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How Does a Hiring Manager Identify the Best UX Professional?

Marcin Treder
By Marcin Treder on 7th October, 2013 Updated on 1st February, 2017

Who gets the job in UX? The qualities of the best UX Designers.

In my pre-UXPin life I had the privilege of being a UX Manager of a team consisting of absolutely amazing designers. I personally hired some of them and well…can’t say that the process of hiring UX professionals is an easy one. Finding people who are creative and analytical at the same time is always a challenge. What’s more – there’s plenty of job opportunities for UX professionals. A quick LinkedIn search shows nearly 19k open positions. That’s certainly something.

I thought it might be useful for all of you to know what UX Managers and HR people are looking for in UX Professionals. Below you’ll find my list of the qualities I’m looking for in UX Professionals and, for comparison, the list published on Quora by Jonathan Baker-Bates – experience UX Designer from London.

As a hiring manager I never cared much about testing one’s ability to wireframe or prototype. After all anybody can be taught to produce a decent wireframe. The things that I was obsessed about are on the verge of competitions and personality traits. I believe (and I’ve seen it happen many times) that people who fit the following description have greater potentials of becoming amazing designers.

5 essential traits of a great designer:

  1. Curiosity – User Experience Design is deeply human-centric. Designers aren’t painters, but rather the psychologists of their target groups. They key to designers success is to curiously gather knowledge about the behavior of the users and act upon it.
  2. Acute Analytical Mind – User Experience Design has to be based on knowledge about the users behavior. Gathering this knowledge requires a will to collect data and an ability to properly understand it..
  3. Brainstorming Creativity – I like to work with designers who are able to quickly generate sketchy ideas for solution of users problems. The ability to creatively generate fresh and innovative solutions is indispensable.
  4. Empathy – Great designers care. They constantly think about the users and their problems as well as the needs of their teammates. It will sound weird, but… being human is part of the job.
  5. Clarity of Expression – Self expression is an important part of designers every day job. Explaining the design to others, talking to users, expressing design ideas as a wireframe or prototype – the success of all these tasks depends on the designer’s ability to clearly express his/her thoughts.

In case it seemed like the candidate fulfilled these five criteria did I have a chat about his or hers knowledge in psychology, human computer interaction, information architecture etc.

So that’s my approach. To give you a broader view of things – I’ve found the following list of traits of UX Professional formed on Quora by Jonathan Baker-Bates:

  • Good articulation and clarity of thought. The practice of UX is often about whether you can explain things to people, and whether your thinking is clear. Unlike good visual design, good UX design is not self-evident, so anyone doing UX needs to be able to explain themselves and their designs very well.
  • Self abdication and appeal to higher authority. In general (and there are notable exceptions) UX design is about other people. It is not, and cannot be about individual opinion. Good practitioners almost never talk in the first person about designs. Instead, they talk in terms of research findings, personas and scenarios.
  • Empathy and accommodation. Good candidates think a lot about everything. They think about people, their lives, their needs and their environments. That goes for both the people they are designing for, as well as those they design with. They must be social, bright, and easy to get on with.
  • Knowledge. UX research, UX thinking, techniques and methods are being discussed all the time by those in the industry. Good candidates monitor that, but question things constantly. They never take things at face value.”

It seems like we have similar approaches, although I wouldn’t say that self abdication helps the designer in his pursuit to become great. Honestly, I rather like to work with independent, strong, personalities who truly question everything and only can be persuaded by data.

I Hope that will help you with your job interviews.

Good luck!

Marcin Treder

by Marcin Treder

Marcin Treder is the CEO and co-founder of UXPin, a product design platform. Since co-founding UXPin in 2010, he has helped build and lead product teams in the Poland and Silicon Valley offices. Previously, he worked on projects for two companies that IPOed and managed the design team for one of the biggest eCommerce companies in Eastern Europe. He holds an M.A. in Cognitive Psychology. Marcin has been given numerous awards, including MIT 30 under 35 for his accomplishments in design and business.

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