I have been on both ends of ux interviews. I know, from experience, that interviewing can be nerve recking and challenging. After all, you are selling yourself!
Over time, I’ve adopted a few healthy mindsets that have helped me through the challenges of interviewing. I hope they help you too.
1. HR is paying a LOT of money to find viable candidates.
Remember you are wanted. HR can spend $10-20K to find a good UX candidate for a job and up to 3 months or more to place the right candidate. It’s a LOT of money and time. So remember, they are looking for YOU.
This truth about HR helps you from feeling dejected during the process. You have nothing to lose, and only to gain. They want you.
2. Stay positive.
Some people who interview are in a BAD mindset. They either hate their current job or are in between jobs. Don’t talk negatively about past employment or your situation. Stay positive.
3. Rejection is a sign that you are rusty.
Think about it – once you’re in a job, you really don’t interview after a loooong time. The skills and the mindset needed to land a good job is something you learn over practice.
4. How you are treated during a UX interview, says a lot about the company – and not you.
I’ve interviewed at places where the people who interviewed me were very critical. I’d come home dejected and feel like something was wrong with me. Amazing how an interview can do that!
However, now I realize these people are just WEIRD. How so? It’s taken me many years to get this – but it’s simple. People who make you feel uncomfortable or feel bad – are not worth your time.
A candidate may not be qualified for a job – but interviewers who make the candidate feel bad is an indicator of a company’s messed up culture.
I’ve had UX interviews where I was positive, my answers were VERY good — and the person on the other line was stale, dry and not encouraging. Was I the problem or them? People behaving strangely is typically an indicator of their company’s culture and not you.
If you are nice, friendly, knowledgeable, share your work and try your best – and are met with weirdness, be happy they didn’t choose you! AND have the courage to reject them if they make an offer. No one wants to work with weird people. Not worth the money and headache.
5. Smile and be human.
A lot of interviewing has to do with rapport. You’ll be amazed what people say after the interview. “I felt like he/she wasn’t interested in us!” or “I feel like he is a flight risk.” People like people who are similar to them and who are real human beings. Smile, share some jokes, break the ice, have a good time. Positive emotions are contagious.
6. Stop proving yourself. Start expressing yourself.
Interviewing is a lot like dating. When you are chasing someone else and proving the value you offer, you actually are hurting your self esteem.
When you know your own value – that you are enough and wanted – thats when you meet the right person/job.
7. Qualify them and turn it into a dialog.
A majority of a UX interview is spent with people asking you questions (the word for this is qualifying, in sales). When there is 5 minutes left they sometimes give you an opportunity to ask your questions! Wow. That’s a bit backwards.
I try and have it be more of a dialog rather than a Q&A session. If they ask a question, I’ll answer it and then ask them a question back. It’s a dance.
I also make sure I am TRULY interested in the company. This is an opportunity for me – and i want to know about the company. It’s a healthy curiosity – not an annoying prying. See question #8 for the right mindset.
8. Ask how you can help them.
While the interview is an opportunity for you and you are qualifying them too – don’t have an entitlement mindset!
You want to go in with the mindset, “I’m here to help.” Otherwise why would they want you? Stay humble. Ask each group/person you meet – how you can help them. Ask them what their biggest problem is. This way of thinking is probably different than 90% of people out there. Most people sit passively and await the questions. Instead, try and lead and see how you can help them out and fit their needs.
Phew. That’s a lot of tips! But I hope it helped. These are just my own learnings – so try them out and see if they work for you and your personal style. The UX interview process can be tough, but with practice and mental toughness, you can become a UX interviewing pro. 🙂
When the time comes to interview, review these and carry on confidently.