Interview Tips [Orig Posted: 11/02/2005 10:11:55]

Cooper design has a couple of online “take home” style questions as part of its recruitment process. They are an interesting read and can serve as a good warm up for a prospective interview. The positions are
Interaction Designer (pdf)
Design Communication(pdf)
Interaction designer(pdf)

Chauncey Wilson, the moderator of STC Usability SIG has compiled and shared this list of interview questions with his community. Most ar3e pretty standard but some are really thought provoking (eg: A participant in a lab study has been struggling on the same task for a long time. What would you say to get them to move on to the next question?)

1. What 2-3 usability design books would you recommend to colleagues?
2. Why are you looking for a new position?
3. What do you like most/least about your current job?
4. What are some of the ethical issues that can arise in a usability/UI design position? Have you experienced any of these personally? What did you do to resolve the ethical issue?
5. Describe how you have marketed usability/Design in your current position? How would you market usability if you were the first usability/UI design person in a company?
6. Describe a project that didn’t go well for you in your current position and tell us what you might do differently?
7. What 2-3 usability evaluation methods are you most experienced with?
8. What usability/UI design methods would you like to know more about or are least experienced with?
9. Have you taught any courses or seminars in usability or UI design? What topics did you emphasize in the course?
10. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a GUI or Web style guide? If you have worked on a style guide, describe your method for developing it.
11. How have you addressed issues of UI consistency across products in your current position? (if yes, please describe how you did and the success and failures that you had).
12. About how many usability tests have your run?
13. What courses or seminars have you taken on usability or design?
14. Have you been involved in gathering requirements in your current or past positions? How did you go about gathering requirements? What would you do differently?
15. Can you describe a specific design problem that you work on and some of the issues or problems that you had to solve?
16. What are some of the differences in designing for the Web versus a Windows (or other platform) GUI application?
17. What percent of time to you spend in evaluation versus design in your current position?
18. What role can QA play in improving the usability or UI design of a product?
19. If you were going to visit a beta customer and were asked to take an engineer along, how would you prep the engineer for the visit?
20. What have/can you do to make usability lab testing as realistic as possible?
21. How much experience do you have recruiting external customers for evaluation or design activities?
22. Could you describe how some usability/UI design activities would fit into the development process?
23. How do you define when a product is “usable enough”?
24. Here are a few screen shots from an application. What problems do you see here (usually give a person about 15 minutes and then go over the screen shot – don’t make it too hard).
25. How have you reported the results of a lab or field study to the appropriate parties?
26. What tools do you use to prototype screens, windows, or Web pages?
27. What do you like most about the usability field? Least?
28. How would you test the usability of online or paper documentation?
29. What do you know about the products that this company makes? (check to see if the person did any research before coming to the interview)
30. What steps have you taken to convince a recalcitrant developer to listen to your advice?
31. What are some design techniques for preventing errors rather than displaying some kind of error message?
32. How would you present the results of a usability test to a senior VP? A development group?
33. Can you give a few examples of cognitive principles that should influence design?
34. How do you get answers to usability or design questions that you have in the absence of another colleague in the area?
35. Pose some human factors problems to the person to get at some general problem solving capabilities. I once interviewed with a firm where they asked me to re-design the faucets for a bathtub. Not your typical UI design problem, but it brought up issues of control-display compatibility, feedback, errors, safety, efficiency, etc. Several of the good HF textbooks have a number of examples that could be adapted for this?
36. What are some general internationalization/localization problems and solutions?
37. What are some visual design principles that you would try to follow when designing Web pages or windows? (I’m thinking about things like balance, symmetry, consistency, clutter, minimalism, etc. – there are a lot of things that would be OK here).
38. How do you decide what tasks should be part of a usability test? (I’m looking for things like – most frequent tasks, focus on a new critical feature, low-use, but extremely critical task that is catastrophic if done incorrectly, again there are a number of answers).
39. You are going to work at a company where everyone says that “we have a really distinct culture here.” How would you go about figuring out what that statement means and how it will affect your usability/design work? How did you find out about the culture at your current company?
40. Describe your worst experience as a [fill in current position]. How did you deal with it?
41. How do you analyze qualitative field data in a way that is useful for informing developers how to make design changes?
42. A participant in a lab study has been struggling on the same task for a long time. What would you say to get them to move on to the next question?
43. Show the person a 15 minute segment of a usability test and ask him/her to list the problems that they see during the segment. (Make sure that you have permission to sue that segment from the participant). Review the tape with the participant.
44. Ask the person to do the Heuristic Review at the end of Jakob Nielsen’s Usability Engineering book. Jakob has an answer list and this gets at a large number of design issues.
45. You have time to interview or test 5 users. What criteria would you use to choose the 5 people?
46. What are the advantages and disadvantages of Contextual Inquiry (only ask if they have listed this on their resume)?
47. How have/would you conduct a competitive analysis of two applications or web sites (assuming that there are no legal prohibitions)?
48. The lack of good requirements is often cited as the major flaw in producing useful products on time and within budget? What methods would you use to gather requirements?
49. Describe how the physical environment can have an impact on the design of a GUI application.
50. Here is a list of user attributes. Tell me how these attributes would affect design (for example, 10 percent of users are colorblind, the users are elderly, the users are disabled).
51. What are some general guidelines for making applications or Web pages accessible to users with visual, hearing, or motor disabilities?
52. Given that a usability person often delivers “bad news” how do you (or your management) keep good relations with the group that you are delivering the bad news to?

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