What does a UX hiring manager look for? UX Question #55

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Salome from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, asks: What does a UX hiring manager look for?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Salome. This is UX Question number 55 and I am Ben Judy.

What does a UX hiring manager look for? Well, I have been a hiring manager in several organizations. I’ve reviewed and interviewed many candidates over the years, looking at resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn profiles, and UX portfolios.

The obvious and most important thing I look for is skills match. I need to see evidence of the technical, creative, and problem solving skills listed in the job description. You can go back to episodes 35 and 40 where I talk about skills.

You might wonder, what about years of experience? A mature UX practice will have a leveling framework so a UX designer level 1 might be someone with 2 to 4 years of experience (see episode 12), while a Principal designer might be someone with 10 years or more.

But what you did over those years really matters. Ten years designing content websites doesn’t mean you’re any good at designing data intensive enterprise applications. One designer’s year of experience is not the same as another’s.

Beyond that, I look for someone I can trust to be a good team member and collaborator. Not a diva or a Lone Ranger type, or someone who is too easily offended—see episode 31 for more on that.

I look for someone who will respond to coaching and take action in response to feedback. Managers need team members who understand that following is a skill, just as leading is a skill.

I look for culture fit. Some companies will ask candidates to take a personality test to ensure they hire a diverse mix of personalities.

Furthermore, I might look at a number of different diversity factors. I talk about this in UX Questions Special number 1, go listen to that for more on diversity and UX design.

You may have been passed over for a job and felt like the hiring manager just couldn’t see what you brought to the table. It’s possible you were overlooked, but you should also realize many factors go into a hiring decision: hard and soft skills, being a good team member, culture fit, bringing something unique to increase the diversity of the team. Some of those things are about you; some are about the team.

A UX manager isn’t a factory foreman running an assembly line. We’re more like movie casting director trying to assemble the right ensemble cast. We’re looking for the obvious factors that matter, but we’re also trying to shape a team.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: How can I become a UX researcher?

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