How to Interview Designers – UX Planet
Plant is in the business of making a version control and collaboration system for designers that makes use of Sketch. Interestingly, we hire designers as well to help us achieve our goals, and as such, interviewing designers have become one of the steps we take in bringing product designers onboard. As the head of your firm’s hiring manager, you’ll do your company a measure of good to look beyond the creativity test.
A product designer is expected to be a creative person. But aside from being creative, you need other skills, mindset, and character from a designer to be worth the hire. However, I have come to realize that many find it difficult to evaluate designers, especially if they are not designers themselves and do not have experience hiring them. If you’re one of these people, follow the tips discussed below to know how to interview designers.
Except if you live in a country where employers are the king and the applicants and even employees do not have a say because of the hardship and lack of job in that country, you also need to prepare yourself. You wouldn’t want to look to your potential employee as an unorganized fellow that stumbles upon words and spend time thinking about what to say and how to say it. Get prepared, and present yourself as someone prepared — there are no two ways about it.
Write down questions you will want to ask the applicant, a comprehensive description of the job, and the budget you have in mind for the position. Also, be prepared to answer questions from designers too, because any designer that knows their opinion has options, and as such, he/she will want to ask questions to know if your firm is a good fit for them. Make sure you stick to time and shave off any applicant that shows up late without any tangible reason — you’ll probably get your work late too.
Did I hear you ask why you shouldn’t be formal? If you have worked as a designer yourself, you’ll come to understand that most of them are geeks and not really cut out for all those formal stuff. If you are open to only the ones that will come out all formal, you’ll weed out some of the best designers because many hate the formal life.
Instead of the traditional question and answer interview format, you can take a different approach. You can make it a chat so the designer will have the chance to speak as comfortable as they can. Not even designers, most people have problems being tensed during interviews because they become the focus and have to answer a lot of questions. However, if it’s a chat and not a question and answer session, such persons become relaxed and become more open.
This is an obvious fact, except if you have some magical powers, there’s no way you can tell with great certainty whether a designer is good at their craft without checking out past work. I have made that mistake in the past; I ones interviewed a guy who from the beginning of the interview seemed highly intelligent. He cracked all the questions and knew all the theoretical stuff. Because I was running late for another meeting, I just employed him — long story cut short, the guy was a disaster.
You have to dig designers portfolio to see what they had worked on before and see if they appeal to you. When I say appeal to you, I do not necessarily mean similar to what you do but to see if a designer has the kind of work and thought that is needed to align with your business goals. If you only lookout for work in your field, you’ll miss out on great designers. Make sure the portfolio is varied and not the same piece over and over again with little twists.
If you read the above point, you’ll think I am advising you to shun looking out for technical knowledge (theory) and look out for the practical knowledge. However, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you are not concerned about the non-practical knowledge. They are the bedrock of the practical and make the difference between a professional that’s high on the ladder and a mediocre.
To many, having practical knowledge is all that’s needed. If all is well, you won’t have problems, but when issues arise, then you’ll come to appreciate theoretical knowledge. If the designer has the other knowledge, he/she can tell why there’s a problem. For example, if a designer does not have the color theory knowledge, they will only see color as a beautification medium rather than a communicative medium and won’t see reasons why people dislike a color pattern as far as it is beautiful.
In case you do not know, people are fond of presenting other people’s work as theirs. This is the reason you shouldn’t base your decision on applicants’ portfolios. You need to test them. For some, this test is for a short while, and this is the best as you wouldn’t want to keep someone for long before letting them know they are not a fit. However, you’ll get the best result if instead of giving generic practical exercises, get the applicant to work with your team for a day, and see how others will rate him.
Doing this will mean it will be a paid test. This is not bad, though, as I have come to the realization that this method works because you should employ people that can relate well with others in your firm and one that others see as competent.
This might not seem obvious to you at the beginning. What you are after is a competent designer that will communicate the mission of your products through their design. But believe me, there’s more to being a good employee than just being competent. Bad energy is contagious, and you wouldn’t want a psychopath and a know it all guy in your team. Look out for pride and other bad behaviors and weed out such candidates immediately.