The Complete Guide to Hiring Outstanding UX Designers

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@adamfardAdam Fard

Lead UX Designer - Helping Startups to Improve their App Usability and Increase Engagement

By Adam Fard, founder of a UX Design Agency
Anyone who has gone through the process of looking for, evaluating, and hiring UX designers will tell you that it’s not easy. First, you need to find UX designers, then you need to evaluate them against structured criteria, and then finally, you need to convince them to join your payroll. Of course, all that is easier said than done.
To make sure you get through this process as smoothly as possible, you’ll want all the help you can get.
Here’s an insider’s guide on how to find, evaluate, and hire UX designers successfully.

Where Can You Find UX Designers?

Targeted Outreach

Targeted outreach is one of the most effective ways to find a great UX designer, especially if you have a team that has worked with — or knows someone who has worked with — designers in the past. As the name suggests, targeted outreach means you need to make the first move and contact prospective designers.
Sit down with your team and brainstorm a few names. Create a list of UX designers and start reaching out to them. If they’re too busy or not interested, ask them to refer someone else. Essentially, targeted outreach is based on referrals, so you can rest assured knowing that you’ll find someone with relevant experience and expertise.

Online UX Design Communities

There are plenty of online communities where UX designers can show off their designs and share portfolios. Here, you can find skilled UX designers from all around the world, browse endless designs, and even post a job with your specific requirements.
Keep in mind that while these online communities are an awesome place to screen visual designs, they’re not particularly useful when it comes to understanding the strategy, vision, interaction, or architecture used by the designers to build the final product. Namely, you get a glimpse of the surface but not what is beneath it.
”A beautiful product that doesn’t work very well is ugly.”
— Jonathan Ive
For this reason, it’s important that you know exactly what you want and need from your UX designer. Otherwise, you might end up finding a UX designer who excels in creativity but is lacking in the strategic department.
Prominent online UX design communities include Dribbble, Behance, Coroflot, and Awwwards.

UX Job Boards

Even though you can post your UX design job post on any job search engine, it’s best to post on job boards that specialize in UX design. This way, you can be certain that your post will target and reach the right audience: UX designers.
Here are UX job boards where you can find your ideal UX designer:
UX Jobs Board
Just UX Jobs
Designer Hangout
Authentic Jobs

How Do You Evaluate a UX Designer?

When you find a UX designer who seems like a good fit, it’s time to put them to the test and evaluate them. How do you do this? Everyone has their own methods, but most interviewers just go with their gut feeling. This is wrong. Your instincts — or innate biases — should not be the main selection criterion for a UX designer.
You have to know what you want in a UX designer. What is good depends on a candidate’s matching the competencies that you’ve chosen, at the levels of proficiency that you need.”
— Nathaniel Davis
Instead, you should develop valid selection criteria to make the evaluation — and ultimately, the selection — more accurate.
To objectively evaluate UX designers, follow these four steps:
1. Know what you want. Define the specs of your project and design requirements.
2. Evaluate hard skills. What skills are vital to the successful completion of the project?
3. Explore soft skills. What personal attributes does the designer possess
4. Test UX designers. Can they create a viable design solution that satisfies expectations?
Additionally, you want your criteria to feature various qualities and skills that are essential to your project. This will ensure that the UX designer can easily adjust and contribute to your team.
Here’s what to look for when hiring a UX designer:

Design Skills

What do you want to find out? Can this UX designer do the job efficiently?
How can you find out? Review portfolio, ask questions, and give design exercises.
Experience. Do they have sufficient experience in UX design?
Problem setting. Can they identify, question, and prioritize problems?
User-centered process. Do they base their design decisions on user insights?
Idea generation. Are they able to quickly generate high-quality solutions?Systems thinking. Do they understand how their solution will fit into users’ lives?
Visual appeal. Is their design appropriate for the audience?
Innovation. Does their design feel new and original?#

People Skills

What do you want to find out? Do I want to work with this designer?
How can you find out? One-on-one interviews, cover letters, and back-and-forth emails.
Communication. Are they a good listener and a persuasive speaker?
Collaboration. Can they work efficiently as part of a team?
Cultural contribution. Do they represent your company’s values?
Leadership. Do they take proud ownership of their work and decisions
Mission. Did they read up on your company prior to the interview?
UX designers that possess these skills are definitely worth considering for the job.
If you’re stuck on finding the right questions to ask UX designers during interviews, here are a few that will give you the information you need to make the final decision:
Describe your design process and methods.Describe the challenges you faced on a recent project.How did you approach the problem?Provide examples of how you deal with user research and usability testing.How do you handle criticism from clients?What does it mean to be a great UX designer?What analytical tools do you use to evaluate your designs?

What Else Should You Know Before Hiring a UX Designer?

When looking for the right UX designer, companies often make mistakes that end up blowing up in their faces. Make sure to avoid these common mistakes when hiring UX designers:
Merge separate roles. Do not expect a UX designer to perform a wide range of tasks outside their professional domain, like UI, marketing, and QA. If you’re looking for a great UX designer, stick to looking for someone who’s just that.
Judge a UX portfolio on quantity. Do not make the assumption that a UX designer with only a handful of samples in their portfolio is any less experienced than someone with 20 samples. Focus on what’s inside the portfolio, and put an emphasis on quality over quantity.
Expect a fast turnaround. Do not set unrealistic deadlines and rush a UX designer. This will do you more harm than good. Great UX design takes time. Accept it. Give the designer enough time to do their job properly, or risk cutting your product’s chances of success.
Posting a mediocre job ad. Do not reach out to UX designers with a boring job ad. Create one that will stand out from the crowd and spark interest. Share your company story, promote your work culture, and present your vision in a way that will leave a positive impression.
Ignore the competitive UX market. Do not think that UX designers are a dime a dozen. They’re not. UX is an extremely competitive market. This means you should think of ways to motivate and retain top UX talent even before you acquire it.
Finding, evaluating, and hiring a UX designer is not the easiest task. There’s no denying that. But with the right approach and can-do attitude, you can find a great UX designer to join your team.


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