Last week, I mentioned that I have a good interview question for hiring an interaction designer, then presented several problems with asking one of those horrible “edgy” design interview questions. Here’s the question:
Please apply your standard design process to design a swimming pool for a resort hotel. Feel free to ask me questions if you need more information.
Of course, there’s nothing special about a swimming pool—aside from being a familiar object that needs to be well designed. Feel free to substitute any other familiar objects that need good design and lead to interesting design discussions.
The answer and scoring
Before checking the answer, please think this through as you would in a real interview situation. Spend at least 5 minutes before peeking.
This question is simple enough, so what’s the big deal? Here’s why I like it:
There’s no trick to it. The question is clearly presented and candidates can get full credit for answering the question as asked. Candidates don’t have to figure out what you are really asking, so the response reflects their design skills, not their interviewing skills.
The response demonstrates the candidate’s design skills in a meaningful way. A strong response is a meaningful indicator of superior design skills, whereas a poor response is a meaningful indicator of the opposite. Candidates reveal exactly where they are on the UX Design Skills Ladder.
There’s more than one good solution. Consequently, each candidate can respond in a unique way. Because there’s no one expected answer, there’s room for brilliance. There’s also enough depth to the problem that prior coaching won’t help much.
Experienced designers have an opportunity to shine. In addition to demonstrating their user centered design skills, advanced candidates can also demonstrate their strategic product design skills.
BS won’t go far. Both you and your candidates know enough about the problem and the target users that BS won’t get them anywhere. Unlike with “edgy” questions where total nonsense might pass as insight, common sense can be your compass.
It’s fun! It’s a fun exercise, so asking it will reflect well upon you and your team.
On November 14, 2013, I presented "Great UX without time, money, or design skills" to the Stanford Igniters in Mountain View, CA. Here is a summary of the presentation, plus a link to the deck and various related resources.