At the end of 2017, I got an interview opportunity from ThoughtWorks, one of the top creative technology consultancies on the globe. Eventually, I didn’t pass the final run but the well-designed take-home task and overall interview experience improved my UX design skills, which I considered worthy to share.
1. How design team members collaborate with each other
After the recruiter contacted me for a 30 mins phone interview, I received a take-home test which was required to submit in 3–5 days. The most interesting part of the brief was, I saw not only UX designer but the whole design team’s job description and their tasks in the email. It helped me to understand what kind of jobs need to be done by whom and what’s everyone’s contribution in one project.
Most companies asked designers to work on small tests, such as crafting an on-boarding hi-fi/low-fi wireframes for their apps, redesigning their landing page or drafting a design proposal for a pitch project. In this case, designers only focus on design elements instead of understanding how the team works together. The design only challenge is important but it would be nicer if designers can understand both the micro and macro aspect of the organization while doing a take-home test.
2. More than a job description, a candidate can literally experience the role
Even though the duties and deliverables are written on a job description, a designer’s actual job context could vary significantly from one design team to another. It’s vague to see what the design team is really looking from the list of to-do things. That’s why most of the designers are asked to work on the actual tasks they are going to tackle with during the interview process.
In ThoughtWorks’ case, since the whole design process needed to be completed in 3–5 day which might reflect the actual work scenario: UX designer may not have enough time to spend on the details of every project but the product has to be completed in 30–50 hours. The limited time and the heavy task forged designer to think again whether s/he would like to or be able to adapt to a fast-paced environment or not.
3. Figure out the design skills that need to be urgently improved
During the 54 hours on the test, I spent more time on product concept development rather than the mockup details. However, it’s very crucial for a designer to get hands dirty as much as it could be, which means UI and a few front-end skills need to be addressed more.
4. Gain new perspectives while working on the design task
The main insight I discovered from the task was that digital companies are capable of building cross-sector partnerships which reshapes the global economic structure and influence the society tremendously.
Since the brief I received was about traditional bookstore and e-commerce experience, just take Amazon, for instance. They were a bookseller at first. However, due to the success of their online business, they forced the offline retail shops to think about online shopping experience. Amazon also invaded the well-established automotive industry and developed their own self-driving car, which was never gonna happen before.
5. A good interview case study
The interview encourages me to study more about how technology has transformed the global communities and what would be a UX designer’s role in the game. In order to prepare for the interivew, I also read ThoughtWorks’s principal designer’s blog, TUZEI, and learnt how design team opeartes from his perspectives.
In a nutshell, any good test or exam is not about discoursing or criticizing applicant’s ability but helping them to achieve more in the career path. ThoughtWorks made it great and that’s why I feel appreciated for the overall experience.