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UX interview advice

June 2016 – Jay Kaufmann

In this series, Jay Kaufmann of Zalando gives tips on how to think and act user-centered when applying for a UX gig, so that you can inspire joy-of-use among HR specialists and user experience managers and land your dream job.

When I look at your job application, I like to know what you do.

This seems simple at first glance. But designing great digital experiences is a collaborative endeavor. When it launches, the user interface has been touched by many hands and informed by many conversations. Especially when your portfolio shows shiny screenshots or links to finished products, it’s hard for me to tease out your part in the process.

When explaining your work in an interview, please help me understand what resulted from teamwork and what work came from your own hand.

How? It truly is simple:

  • Say “we” when you mean “we”.
  • Say “I” when you mean “I”.


When they explain their portfolio, many candidates talk about “we” when they mean “I”. I see this tendency especially among women. I still remember a case about a year ago when a promising young designer was telling me about her work. She was explaining a really nice impulse to interview users jointly with the most skeptical of stakeholders so that they could directly see where they were missing the point. She used “we” language the entire time.

“So, who’s idea was this?”, I finally asked.


“And who led the workshop?”


She got the job.

So please take ownership for your work. Say “I” when you mean “I”.


Three more tips toward clarity:

  • Show team spirit. Don’t eliminate “we” from your vocabulary. Collaboration is key and the first-person plural pronoun is powerful. I want to see your sense of “we”.
  • Credit your colleagues. Make your “I” more credible by surrounding it with “she” and “he” and “they”. Tell me what the other designer did. Tell me what good ideas the developers had, or even where the Product Manager rightfully challenged you and was able to get better designs out of you.
  • Show your raw work. The final result is almost always a team effort. The early ideas, the post-its and sketches are the most personal. You’ll stick in my mind better if I go out of an interview knowing what your sketching style is, what your handwriting looks like.

When interviewing, find the sweet spot between personal pride and ego-free teamwork.

Be precise with your “we” and your “I”.

jay kaufmann uxswitch zalando


Jay Kaufmann is currently “UX Lead: Talent” at Zalando. He has been designing interfaces since 1996. He built up user experience teams at two previous companies and hired designers for a half-dozen clients as a consultant before joining Zalando’s tech team

Zalando SE is Europe’s most fashionable tech company. We’re hiring.


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Source link https://www.uxswitch.com/interview-tip-own-your-work-with-i-language/


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