Hiring Interviews Are Terrible: Smart UX Teams Structure Them

Summary: Asking job applicants unstructured interview questions is ineffective. Instead, UX teams should standardize their questions and evaluation criteria to identify qualified people and reduce unfair bias. For job seekers, learn to recognize smart UX teams by how they interview you.

Does anyone like the hiring interview? For job applicants, it’s a stressful experience . You meticulously prepare your resume and portfolio materials, arrange your schedule to accommodate interviews, are peppered with random questions or whiteboarding-design challenges, and face the collective judgment of strangers. And when you disappointingly don’t receive a job offer? You are left wondering what you could have done differently. Was it your portfolio? Your answers to their questions? Or perhaps your identity was unconsciously held against you?

For UX team leaders, it’s also a stressful experience . You must justify opening the position to your boss, evaluate a small mountain of applications to find promising candidates, schedule and interview multiple candidates, negotiate a job offer, and hope they accept — all while work is piling up. And when that newly hired team member disappointingly underperforms or quits in 18 months? You’re also left wondering what you could have done differently. Was your intuition off that day? Was it the pressure to fill the role quickly? Or perhaps your judgment was clouded by their work experience at recognizable companies or by their beautiful portfolio?

Hiring interviews are critical for teams because the consequences of success and failure are substantial. Identifying a qualified candidate is like striking gold: research by Ernest O’Boyle Jr. and Herman Aguinis suggests that job performance follows a Pareto or power-law distribution , with high-performing employees being prodigiously more productive than their average peers. On the other hand, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that a bad hire can cost 30% of the role’s first-year earnings. For example, a UX Designer role at $100,000 per year could result in $130,000 in direct costs (including salary and severance).

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