Back in July 2013, I posted an extensive list of design/user experience research job interview questions I had been asked during interviews for junior-level design/UX research positions. My original intent was to share these questions with people who were starting job searches in design/UX research and who may not be as familiar with interviewing for this kind of role.
Since the original post is the most popular post I’ve ever done at Anthropologizing according to my site analytics, and given that I just finished up another job search, I figured it was time to revisit and update the list.
The following list includes the questions from the original post, combined with the questions I encountered in my most recent slate of interviews. Naturally, a lot of the same questions came up again this time around, but I also had quite a few that were new or different. I think one reason for this may be because I have more experience under my belt and am interviewing for mid- to upper-mid/lead roles. As such, people have been more concerned with my experience with things like leading and scoping projects, working with/influencing stakeholders, and communicating research results. I also took a somewhat different approach to interviewing altogether by preparing a project portfolio to share during interviews, and upping the game on how I talk about my background, training and skills, which likely had an affect on the types of questions I was asked.
The first time I posted this list, I broke up the questions into categories/types. For the new list, I’ve revised the categories a bit, which is a natural result of the change in my approach to interviewing, as well as how I conceptualize the purpose of interviewing. I also removed a couple of questions that weren’t all that useful.
The questions are from a total of approximately 10 in-person and phone interviews with product companies (healthcare, system administration, transportation, athletics and internet technology), as well as consulting agencies/firms specializing in user experience design, brand strategy, market research, ethnographic research, and program evaluation research.
Design/UX Research Job Interview Questions
Training and skills
- How does your background in anthropology apply to design/UX research?
- How did you go from anthropology to user experience?
- What attracts you to research?
- What is your experience with qualitative research methods? (ethnography, focus groups/group discussions, one-on-one interviewing, contextual inquiry, observational research, etc.)
- Since your experience is primarily in qualitative methods, how do you feel about quantitative research?
- What skill do you possess that you think you do better than 99.9% of the entire population?
- What do you excel at (your superpower) and what can you improve on (your kryptonite)?
Hands-on project experience
- Tell us about some of the most recent projects you worked on. (Note: this may come in the form of a portfolio review/presentation.)
- How is what you did at your last job applicable to this one?
- If you could go back, are there any projects you would have done differently?
- Tell me about a fascinating project where you discovered something unexpected.
- Do you have any examples of times when you had to jump in and learn about something that was unfamiliar to you?
- Do you have any experience with e-commerce?
- Do you have experience with mobile software or hardware?
The research process (planning, research design, methods/approaches, theory, analysis)
- What is your research process?
- How do you choose which method(s) you’re going to use for particular projects?
- Which methods and approaches do you think are the most useful or effective?
- What is the value of doing contextual research over facility-based research (e.g., focus groups, interviews)?
- How do you incorporate theory into your research?
- What are your favorite social science theories?
- How do you approach qualitative data analysis?
- What tools do you typically use for analysis? (e.g., affinity mapping, coding, Excel, etc.)
- How do you analyze ethnographic data?
- Have you used any qualitative data analysis software?
- At what point in the design process should user experience come into play?
- Talk about a time when you had to change your plan or approach.
- Our company hires heavily from our own user base. How would you balance the perspectives of internal users versus external users?
- What is your experience working in Agile environments?
- Have you ever used a Lean approach in your research?
Insights and deliverables
- How do you visualize data?
- How do you visualize results for designers and developers?
- Give me an example of a project you worked on for which you had to translate research data into insights.
- Do you have experience with videography or video deliverables?
- How would you sell the value of User Experience research to a VP of Product versus a VP of engineering?
Working with others
- How do you work with others?
- What best practices do you use when working with engineers?
- How do you approach working with designers?
- How do you approach working with developers?
- How have you provided guidance to your clients in the scoping of projects?
- How do you deal with stakeholders (e.g., marketers) with really strong perspectives?
- What do you do when a stakeholder disagrees with the results of your research?
- What is your experience working with people who are unfamiliar with User-Centered Design?
Job roles & responsibilities
- Have you played more of a lead or support role on projects?
- What phases of research were you most often involved with?
- Have you worked with recruiters?
- What is your experience with project management?
- What is your experience with project scoping?
- Have you managed external research vendors?
General job stuff
- Are you interested in contract or full-time work?
- Are you open to a contract-to-hire position?
- Are you open to travel?
- What’s your hourly rate? (freelance or contract)
- How do you feel about working remotely?
- What do you know about our company and our products?
- Why do you want to work here?
- What kind of work do you really want to do?
- Why did you go into anthropology?
- Why did you leave your last position?
- What are you looking for long term?
- What is your ideal role?
- What does your future look like? Where do you want to be professionally?
- How do you see this position and our company fitting into your long-term plans?
- What are you looking for when it comes to a workplace?
- How do you feel about working for a small agency versus a large corporation?
Other: Questions from the personal to the odd, the creative to the curve ball
- We do a lot of research on food. What kind of restaurants do you like to eat at?
- How does design fit into your life both personally and professionally?
- When it comes to working on projects with coworkers and talking to clients, how would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, if 1 is introverted and 10 is extroverted?
- Did you open any of the reports on our website?
- Do you have any problems or ethical reservations doing certain types of projects or working for clients in certain industries?
- Who paid for your education?
- When you were in college, were you the kind of person who worked on papers right before they were due, or did you plan ahead?
- How would your friends describe you?
- What are your thoughts on taking risks?
- Are you an “interrupter?”
- Are you more of a “process” person, a “product” person, or both?
- It says “advocate” on your resume. How are you an advocate?
Readers: What questions have you been asked in interviews for design/UX research positions that are not listed here? I’m especially interested in questions about processes and roles, the unexpected questions that made you think on your feet, and the ones you think every interviewee should be prepared to answer. Feel free to share your examples in the comments below.