfectly OK to step into the wider realms of your life in your answer.
6. Tell us about a UX project that didn’t go as planned.
What they’re trying to figure out: Are you able to critically evaluate your work?
First things first, do not pretend that you’ve never had such a project. Making mistakes is a normal part of work life. What’s critical is how you handle them. You need to find an honest example that shows:
- What went wrong
- Why it went wrong
- What you did to address the failure
- What you learned from that experience
Tip: The key is to acknowledge your weakness and then offer a reason that you could turn it into a strength. We all learn from our mistakes.
7. What would you say is the next big trend in UX design?
What they’re trying to figure out: Do you think ahead?
Use this question as an opportunity to demonstrate your passion for UX design and its future potential. Here are a couple of topics you could focus on: The rise of new prototyping tools that save developers and designers time by converting design to code. Designing for accessibility that allows users of all abilities to navigate, understand, and use your UI successfully.
Tip: This question is also a great opportunity to talk about use cases beyond screens (i.e. Virtual reality/Augmented reality).
Bonus: Where do you get inspiration from? Who in the industry do you follow and read?
What they’re trying to figure out: What motivates and inspires you?
Talk about the blogs and books you read, the conferences you’ve attended, and industry leaders that you follow.
A list of my favorite blogs in the industry (in no particular order):
- UX Booth
- Digital Telepathy
- 52 Weeks of UX
- UX Myths
- Intercom blog
- UserTesting blog
- Nielsen Norman Group blog
- Smashing Magazine
My list of people to follow:
And here is a recommended reading list for anyone who wants to learn or deepen their knowledge in UX:
- The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman
- About Face: The Essentials of Interaction Design by Alan Cooper
- The Shape of Design by Frank Chimero
- 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People by Susan Weinschenk
- A Practical Guide to Information Architecture by Donna Spencer
- Don’t Make Me Think and Rocket Surgery Made Easy by Steve Krug
- The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond by Jesse James Garrett
- Designing for Emotion by Aarron Walter
- Designing Interactions by Bill Moggridge
- Getting Real and Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson (Basecamp)
- Prototyping A Practitioner’s Guide by Todd Zaki Warfel
The missing question
You might be wondering why this list doesn’t include the ubiquitous “Why should I hire you?” question. It’s because I don’t have a guide for how to answer it. You have to figure it out for yourself. The only thing I would say is: Be honest with yourself. Have a clear idea of why you’d want to work for the company, because, ultimately, your enthusiasm (or lack of it) will come through.
One last thing: Don’t script your responses — you’ll just end up sounding inauthentic. Instead have some key headlines (the things you want to talk about) in mind before you start answering questions.
Good luck and let me know how you got on in the comments below!
Nick Babich is a developer, tech enthusiast, and UX lover. He has spent the last 10 years in the software industry with a specialized focus on development.