Finding a UX Design Job: Chapter 3

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Rain is a recent UX Design Immersive graduate, full time UX designer, and fan of good clean designs. In this blog she tells her story of finding a job and her insights to the London UX field. Here are her first and second chapters.

So I did the leg work and the phone was finally ringing. Each company is different in its process of hiring, as are recruiters. I will try and cover all here:

The email:

This can come from any of the online places you published yourself as well as a direct response to your application. These emails tend to be short and aim to filter you from the other applicants. Questions will be direct and ask for your salary expectations, type of work and starting date. If you don’t know the answer or want to see what they might offer, try and research the company a bit to get a sense of the role before responding. If the person contacting you is in HR or a hiring manager, try and set a face to face interview at this point to skip the phone call stage.

The phone call:

This can be the HR of a company, a recruiter or even the head of UX. They know a little about you, saw your CV and perhaps some of your work, and they want to get a feel for who you are and how you would fit before brining you in. Most will start with “Tell me more about yourself, how did you end up in UX?”, this is your moment to shine and tell your story. Detail your stages in short and explain where you are now (hoping to grow and learn more, etc). The caller will mainly focus on you, so try and ask a bit about the company and the role to give yourself a head start with research, should you be invited in for an interview.

Key: If you’re in a noisy place, bad reception or occupied with something else, as tempting as it is to carry on the conversation, try and reschedule to a time that suites you.

The first interview:

This will change dramatically from company to company and recruiting agencies so I will split these accordingly.

Recruiters:

Usually a more casual and relaxed meeting that won’t take more than 20 minutes of your time. They just want to get a sense of who you are, your personality and how you carry yourself. They will be interested in seeing your work, but rather than focus on how you work, they will focus on how you present it (remember by this stage they’ve most likely seen your portfolio). Be open and friendly, chat a bit and maintain eye contact. They are more likely to try and find you a job if they find you likable and well presented.

Company HR:

This is somewhere between a recruiter and a designer. Most HR managers don’t know much about UX and so you have to explain a bit more about the process and why you did what you did and avoid using UX terminology. Similar to the recruiter, they’ve seen your work by now and will want to get a sense of who you are as a person. They are focusing on how you would fit within the company but also if you fit the job description so try and answer all of their questions as honestly as you can. Once again, try and learn more about the role and the team leader to give yourself a chance to research more in case you get called for an interview with the lead.

The team leader:

Congratulations, you skipped HR and landed straight at your future boss’s table. Sometimes you would have reached this point via a recruiter and sometimes the lead simply picked you out of the CV pile and liked you. This interview is perhaps the hardest of them all. The lead will usually want to learn a lot more about how you work so be prepared to explain your portfolio in much more detail. He will ask you very specific questions and challenge you. This is usually a very busy person with limited time, who has a clear vision of what they want and need for the role. Remember, even if you might be under-qualified for the role, this is your chance to impress and get a mentor who will guide you in your first role.

If you passed this stage you might be given a task. This is a normal part of the process which comes to test your skills as well as your thinking process. Some companies will give you a time frame, others will let you manage your time but in all cases, never take more than 4 days to complete the task and attend the second interview. Ask who you will be presenting to and how long should your presentation be, generally they will aim for a 10 minute presentation.

The second interview:

This is when you either meet the Team leader for the first time (in which case read the previous paragraph) or you’re called back to present your task. You will probably meet team members you haven’t met before; this can be anyone from the HR manager to the project manager or other ux designers. It will be a mixed group, so you must remember some of them might not have no clue what UX is about. When presenting, start by explaining why you are there and what you will be talking about. When going through your process, try and make eye contact with all members: when using UX terms, look at the lead and explain why you decided to use this process, then look at the HR and explain briefly what the process is and what you hoped to learn achieve by it.

After your presentation you will again be asked questions. The lead will ask you more UX focused questions about your process and decisions, while other team members will focus on the why and how you implement these ideas (i.e conduct user research, AB testing) and HR will focus on how you worked and presented.

By this stage you should have a sense if you got the job or not and few companies will ask you to come in again. Ask them for a time frame on their decision and if you have time to ask questions yourself, try and ask about their current process and how they work. It will give you a sense if you “got it right’”.

The third Interview:

This didn’t happen to me very often, but I know some big companies may do so. By now you should have done extensive research on the company and its team members. LinkedIn is a good place, as is Glassdoor for inside information on how companies work. You will be expected to ask far more in depth questions this time around such as: the company’s direction, the lead management style and what they expect from this role. They will also ask you more about things that may need clarifying but also on topics covered before. This is simply a reassurance that you being true and not just saying what they want to hear.

If you’ve reached this point you should be happy with whatever decision they made. Even if you didn’t get the job, it was a hard decision for them to make and you were close. Consider it as evidence that you are good at your job.

As I mentioned in the beginning of chapter 1, this is my own personal journey and my take on things as they happened to me. It may be very different to yours. I wrote these posts in hope it will give better understanding to others as taking a step into an unknown field can be confusing and it always helps to know what might happen next. The process described here is the process I went through in London and I can only imagine how different it is in other cities and countries.

I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

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