Despite UX being a core part of many businesses for some time now, there is still some misconception when choosing the UX designer for the job.
To clear up that misconception, I think we have to look closely at the hiring of a salesperson, who has been around for as long as there is something to gain financially. There is a striking similarity between UX Designer and salesperson when comes to do the job, and I will explain how.
General misconception when hiring a UX designer is, that previous industry experience is essential. That’s where things start to go wrong!
When hiring a software engineer, we generally ask for their past industry experience. E.g if we need a software engineer to design an accounting software for us, it would be ideal to have someone who has extensive knowledge and experience in accounting/bookkeeping etc software development. If someone has designed maritime software, although he/she is a great engineer it will take a considerable amount of time for them to understand the accounting basics and constraints. Hence make sense to find one with similar past experience.
Same goes when hiring an app developer. You will not hire a web developer or even full stack developer to develop your mobile app, so much so you will even go for the more specific developer, like android or IOS. Although with some training and practice a web developer can become an app developer but unfortunately he/she cannot substitute the experienced developer in relevant field.
However when it comes to hiring UX or Salesperson, above scenario become irrelevant. I’ll explain how.
Similarities between UX Designer and Salesperson
When hiring a salesperson, our primary criteria is to evaluate their ability to sell and everything else comes secondary. We’ll not hire the salesperson for our telecom business who has worked in telecom sector for 10 years but only managed to secure a handful of deals. Yet we’ll happily hire a salesperson from the recruitment sector who hasn’t work in telecom before but he/she knows HOW to sell.
The same rule applies when hiring UX designer. When we need to hire a UX designer, main criteria should be their ability to perform UX and understanding human behaviour, not the relevant industry experience. UX is a set of many processes and UX designer is the person who knows how and when to use either some or all processes to achieve the required goals.
How I hire UX Designers!
When I jumped into the financial industry, I hadn’t got a clue about it. But in a matter of weeks, I knew about the financial industry standards and its specific users. All I had to do is to use my UX skills and pick the ones, which are most suited for the client.
Processes hardly change, you just have to pick the right process(es) that is/are required for the specific industry or project. Same as sales techniques do not change, only the audience.
As hiring manager now, my main criteria to hire a UX Designer is to see their ability to understand the problem and attention to detail, whether it’s visual or behavioural, their knowledge of UX processes and willingness to learn. I will not select a candidate purely because he/she worked in the same industry in the past, it is good to have but not the main skill you should base your decision upon. Their ability to learn and mould into a new industry is a key!