UX Development · User Experience Design

How do I interview an UX designer?

Ravi Kiran Salestech Founder, Discovery Stage Investor, Business Model Mentor, #JTBD Fan, Ex Advg CEO @ravitwo

February 27th, 2019

I am a non tech founder of a B2B tech company. How do I interview to identify a really smart and effective UX designer. Many candidates show me examples of work they have done, but spend more time on the visual elements. They claim that the real UX work is not visible. How do I differentiate one from another then?

Leon Rubinstein Co-Founder @ Mobiiuz - products that improve people's life

March 7th, 2019

Hi Ravi,

I'm an ex-software developer (like over 20 years back...), turned to a business developer & entrepreneur (currently a cofounder of a startup), turned to UX designer (specializing in business design & Voice UX).

I've used the User Experience approach in business development for over 15 years now with great results.

What I've learned is that the most important part of the UX is the problem finding, not the solutions (for which you have plenty of smart developers, UI libraries & standards etc.)

I'm not saying that finding a smart solution is easy, I'm just saying that there're enough smart people out there who know how to solve problems, and you probably already know some of these people.

So what you need to look for is a person who'll be able to find problems for you. And I mean problems as experienced by your users, not the opinion of some "UX expert". We all have opinions, but none of us are "the paying users".

Now that I've spelled this out, back to your question.

What you look for is the person who'll be able to explain to you the HOW of:

  • looking for problems,
  • proving that these are the problems for your users,
  • understanding how your users deal with these problems today,
  • what such problems incur for your users (costs, time, risk etc.)
  • which of those problems are big, and which can be lived with,
  • finding solutions for these problems (yes you do need those after all),
  • testing, with real users, whether the proposed solutions improve the life of your users,
  • keeping doing this list all over again, and again, and again - all with limited resources (no miracles here...)

So, as you see, the important qualities are those related to humility, curiosity, perceverence and ability to manage the process, while understanding your business imperatives.

Avoid "experts" who seem to know all the solutions or show you beautiful graphics.

UX is NOT UI. UX is the understanding why your users do what they do.

Last suggestion, that may surprise you - I'd recommend that you take a UX course yourself. Maybe you'll be able to do some stuff on your own, maybe it'll help you to better recruit your future UX team. But most immportantly, I believe it's a job of any founder to represent the interests of your users to the rest of your company. And what a better way to do so than by being an User Experience pro?

Good luck & enjoy!

Dennis Maij CoFounder

Last updated on February 28th, 2019

Ask them whether they think they know how users behave? :-)


The best ones will tell you they don't know. They can have ideas and predictions. But it is often the unexpected tests with UX that will have result.


Directer at CoolBlue tells about it in this nice documentary "What makes us click" : https://www.vpro.nl/programmas/tegenlicht/kijk/afleveringen/2016-2017/what-makes-you-click.html

Ravi Kiran Salestech Founder, Discovery Stage Investor, Business Model Mentor, #JTBD Fan, Ex Advg CEO @ravitwo

March 8th, 2019

So the funny thing on Cofounderslab is I can read the answers given to my question by people, but I cant reply on their comment? Strange.

Nishith Gupta Co-Founder/CEO, uxhack.co - a community based platform for companies to improve UX

March 11th, 2019

Hey Ravi, I run a community platform for companies where we help them both in improving UX as well as in hiring a right UX Designer/Product Manager.


Basis my experience:

- It's always good to assess a potential UX candidate through their thinking of your current product

- Test them on a real problem which they will encounter on daily basis with your product. Look the kind of questions they ask, assumptions they make and ultimately the solutions they bring to the table.


Having said, we have also seen, that candidates really do not put their effort on 2nd if it's not a paid or rewarded exercise since they believe company is trying to get free work done in garb of interview. Hence, we always recommend our clients to go for challenge based hiring i.e you reward top 3 solutions (in cash/kind + offer interview call) upfront to get better and quality responses.


An approach of challenge based hiring in sort of win-win outcome for both company and the candidate.


Happy to help further if needed

Christopher Lee UX Design & Product Management

February 27th, 2019

Hi Ravi - Up until recently I was a design lead for a series A B2C startup. Interviewed > 200+ designers, hired and trained a team of 5.


As with anything to do with recruiting, it's an incredibly nuanced process that can't be distilled to a paragraph of text. However, that being said, here are a few things to keep in mind.


Strong designers are smart, humble, resourceful, and curious.


Smart - I use critical thinking questions, such as "how would you improve your favorite product" to see if they can understand the human problems behind the products they're designing. I also run them through design exercises where I give them a problem and watch as they solve it. I look for them to challenge my assumptions, and to be deliberate and consciously competent with every design suggestion they make.


Curious - they should be obsessed with people. Their behaviours, their oddities, their tendencies, etc. If they take things at face value, e.g. if you're doing a portfolio exercise and the response is roughly "someone told me to do this and therefore I did it" that's a huge red flag.


Resourceful - I test for drive. I want people who are hungry to learn and won't stop when there's a wall in front of them. Design is not an easy profession, you are solving problems in ways that others may not have before. I like to dig into past behaviour here, past side jobs, side projects, reasons why they took/left a job, etc.


Humble - should be straightforward.


Good luck!

Alison Childs Co-Founder/CEO of RSVP

February 27th, 2019

Get them to show you their process. Even just sketches, wireframes, notes, etc. Also have them show you end products. If the products are seamless and delightful to use then you know you have a qualified candidate. A solid UX designer should be able to verbalize how someone gets from A to B and should be able to provide examples whether large-scale or small. (My credentials: 18 yrs as UX lead.)

Edward de Jong Software designer and developer, programming language designer

March 15th, 2019

People are giving you terrible advice. A UX designer is like a chef. They are making a product that is supposed to be the equivalent of tasty and delicious. Do you care how they describe it? Are you interviewing a TV personality? No, this is a creative task of the utmost importance to your product's success. You wouldn't look at a picture of a cooked meal to judge a chef, nor should you do anything less than taste the UX of a designer. Who cares what they say or how they do the work? Its like hiring a sculptor - what does their previous work look like? And since you are not "the market", you should test their work against a diverse group of users, from dumb-ass to smartypants, from young whippersnappers to old geezers with poor vision. If their UX is acceptable to your test group, you have a winner. Who gives a damn if they leave a slime trail, have no bedside manner, or look weird as hell. What you care about is what they create. Does anyone care about Henry Dreyfuss looked like? Or how he spoke? he was the greatest industrial designer in the history of the world, and i suggest you read his "Designing for People" because he is THE MAIN MAN!.