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Tech insights: How to Avoid “Fake“ UX-Opportunities: Spotting Interview Red-Flags
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How to Avoid “Fake“ UX-Opportunities: Spotting Interview Red-Flags

26 July 2018, by Brendin du Plessis

In order to hone a powerful skill set, UX designers need opportunities to help build human-centered products. However, many still find themselves in roles that heavily focus on user interface improvements - a related, but very different set of skills. In order to help clarify the distinction in your next UX-role interview, here are the common things to watch for.

I am a UX designer by trade - or so I thought. Then I discovered the UX & Web Design Master Course by Joe Natoli. He opened up a complete new world to me: I quickly realised that what I thought was UX clearly wasn’t.

I wanted to match digital technologies to the needs, behaviours and motivations of people in real world situations. Instead, I found myself doing UI design, the visual part of things, without context or research to back my work.

If you’re planning on landing your next UX role, you might be wondering: “How can I be certain that I’ll be hired for an actual UX opportunity?” While there might not be a perfect recipe, here are some common red flags to look out for in any UX designer interview.


Red Flags To Watch Out For In Interviews

Some companies genuinely don’t know the difference between UX and UI

Within the first five minutes of any job interview, you will be able to identify if the company is looking for a UX designer or a UI designer. As soon as you possibly can, try and get on the same page of what UX actually is. Don’t be afraid to ask the hiring managers what they understand UX to be and how they intend to utilize UX to improve the company. You’d be surprised at how quickly the hiring managers will change their terminology from UX to UI!

Red flags: No talk of user research, testing or metrics? That probably means the company is looking for a UI designer without even knowing it.

Lack of success metrics

Speaking of which: Every UX designer knows that metrics make the world go round! Companies that are serious about UX will always want to see the impact of UX within the product. This could be anything from

  • improved product usage metrics,
  • NPS scores,
  • time-to-completion metrics or
  • increased conversion.

These are numbers that indicate how you either saved or made money for the company. A data driven approach is crucial for UX to be effective. Don’t be afraid to jump into metrics - ask the hiring manager why they don’t track the platform or how will you be utilized to improve the platform if there’s no “eyes” on it.

Red flags: Companies that ask more about your coding, designing and efficiency without suggestions on how they expect measurable platform impact are most likely not looking for a UX designer.

Photoshop as a product design tool for web-based companies

If a company clings to Photoshop, chances are they might not have made the mental distinction between UI and UX. That’s why it’s super important to double-check when a job description mentions Photoshop as a main supporting software!

Red flags: Obviously some companies simply aren’t sure about the correct tooling and/or are very open to adopting new tools and processes. However, make sure to inquire directly when a UX job description doesn’t mention Sketch, Figma, InVision Studio or Adobe XD.

Out-sourcing business impact

Some companies might envision you only doing mockups and designs while they take care of their validity. As a UX designer, you’d obviously be in the wrong place here. Again: any good UX opportunity will require you to measure the success or failure of your work as well as the broader company impact.

Red flag: If the impact of your efforts is not measured (not even through qualitative customer feedback), UX is not at work!

Getting a new job is much like jumping into a new relationship or better explained by Forest Gump: “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you gonna get.”

My hope is that the above red flags will help you get a quick grasp of where a company is at and significantly lower your odds of landing a “fake” UX-gig.

If every in doubt, join this community UX Mastery and fire away with questions. You’ll get great feedback!

In the meantime, happy hunting…


Brendin is a UX Designer, Product Designer & Startup Enthusiast - Fueled by great products, big dreams and new possibilities. On a quest to restore the true meaning of UX. He loves blogging, being creative, watching Rafa, backing CR7 and is emotionally passionate about Gibson & Apple.


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