How to Hire Awesome UX Designers
This article first appeared on LinkedIn Pulse, LinkedIn’s effort to get its users to write and create LinkedIn content for free. I have mixed feelings about publishing on this platform. Gaining simple ‘exposure’ seems oddly close to working a job to have a ‘great portfolio piece’. Realizing that my website will get even fewer views than LinkedIn, it made sense to try out my writing in different venues.
Hiring a good User Experience (UX) designer is tough – no question. Hiring managers find many candidates who are long on talk and short on verifiable certifications, degrees or experience. But separating valuable candidates from the inexperienced or under-qualified isn’t as daunting as it seems, even if you don’t have much experience hiring for this kind of position.
When hiring a UX designer, look mainly at deliverables – what the person has produced as part of his past work. A valuable UX designer will have a portfolio full of clickable prototypes. They should produce these without writing too much code or spending too much time (or money). The deliverable (in the form of a click-through mockup) helps product teams understand what they’ll deliver to users, get feedback, and decide if it’s the best course of action. Click-through mockups also help developers determine the scope of what they’ll be making and how that application should function through animations, messaging and other interactions.
A word of warning: if a candidate shows only static layouts or wireframes, chances are high that he won’t be valuable to your organization as a UX designer. Deliverables such as written requirements, user personas etc. are ultimately not of high value either, for the simple fact that very few people in your organization will take the time to read these. Advertisers have it right; the simple and the visual always trumps the complex and the written.
Your next valuable UX hire will show in the interview some combination of static images produced on Illustrator/Photoshop, strung together into clickable prototypes using HTML or one of the popular prototyping apps like InVision (and there are many others). She could also show a variety of deliverables using ScreenFlow, After Effects, Vimeo, PowerPoint or Keynote.
She’ll also demonstrate a keen understanding of the user and what problems need to be solved. Understanding and empathizing with the user, however, is not enough. To provide true value to an organization, a UX designer needs to take that user empathy and show the solution visually to managers, developers and product management.
If you focus on candidates who produce these kinds of deliverables, then you’ll have a higher chance of adding value to your company by hiring a ‘true’ UX designer. Look for deliverables that mimic the way users actually interact in the world of screens (of all sizes). Suddenly, you don’t need to rely on titles, degrees, prior experience or a candidate’s bold pronouncements. You can look at his work and know what kind of deliverables makes someone a valuable UX designer.