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Expert Insight into a UX interview


Julie Kennedy
UX Specialist

Want some great insider UX tips on what should be included in a your portfolio, how to prepare for an interview, and how to keep up-to-date with latest UX trends?

You’re covered.

We asked Julie Kennedy, Head of UX at the Daily Mail Group, to give us her expert insight into hiring UX professionals.

If you are working in UX, or want to be, this is advice that shouldn’t be missed!!


Can you describe the selection format that a UX interview process usually takes?

I always look up potential candidates on LinkedIn to see who's in their network and if we share any. I greatly value personal references during the shortlist phase.

Researching a company and its range of products is a must for applicants before attending any interview. I expect a candidate to be able to discuss the opportunities they can see in developing our products. I need candidates to convince me they’re the right fit for the role and culture in my team, to show they’re passionate about what they do and about joining us.

It’s always great to see examples of self-motivated development outside of an applicant's day job, whether the candidate has set up a redesign to demonstrate their skills, taken online learning in their own time, or spoken at a UX event.

What do you look for in a portfolio?

In all portfolios I look for:

  • Clear layout
  • Project context and results
  • Sketches
  • Mobile and responsive examples
  • Social media involvement
  • Clarity on what the candidate worked on and contributed to the project

For Visual Designers I’ll also expect to see examples of:

  • High-quality, engaging visuals
  • Animation and video

For User Researchers, I think a portfolio is valuable with:

  • Case studies
  • Range of methodologies demonstrated

When interviewing, what technical or personal skills do you look for?

A good grasp of the English language is essential for UX roles. Equally, it’s an advantage to have designers who are fluent in other languages to be able to work with clients, third parties, and other agencies.

Candidates from all UX disciplines need strong communication skills and good stakeholder management skills. These can be developed in junior roles, but I expect them alongside strong design skills in seniors.

What preparation do you recommend for an interview?

  • Research the company/agency, use their products and have feedback ready
  • Research your interviewers on LinkedIn
  • Write notes to refer to and have questions prepared
  • Tell the results and impact from your designs/research
  • Have examples of best/worst projects and be prepared to explain
  • State what you can contribute and also learn from joining this company/agency
  • Remember to be passionate about what you do!

How do you keep up-to-date with UX trends?

Through a variety of media, such as watching design, UX, and branding-related videos on YouTube and Vimeo, reading design and UX blogs, attending UX events, speaking at industry-related events, and following groups and individuals on social media. I also have close links with Brunel University and its HCI (Human Computer Interaction) course; I’d encourage others to get involved with a university.

What are the biggest challenges you face as a UX Manager?

Currently, there are not enough great UX people to meet the demand. Recruiting full-time workers over freelancers is a big challenge with high contract rates. That’s why a temp-to-perm solution is great for introducing a talent into the team.

What changes have you seen in the UX community since you began recruiting?

Businesses today certainly value the importance of design much more than they did 10 years ago, it’s fantastic that ‘design’ is now getting a seat at boardroom level in some organisations. What’s driven this change in the value of design professionals is how people now interact with companies and their products across numerous touch-points and the need for a coherent offline and online experience, often with a website on a tablet being a customers first touch-point. The user experience needs to look coherent across devices and speak to the customer in a consistent tone of voice.

Companies now understand if the user experience is disjointed they’ll lose their customers to competitors. That’s why good user experience designers are so in demand in businesses today.

Thanks to Julie Kennedy for her spot on advice!

Looking for more UX-related career advice? Check out How to Get Started in the UX Field, 5 Tips for Becoming a UX Pro, and all our UX blog posts.

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