This week we looked at interview skills.
Imeaditly highlighted in this weeks lecture was the emphasises companies place on their core values and how this impacts hiring decisions.
Core values are incredibly important as they are the “essence of a companies identity” as stated by Nicolas Schoenlaub in his article Core Values – Why are they so important to your company?
In this post on Core Values, Schoenlaub outlines how strong core values can impact a company both internally and externally. The 3 primary areas identified were that they help companies in the decision-making processes, they help to present a clear company identity to clients and potential customers and they are becoming primary recruiting and retention tools.
This should be an important consideration for both the job seeker and the employer.
10 core values that appear common across a variety of organisations are as follows:
- Committed to the 5 “Cs” of Leadership
Competence – they know what they are doing.
Character – they do the right thing, even when it’s not convenient.
Compassion – they care as much about others as they do about themselves.
Catalyst – they remove obstacles and make things happen.
Courage – they speak truth to authority and take responsibility for the performance of their team.
I think these are really important considerations for any job seeker to consider when searching for a job at the right company.
It is also, therefore, unsurprising that employers take Core Values into consideration when they are selecting an employee as well. If when applying for a job you can display the companies core values in your own approach to handling projects etc. this will stand out in an interview.
Other areas to come prepared on include:
- What are your values?
- Prior experience
- Understanding the role
- Willing to learn
- Aspirations/ motivations
- User-centred approach
To help me prepare for interviews I have outlined how I would discuss or present myself in relation to the above areas.
What are my core values?
A primary core value for me is never stopping learning, there is always something new that hasn’t been considered and a way to improve how we currently approach a task or role. This is closely followed by a community mindset. I do not think we should work in isolation, there is so much to be gained by working with others, hearing fresh perspectives and getting feedback on your own work. Therefore these are two areas I will search for in a position and try to identify in my process and mindset as a potential candidate.
How can I demonstrate my prior experience?
I have experience in graphic and UI design in a previous job that I can draw from and refer to. I also have gained great experience in the projects completed throughout my IXD course.
How do I present my understanding of the role?
Good research prior to the interview into areas highlighted in the job description and the company overall should be very helpful with this.
How can I show enthusiasm?
This can be displayed in my understanding of the company and my passion for past projects. I should also direct this towards my core values and the companies core values.
How can I show I am willing to learn?
I think this is a great way to talk about past mistakes and obstacles as we learn by making mistakes and then correcting them. This also shows a level of humility and openness in admitting when you get something wrong.
How can I display my aspirations and motivations?
I am keenly motivated to be value-added to any company. This will be of mutual benefit to myself and the company and therefore this is something that I will definitely try to present in interviews. Another factor that motivates me to get a placement is gaining an understanding of all the areas with UX design and UX research so that I can decide what area is the best fit for me moving into my career.
How can I display me user-centred approach in my work?
This is something I am massively passionate about and would hope to be able to present in my process throughout projects. I think displaying a user/ human-centred approach is all about the empathy stage of the creative process. Any time I talk about user research I can easily bring than back to my focus on meeting the needs of the user. I have also found Teresa Torres’ continuous discovery approach to centre the development of a product around the user more than any other approach to research that I have come across yet therefore it may be advisable to mention how I am trying to incorporate or at least would like to try to incorporate a continuous discovery approach in my process moving forward.
As presented in this weeks lecture whatever the question is you should always try to tie it back to the above questions as what they will be asking will be most likely be related to the above questions in some form. This is good to note as if you are in a situation where you are unable to answer a question you can talk around the topic using the above points as guides. The key is to always answer the question regardless of whether you know the answer or not.
Preparing speaking points
It is a good idea to prepare some speaking points before going for an interview. This does not mean preparing a script. That may come across as overly rehearsed and will likely not fit the questions perfectly. Preparing points is more about having specific projects and stories in mind to refer to throughout the interview. An approach to this might be:
- Considering the backstory of a project
- Have an outline of the challenges faced throughout the project and how you overcame them
- End with a positive note- this does not just mean at the end of the interview, try to end each question with a positive note relating to a final outcome or improvement for the user etc.
What I would probably ass to the above speaking points is when starting to talk about any project I would like to be able to clearly present how I have identified a problem and solves it with my project as this appears to be the case study format on most design studio websites.
Other points to consider are your strengths (this is something I struggled with in the task). Now reflecting on what my strengths are I think my primary strength is my willingness to learn and try new processes. I want to highlight this throughout my interviews by discussing some of the reading I have done outside of course content and explaining how I have tried to implement my learning into my work. I think another strength of min is my focus on process in general and my cross transferable skills gained through Psychology, this will relate mostly to user research.
When it comes to enthusiasm, I think the best way to demonstrate this is to be excited about your work and excited about the company you’re applying for’s work. A great way to double up here is by referring back to your work as an example to verify your understanding of a particular research technique. This provides evidence that you actually know what you’re talking about and can also present your passion for the method and how effective it was in your own experience of using it.
The Design Task vs Portfolio
While a portfolio does show your process some companies opt for a design task to get a better understanding of your work as a designer. I found an article on medium that outlines some reasons why companies prefer design tasks over portfolios.
The first point highlighted is that a design task allows the company to see how you interpret a bride and tackle a problem. This gives a clear overview of how you work both creatively and methodically. It also gives the company a chance to see your process and find out how effective your problem-solving skills are.
A design task also displays how your structure your time as well as your thoughts. This means the employer can get a better understanding of your time management skills. It also means that they can see how you organise and articulate your thoughts.
Prioritisation is a ‘biggy’. In a week there will simply not be enough time to execute the entire design process. This means you have to decide what you should prioritise. This can be helpful in deciding what area within the company is the best fit for you as if you spend a lot of the time on research you may be better suited for a research role etc.
A design task also demonstrates your work ethic as well as your ability to think on the spot. When it comes to thinking on the spot, this is demonstrated in your ability to answer questions at the end, i.e. can you present a clear rationale for your choices and are you comfortable being challenged and taking on feedback.
Given the above points, I can see the place for design tasks and why companies like to use them in their interview process. In these instances, a portfolio is still valuable however it may be used to decide what candidates to interview rather than what candidates to hire.
In this weeks task, we interviewed one another and then filled in the below interview rating sheet.
I was asked the following questions:
- Can you tell me about yourself?
- Why do you want to work for us?
- What is your favourite project you’ve worked on and why?
- Tell me about a time when a project didn’t go as planned. How did you fix it?
- What are some websites and apps that have great design?
- What is your design process?
- How do you discover the needs of your users?
- Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
I was quite pleased with how well I was able to answer a number of the questions as at this stage I had not completed any interview prep. Questions that I struggled with were, why do you want to work for us?, what are some websites and apps that have great design? and where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Why do you want to work for us?
As I did not have a specific company in mind when answering this question I really fumbled through my response. I referred to the companies focus on design excellence and inclusivity. However, when I am were preparing for interviews I will of course to the required research on the company to have specific areas to discuss here that are not so general.
What are some websites and apps that have great design?
While I was able to point to a few websites that I liked I really couldn’t take about their user-centred approach or what it was specifically that made their design so effective. This is an area that I will definitely need to spend more time on to make sure I have an answer in my head for this question.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I fumbled through this question and talked about combining psychology with UX design however I was very unsure of myself. I think when I answer this question I am going to be very honest and the honest answer is I don’t know right now. I think that given I am only applying for a placement it is fair enough that I do not know the specifics of where I want to be in 5 years. However, I can talk about the fact that once I have found my strength through my placement I want to develop in that area and progress in my career. What I do know is that I want to be in UX design therefore I can focus on my passion for the user in this question also.
I was then marked by my interviewer and the marks were quite generous in my opinion. I’m not sure if an actual interviewer would have been so generous. However, the marks do reflect the areas that were covered in the questions that I struggled with (here I received 4s and a 3) The area that I was not consciously aware of when answering the questions that was highlighted was my strengths. This is an area that I will need to take some time to consider and have some points in my mind to refer to throughout the interview.
When interviewing my teammate I realised how hard it can be to assess candidates as the interview questions do not always directly relate to the rating systems. Therefore if you answer a question without considering how you are presenting your strengths or your processor example then the Interviewer is going to struggle to rate you highly in these areas. Out of the questions I was asking I know I would have struggled with the following:
- Can you name any design leaders that you follow?
- What would you say is the next big trend in UX design?
These are two areas I will definitely have to spend some time researching and getting a better understanding of.
This weeks lecture and design task were really helpful in providing me a solid foundation on how to prepare and answer questions in an interview setting. I will now have to spend some time researching the industry in general as well as the companies I apply for, trends in UX and different approaches to completing design tasks.