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Mastering the UX Interview: Techniques to Land Your Next Job in User Experience

by Oct 17, 2017User Experience / UX, UX Careers0 comments

This article was originally posted on Medium.

I’ve lost count of the number of UX interviews I have sat through over the past eight or nine months. The number has to be close to a hundred or more. 2017 has been a huge hiring year for my group here at Walgreen’s as we continue to fill open UX roles. And I’ve conducted hundreds of additional interviews over the span of my career. In the process, I have developed a basic set of criteria with which to evaluate candidates. This article is designed to give you a peek into the mind of a hiring manager as well as some helpful tips in preparing for a UX interview.

Before we delve into the essential phases of the interview and the psychology behind each phase, I want to stress one important point you should keep in mind at all times. You are a UX professional. Approach the interview as a UX professional. That is, approach the interview from a UX perspective where the hiring manager and your interviewers are seen as “users.”

We spend a good deal of our time in this profession attempting to understand our users, what their needs are and how we can meet those needs — often before they even knew they had them. Why shouldn’t you be doing the same thing during the interview process? Your job is to figure out what the hiring manager needs and show them you have the means to fill that need.

So what is it that a hiring manager needs in any given position? Every organization is different and the needs for a given position in one organization might be slightly different than the needs in another organization. But generally speaking, a hiring manager is looking for three things:

Can you do the job? This is about skills. Essentially, do you have the skills and/or experience to complete the given duties of a position? This will most likely be answered during the resume review or phone screening and then confirmed or validated in the in-person interview. But this isn’t just about being able to use Axure or power through a design project using solid principles. Maturity can also be a factor depending on the type of role you are seeking and how much autonomy there is in the role. Smaller teams or roles with little support will most likely seek candidates who exhibit a good amount of maturity and a breadth of skills.

Will you do the job? This is about motivation. Do you have enthusiasm for the work? Do you show interest in performing the tasks associated with the position? Or are you an apathetic sloth I will have to micromanage on every project or feature? This is generally measured in how enthusiastic you are during the interview and how many questions you ask about the position (a means of showing interest).

Are you going to cause problems or be a disruption to the existing team culture? There is a lot to unpack in this last question. The first concern a hiring manager has is their team culture and how you will fit in. It doesn’t make any difference if you can do the job, will do the job but are a complete pain in the ass to work with. It’s also not worth hiring a great designer if they are a prima donna who will cause strife within the workplace. And last, are your the type of person who will make more work for me or will damage my reputation? That is, if you turn out to be a shit-bird, my judgement will now be questioned as a hiring manager. No manager wants this.

There will be more specific needs in a position than the above three points. However, those are the basic points you will need to address to obtain any position. Answer those questions and you will, at the very least, have your foot partially in the door. But while you keep those questions or needs in mind, you should be searching for other needs. Is the team short-handed? Is this is a new position because there is a new need on the team? Are you replacing a vacant spot and why is the spot vacant?

In short, ask questions and try to get inside the head of the hiring manager to determine what their needs are. Then design your strategy for the interview based on the answers you obtain.

One other essential item to keep in mind: You are interviewing the employer just as much as they are interviewing you. Taking the wrong position or a position that is not a good fit can result in a major setback for your career. With that said, you should walk into an interview with the perspective of a person shopping. You are trying to determine if this is a good fit. To do this, you will have to have a two-way dialogue during the interview process where you are also allowed to explore, ask questions and develop a sense of the position and organization. If you don’t feel you have a two-way dialogue and the interview ends before you have a chance to ask questions, ensure you leave the door open by asking if it is okay to follow-up via email or through your recruiter.

Now, let’s move to the basic phases of the interview process — resume review, phone screen and the in-person interview.

The Resume Review

We receive a ton of resumes for any given position at Walgreen’s and other places I have worked. We usually work with recruiters and this is where our resumes come from. The reason I bring this up is because you need to understand how companies receive your resume. If you apply via Career Builder or Simply Hired, the job you apply to has most likely been posted by either the company’s HR department or it has been posted by a recruiting company (a.k.a headhunters). It’s rare for me, in any organization, to receive a resume through my own HR department. So while this isn’t true 100% of the time, you probably want to ensure your resume goes through a recruiting company or a company that works to place applicants in your profession. They often have a direct relationship with the employer and will ensure your resume actually finds its way to the inbox of a hiring manager.

This means your resume is being screened twice prior to you being contacted for a phone screen — once by the recruiter (who may or may not understand the requirements for the position) and once by the hiring manager (who most certainly understands the requirements for the position). The recruiter’s motivation is monetary compensation if they place you in an open position. They essentially receive a commission. My motivation during this phase is to weed out applicants who clearly won’t fit and to preserve my time for those whom I think may be a good fit.

If your resume makes it to a hiring manager’s inbox, their job is to screen you in or out. If they have a stack of resumes, this process can become burdensome for them and they will use a number of methods to review you. While I can’t comment on what all hiring UX managers will look at, I can give you an idea of my own and my team’s current process.

The average resume (or applicant) for us, involves 30 minutes of review at a bare minimum. Every once in awhile, I receive a resume that is a clear fit — making this process quicker. However, most of time and for most applicants, I conduct the exact same process.

I review your experience in relation to the position to ensure their is a match in terms of the relevance of your experience. Do you have 15 years of experience while the position is at a junior level? Or do you have a few years of experience while the position requires five or more years? What is your educational background? Where have you worked and what exactly did you do in those positions? What UX tools do you use? This is what I refer to as a first pass where I essentially skim your resume. I’m looking for evidence — enough evidence to place your resume in one of three piles — reject, accept or not sure. Our team often seeks a second opinion on resumes and we often review resumes as a panel — meaning your resume is reviewed multiple times.

If you make it past this phase, I conduct a search for you via the web. If you are in UX and I can’t find you on the web, you lose a point. If I can find you on the web, but you have a terrible portfolio or I find videos of you doing beer bongs after the Cubs game last Friday, I’m probably going to pass. It’s actually better for you to not have a presence on the web than to have a negative presence.

A few tips to help you get your resume to the top of the stack:

A nicely formatted resume or an original resume will often get you a phone interview (assuming you are even remotely a fit for the job). I have seen some visually appealing resumes over the years and they never fail to catch my eye or develop that good first impression. The resume is your first impression. I haven’t met you yet, but do begin to develop impressions of who you are at this phase. Recruiters often reformat or strip your resume down to a bare version so they put their logo on it. They will often ask for a Word version of your resume so they can brand it. Try to work with the recruiter and explain how important it is to preserve your resume format. I can assure you, I do not care if the resume is a PDF or Word doc and I really don’t care if the recruiting company logo is in the top right corner. I do care to see a nicely formatted and/or designed resume.

Avoid the 8-page resume. This might seem like very basic advice. But I have noticed a trend in the past few years where seasoned professionals think it is okay to list every position they have ever held along with an extensive (and usually boring) bulleted list of “accomplishments” in that position. Two pages, maximum. Period. You won’t impress me with four or five pages and it only suggests you aren’t very good at summarizing your career or writing a resume that is readable. Nobody reads five pages worth of bullet points. And don’t shrink the font to 10-point or use Arial Narrow font. I know that trick.

If you have a presence online, make sure it is appropriate for the workplace. I made this point briefly above. A picture of you with a bong on your last trip to Denver, doesn’t make a good first impression. Scan your social media accounts, make them private or do whatever you have to do to ensure you appear as a professional. This is common sense. If you have a portfolio online, make sure it doesn’t look like it is from the last century. You are better off not having an online portfolio than having a badly designed or outdated one.

If you don’t have a presence online, you should ensure you have a portfolio of samples the hiring manager can review. We are hiring you for a design position. We want to see your design samples. It’s that simple.

Ultimately, in the resume review phase you want eliminate any chance of being eliminated from the potential job pool. Your objective is to get the hiring manager on the phone. This is probably the hardest phase and where the competition is at its peak. I reject more resumes than I accept. And this is in line with my experience as an applicant. For every ten positions I apply to, I might get one phone call.

The Phone Screen

Theoretically, this phase of the interview process should be the easiest. The hiring manager has already determined you look good on paper and meet most of the requirements of the position. Otherwise, they would not bother to set up a phone interview. All you have to do at this point is answer some basic questions and not throw any red flags.

Phone screens are just what they sound like — a screening method. A hiring manager is simply feeling you out to see if you are worth 1–3 hours of their time or their team’s time for an in-person interview. But as easy as this phase might seem, I am always amazed at how some people manage to blow it in the phone screen. Here are the most common missteps I see candidates make.

You don’t understand the job you are applying to. This is probably the most common pitfall I see candidates make in the phone screen. We’re interviewing for a UX designer position, things are going well and then the candidate goes on for five minutes about their passion and love of UX research. Or, the candidate spends five minutes talking about how they truly love visual design and see that as their true calling. I’ve even had candidates clearly express they thought they were interviewing for a different position. To be fair, this can sometimes be a problem on the recruiter’s end. Not every recruiter properly explains the position or provides the job description. But sometimes the candidate blows it and this is a common misstep. Know the position you are applying for and stick to the topic of that position.

You show no enthusiasm for the role. This is mostly about motivation. A hiring manager wants to avoid hiring someone who is not interested in the position or isn’t motivated to do the work required to push projects forward. We occasionally get a monotone speaker on the phone or a person who just seems to have a general sense of apathy about their work and the position we are hiring for. Sometimes we just have problems getting a person to talk at all. They give short answers, don’t elaborate on anything and allow for long silences. If you have to fake enthusiasm for the position, you are probably applying to the wrong position. You should genuinely have some interest in the position and let the hiring manager know this. Even though it is a phone interview, you should take the call standing up and dress appropriately. You would be surprised at how doing these two things will change your demeanor on the phone. And if you have any doubt as to how much or how little enthusiasm you are showing, simply state the position sounds exciting and you are interested.

You take the call from a noisy location. Don’t take a phone interview from your car or a busy street. Find a quiet place. I can assure you, the hiring manager (a good hiring manager) will schedule a room to take the call from. They have also spent at least 30 minutes or an hour reviewing your resume. Nothing is more annoying to me than when I have taken the time to prepare for a candidate interview and the person on the other end of the phone couldn’t even take the time to find a quiet place. It gives the impression, you are not prepared. Look, I get it. You probably have another job and are calling in during your lunch hour or something. But, you should treat this like any meeting you would go to during the work day. Schedule a room or find a quiet place so I can hear what you are saying without cars honking in the background etc.

You stumble through your own introduction. Tell me a little about yourself. You knew this question was coming. You had to. But, I get so many people who stumble through this question. This is a basic question and it gives you the chance to really sell yourself or talk yourself up. This is your 2 minute elevator speech. You should knock this one out of the park. Stumbling through the question with a string of incoherent mumbo jumbo gives a bad impression. Keep it short, write it out and rehearse it so you can reel off a quick introduction when this question or a variation of this question comes your way.

You raise red flags (commute time, role details, benefits questions). I recently had a phone interview where the candidate asked about benefits. We didn’t didn’t move forward with him. I have had candidates ask about role details and express aspects of the role they would not want to do. I have had candidates hint that the commute time to our office might be too long or ask a number of questions concerning working from home. Most of the time, these are red flags. I can understand why these details are important to a candidate. But the phone interview is not really the place to bring these things up. Some of these items, such as location and role details, should have been addressed (or considered) before the phone interview. Benefits questions should not be asked until an offer has been extended.

You have no questions for the interviewer. This relates to the above point about showing no enthusiasm. You should have some questions for the interviewer about the position, the organization, etc. If you don’t, it makes it seem as though you are not interested in the position or the organization. This is a large trend in phone interviews and I get a lot of candidates who either don’t have any questions or don’t have good questions. Here are a few basic questions to ask:

  • Why do you work at company X? (Or, what keeps you working at company X?)
  • What are some the initial challenges I will have in this position?
  • What challenges is your organization facing right now and in the near future?
  • What initial projects would I be working on?

You know nothing about the company or the person you are interviewing. This issue requires you to do a little research on the company. I spent time reviewing your resume and portfolio. I expect you to spend some time researching the company. It is quite likely I will ask some question concerning why you want to work here or what you find interesting about the company. It is quite unlikely I will ask you what you know about me. However, you can certainly score some bonus points by commenting on some interesting fact you found about the interviewer assuming you are told ahead of time. If you aren’t told who you are interviewing with, you should ask. My first phone interview with Walgreen’s was with John Yesko. It was a strange coincidence because I had seen John speak at the 2011 IA Summit in Denver. I also found a very interesting video of him speaking about UX at Walgreen’s. I brought these two items up in the interview with him and though it may or may not have impressed him, it certainly showed I spent some time trying to understand the UX challenges at Walgreen’s and the person I was speaking with.

As a side note: You might do well to read John’s article on the topic of UX interviewing tips. He brings up a lot of similar points I discuss herein.

The In-Person Interview

There are a few different types of in-person interview formats you’ll likely face.

There is the straight-forward interview where you will answer a series of questions from a panel or series of panels lasting anywhere from 1–3 hours. In this type of interview, there may be little or no time devoted to a portfolio review and you are likely to speak with several members of the team to include members who are not UX oriented (i.e product managers, developers, business analysts, etc.). These interviews are primarily designed to gauge your character and how well you will fit in with the team culture.

There is the portfolio review interview with associated questions. These interviews will usually devote a significant amount of time walking through your portfolio and asking questions concerning your background, experience and character. This is the most common format I have seen over the years. It’s an interview where the spotlight is placed on you and if you’re prepared, you can control much of the outcome because you will be presenting content you know versus fielding questions you may or may not be prepared for.

Finally, there is the test interview where you are given a test. This format will often be a hybrid and last longer than the other two formats. You will probably spend a small amount of time walking through a project or two you have worked on, a little more time answering questions and 30 minutes or an hour working through a design problem (a test). These interviews are the most difficult to get through as they test you on all levels. They are also stressful in the sense you are working on a design problem under pressure and a time constraint. I am not a proponent of this format because the test doesn’t usually tell me too much considering you are working under pressure. I suspect most interviewers don’t really have an accurate way to measure your performance in such a scenario — nor are they clear on how they should evaluate your performance. If you find yourself in one of these interviews, keep in mind the idea is to evaluate how you think through and approach a problem. The solution you come up with isn’t as important as how you talk through and justify your design decisions. I always see these interviews as a wildcard for the candidate. You won’t know what test you are being given and, thus, have no way to prepare. It can go either way. Additionally, I have seen instances where you will be given the test ahead of time or a take-home version to be completed after the interview. It might seem this situation is more manageable. However, if you are given the test ahead of time, you will likely face a higher level of scrutiny when presenting your solution. If you are given the test after the interview, you will have limited opportunity to defend your design decisions.

Regardless of the format for the in-person interview, when you make it to this phase, there is obviously strong interest in you as a candidate and your odds of receiving an offer significantly increase. However, there is a chance you are not the only person being interviewed for the position. It depends on how the hiring panel conducts the interview process and how many applicants they receive at one time. Some panels interview as a slow stream of resumes trickle in. Other panels wait until they have a pool of candidates and begin narrowing them down. The latter method has some disadvantages in a large job market.

I work in Chicago — a large job market. It is not always a good hiring strategy for us to sit on resumes until we have a large pool and then begin sifting through them. The job market moves fast here and we risk losing good candidates when we don’t don’t quickly review and contact candidates. This being said, it is not abnormal for me to receive five or more resumes in a single week or day. So on any given week, I could be interviewing a single candidate or many. Regardless, even if you are the only candidate being interviewed for the position, it doesn’t necessarily mean you will get an offer. I’ve seen many well-qualified candidates blow the interview at this phase. Here is what to do and what not to do.

Dress the part. It’s hard to believe I even have to write this and I hate that I have to write this. In some ways, it is ridiculous that a business suit should make any difference as to whether or not we hire a candidate. And for the most part, at our organization, it doesn’t make any difference…at least not to me. But, I work in a place where we can wear jeans to work. However, I can’t guarantee everyone in the interview process thinks like I do and I admit to still having some “old school” thinking around this sometimes. I was taught to alway wear a suit. That has changed somewhat and it really does depend on who you are interviewing with…which is the problem — you don’t always know who you will be interviewing with. You could be meeting with a group of traditional business people who have different values. If you are interviewing with a hipster startup, you are probably safe to wear something less formal. In fact, it could hurt you to wear a something formal for an interview like that. You usually won’t go wrong when you dress formally though and this is the safest route to take. There are a number of reasons to dress up for the interview. First, it will change your demeanor. When you dress nice, you instill a sense of confidence in yourself that will change the way you carry yourself. It’s subtle, but effective. Second, there are all manner of underlying psychological cues in an interview and many of them are central to your appearance. Research indicates interviewers often make decisions on candidates within the first minute of an interview. If you have doubts, work with your recruiter to determine appropriate dress (they will often simply tell you to suit up) or just play it safe and dress formal.

It’s a UX position, so bring your laptop or iPad. I’m not sure if some candidates are just pretentious, lazy or assume we will review their portfolio online using our own computers. But, I have had a number of candidates show up to the in-person interview with no computer. This seems as though it needn’t be said, but bring your laptop and be prepared to walk through a project. I don’t care how much experience you have. You should be prepared to present your work. It’s likely I won’t devote a lot of time to this in the interview if you are a seasoned professional, but you should look as though you are prepared.

Bring a copy of your resume. We live in the digital age where almost everything sits on a hard drive or in the cloud. That usually equates to a situation where items are quickly lost or buried in a sea of digital information. Don’t be digital. Give them something they can hold in their hands or something that will sit on their desk and remind them of you. My point above (in the Resume Review section of this article) concerning how your resume is presented to an employer is related to this point. Atypically, I get a resume via email and place it in an Outlook folder for candidates. That serves the purpose of getting it out of my inbox, but also puts it out of my mind. That means you, as a person, end up in digital format mixed up with a bunch of other potential candidates in my candidate folder. That is not what you want.

Go to your nearest office supply store. Purchase some nice stock resume paper — something with a heavier weight. Have your resume printed on this paper. Attach a business card in the upper right corner of each resume (I prefer paper clips to stapling through nice stock paper). Do this with about a dozen or so resumes and then place them in a nice manilla office folder. When you walk into the interview, pull this folder out with your laptop (see above point) and spread some of these resumes out on the table in front of you. Doing this gives an employer something physical or a memento, if you will, to remember you by. But, it also serves a second purpose. I occasionally get busy and have to rush to an interview without printing a hardcopy of a resume. It’s nice when a candidate has a backup for me and it shows you took that extra step in preparation for our time together.

Give a presentation. The best interviews I have participated in are those in which the candidate gives us a presentation. A large part of UX involves presenting your work and selling it to stakeholders. Why shouldn’t you be doing the same thing in the interview? My suggestion is to have a Powerpoint or Keynote presentation ready and walk users through your work. Additionally, you should have an interactive file at the ready in the event your interviewers ask to see prototypes. There are a few things you should do in relation to these files.

The Powerpoint or Keynote file you compile should detail your static designs (wireframes or comps). If you are working primarily in Sketch, Figma or a similar program, this is the perfect format for presenting those designs. You don’t have to detail every nuance in a screen or design, The screens you insert into the file should detail the high points without getting bogged down in the details. Include just enough to help you cover the high points of a design and tell a story with each point. Interviewers are less interested in the details surrounding design decisions than they are the details around how you pushed a design forward. Answer these questions:

  • What were challenges to the project?
  • What was the desired outcome and how did you determine that?
  • Show what you started with (sketches, wireframes, the previous design, etc.) and show the final product.
  • How did it improve the user experience?
  • What was your role?

If you answer those questions for each project, you will have a presentation to wow your interviewers with. You should compile this file once for your job search and ensure it contains enough content to cover interviews with multiple organizations. In other words, make a file that will work for any interview. This involves studying job descriptions to determine what is being asked for. However, you should be able to compile a pretty basic file without much research into job positions.

Put these types of projects in your file:

  • UX research projects
  • Applications you worked on
  • Mobile applications
  • Interactivity (you can embed GIF files and videos in Powerpoint or Keynote)

Your prototype file will obviously be compiled in the tool of your choice. Be aware, some organizations will have specific requirements around the tool for prototyping. You usually can’t go wrong with Axure as it will show you have a technical command of the prototyping process and it is probably the most complex prototyping tool on the market right now (aside from Framer). Many organizations are moving to less complex tools that allow rapid prototyping (like UXPin or InVision). My theory is this: If you can prototype with Axure, you can probably figure out almost any other tool (aside from Framer, which is a completely different animal). Regardless of what you use to prototype, ensure you organize your work for easy access. With Axure, I just use the folder and page structuring system to organize the content and then name the pages according to their function (repeaters, carousel, parallax, login variables, etc.). This allows me to quickly access a given prototyping function if asked during the interview. If you use more than one prototyping tool, you can place examples in each tool and walk through them as needed.

Prepare for the questions you should know will be asked. It’s unlikely you will find yourself confronted with a professional interviewer or someone with a list of complex psychological questions. In all probability, you will be faced with a person or group of people who know a lot about UX and very little about interviewing. They might have gone so far as to write up an interview guide (or list of questions to ask) derived from a quick Google search. With that in mind, there should be some obvious questions you can prepare for.

You know they will ask you to introduce yourself or tell them a little about yourself. See my point above on this. You should have a quick summary memorized and be prepared to reel it off (without making it sound as though you memorized it). Other common questions include:

  • What is your greatest strength? Central theme: What you can bring to the team?
  • What is your greatest weakness? Central theme: Ability to grow and learn.
  • Talk to me about a time when you experienced conflict when working with a team. Central theme: How you handle conflicts.
  • Tell me about a mistake you made in the workplace. Central theme: Ability to grow and learn.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to defend a design decision. Central theme: Can you articulate design decisions with sound principles?
  • Why should I hire you? Central theme: What you can bring to the team?
  • What tools do you use? Central theme: Can you adapt to our tools and workflow?

There are dozens upon dozens of standard interview questions you can find with a quick Google search. Most of them revolve around a few central themes and should be fairly easy to prepare for. Nevertheless, I constantly encounter candidates who cannot provide examples of a mistake they made or a conflict they had to resolve. It’s clear they didn’t prepare for even the simplest of questions. Don’t be that candidate.

Develop a list of common questions. Group them by theme. Find a private place where people won’t see you talking to yourself and rehearse your answers to the questions. I have consistently conducted this activity throughout my career and, as a result, rarely ever encounter an interview question I can’t answer. An interview is a performance — whether you like looking at it that way or not. Treat it as a performance and rehearse for it so you knock the questions you know are coming out of the park.

Ask questions. I am always a bit suspicious if a candidate does not have any questions or struggles to formulate questions about the position, the organization or the team they will be working with. This should be something you thought about before the interview and prepared for. As a candidate, you should be suspicious if you are not offered the opportunity to ask questions. See my point at the beginning of this article and ensure you leave the door open by asking if it is okay to follow-up via email or through your recruiter with any additional questions.

The questions you should be asking when (and if) you have an opportunity depend on what you really want to know about the position. Here are a few pointers:

You want to know about the work: Ask questions concerning the process, projects and the features you will be working on. Here are a few examples:

  • What are initial projects I will be working on and what challenges will I likely face?
  • Can you tell me a little about your creative process on projects?
  • Can you describe the design process here at company X?
  • What are the greatest challenges you face right now in pushing projects forward?

You want to know about the team and culture: Ask questions that are focused on the people, which allows you to indirectly ask and answer this question. These are great questions to ask because I generally find people love to talk about themselves and their work. A few examples:

  • How did you get into UX?
  • What keeps you coming to this job each day?
  • How would you describe the team?
  • What is your management philosophy?
  • What is the most challenging thing about working here for you?

You want to know the details: Ask granular questions, which will usually lead to some more detailed discussions. Examples:

  • What tools do you work with?
  • Talk to me about the team roles and the team breakdown.
  • What does the average day look like for a team member?

Give them something to remember you and help you stand out. I usually turn to humor for this one. But the idea is to give your audience something unexpected to help them remember you. We often ask a question in our interviews — “tell me something interesting about yourself” — just to help us remember candidates. You may well be interviewing against 2–4 other candidates and revealing something interesting about yourself — a unique hobby, character trait or your 15 seconds of fame — is a way to embed yourself in the memory of the interviewing panel. The best type of thing to reveal is something beyond UX. For example, I had a candidate who talked about his father’s restored 1969 Camaro and how he had recently inherited it. This was during the phone interview and when he arrived for the onsite interview, I still remembered him as the guy with the kick-ass Camaro. Of course, if no one asks you to reveal anything interesting about yourself, you’ll have to find a means of working that into your interview. If the interviewers ask you to walk through your portfolio, this is the perfect place to insert something unexpected about yourself. I usually insert a picture of my dog with his paw over my Mac as an intro slide and say something cheesy like: “Luckily, my dog let me borrow his Mac for the interview.” It usually gets a laugh and loosens up the room. If you don’t have a good sense of humor though, stay away from jokes. There is nothing worse than being remembered for a bad joke or the uncomfortable silence that follows.

Cody and his Mac

Cody is a Mac lover too


Ultimately, think about interviews as you would any other design problem. The problem is standing out in a sea of candidates. You have to approach this from a user experience standpoint. At each phase of the interview, you want to try and stand out. Everything from how your resume looks to the cover letter to how you conduct yourself during the interviews gives you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. You want to craft an experience for the people who will read your resume, cover letter or ask you the same question they have asked five other candidates. Give them something different in their experience — something beyond the mind-numbing business speak so common during the candidate review — and it will exponentially increase your chances of moving to the next phase.



It takes a lot of time to prepare for interviews. But ideally, you prepare once and then you merely need to tweak your presentation, resume and cover letters to tailor them for each employer and interview. You will appear as though you spent a great deal of time prepping for the interview (because you did). That makes an impression. I rarely have a prepared and organized candidate I pass up. Put these tips in your interview playbook and you will find you spend a lot less time interviewing and more time contemplating job offers.