Designing a Better UX Hiring Process

I've been on both sides of the interviewing table for User Experience positions. As an interviewer, I try to provide the candidate with opportunities to shine. I want to find a great person for a position, and so this is how I've done it:

  1. Have Interview Objectives: Hopefully, you're going to be interviewing multiple people, so you need to know what you're trying to learn from each interview, such as: how does this person handle conflict? How does this person deal with being thrown into the deep end of a project? How does this person feel about collaboration? These are the things you'll use to compare candidates, and find the one that is right for your team.
  2. Be a Decent Human: You're not there to prove how smart you are, pal -- you're the one with the job, so pack up your insecurities and save them for your journal. Even if you're secretly intimidated by the candidate, get over it, and think of it as an opportunity to learn something new. Be polite, be professional, be a decent human. 
  3. Know Their Work History: You should have read their CV, looked at them on LinkedIn, and any other ancillary work-related information out there. Familiarize yourself with the types of companies they've worked at (agencies, consulting firms, etc.), and ask questions about how they found each place different for working in UX. 
  4. Don't Read Their Social Media: You don't care. And even if you do care, YOU DON'T CARE. If a candidate has provided you with their Twitter or FB accounts, ignore them. Let people have a space for their non-work life. And if they haven't, for heaven's sake, don't go look them up. Let people be people. Give them space. The one exception to this is if they have a blog, or posts on Medium, related to UX go read them. Are they good writers? You want clear communicators, always.
  5. Let Them Come Prepared: You should give them an assignment before the interview, such as: tell us about a project you're proudest of, and walk us through any relevant documents or deliverables. Yes, I said you can ask them about deliverables -- but wireframes aren't the point of this portion of the interview, it's letting the candidate tell you a story, and paying attention to what you learn from how the candidate tells you the story. You want to know: what has been their experience being onboarded into a project? What was the entrenched process of the project (because no one gets to pick their own process)? Did they get to talk to the client? 
  6. Allow Them to Be Different Than You: I'm an introvert, so I'm predisposed to recognize that most everyone is more talkative than I am. But interviews can freak out the most gregarious extrovert, and even confident people can have a brain freeze. It's okay -- people have a lot of stuff going on, and if you expect someone to shine 150% the first time you meet them, you're in for wild disappointment. Again, give your candidates every opportunity to shine and be prepared: give them topics and ask them to come with 2-3 questions about the topics of their choosing, for you. If someone was flustered, but you think they are a great candidate, ask to meet with them again. 
  7. Hire People Not Keywords: Don't reject someone because they don't use XYZ Software. You don't care. They can learn how to use it. 
  8. Ask What They Want to Learn Next: This is always interesting -- and it needs to be wide open, not limited to UX. What do they want to learn, and how do they plan to learn it. Someone who is constantly pursuing new knowledge is an absolute diamond. 

By putting time and effort into designing a better UX hiring format, you will end up with better candidates, and better employees.