Interview Questions for UX Designers

The talent grab for developers is quickly extending to user experience designers. Although design has been around for a long time, the role of a dedicated experience designer is still pretty new. Here are a few questions that I think could be useful when interviewing designers.

1. How would you optimize the user experience of an elevator?

Like cross-walk signals, using an elevator is still a common, but not perfect, experience. It's no trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles, but it could certainly be more pleasant. Some ideas on how to make that experience better:
  • Make the elevator go express when all passengers are headed to the lobby and the elevator is at maximum capacity.
  • Give an indication of the elevator's location, so people waiting can track it's progress.
  • Change the elevators' "holding" location to respond to traffic patterns. E.g. at the top and middle floors during check-out, and at the lobby during check-in.
What does this reveal? UX design is about more than swatches and pixels: it's about solving a problem. A good designer should be able to identify problems and come up with practical solutions, regardless if it's digital or not.

2. What is "visual hierarchy"?

Visual hierarchy describes the importance and order of elements in a layout. It's influenced by position, size, color, contrast, spacing, and pretty much every element of design. What does this reveal? A good understanding of visual hierarchy indicates an awareness (not necessarily a command) of intentional designing. Everything on the page should have purpose. Jason, from 37signals, has an awesome blog post with some simple questions that really sweat the details.

3. What everyday object is an example of great design, and why?

This is one of my favorite questions to ask, mostly because I spend a lot of time thinking about it myself. My least favorite answer for this question is "______ from Apple." Some cool answers:
  • Public bathroom layouts
  • Alarm clocks
  • Wallets
  • Cooking ware
What does this reveal? Someone who can charismatically answer this question is able to communicate design and is comfortable talking about it. As a necessity of working with others, a designer should be able to explain and defend their decisions. A convincing answer also shows that the candidate is able to reverse-engineer a design, which means they're able to learn from others and identify trends.