Interview Question

1 Apr 2006 - 3:59pm
8 years ago
9 replies
768 reads
Suba
2006

Hi all,

I have a question regarding interviews related to Interaction Design position. When you are asked to design or redesign a design problem, obviously there is no ime to do user study. So, how do we have to find the user requiremens for the given problem.

Can we say that for this problem due to less time I would like to do a scenario based design (Incorporating Personas , scenatios) and then comeup with assumptions that will work for my persona. Then say during lack of time reasoning throgh assumptions will help us find the strength and weekness of a product. However, I will do a user, usability study to test my assumptions.

How do we handle this

Also, given a problem, I would start describing the solution with my research plan for the problem which is

undersand the purpose of the product
Understand cusomer goals
Persona, Scenaris, storyboard
designing the information space
design alternative soluion
Brainstorm design, perform stakeholder analysis
Create Prototype
Test, Evaluate
Address design issues and redesign
Write detailed Spec

I then plan to explain each part and ask questions and design.

Is this a nice way of explaing solution to interviewers.

What is good abt this and what are we lacking

Sorry, for the long email, Any information will help lot of people on the list here.

Thanks.

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Comments

2 Apr 2006 - 10:52am
Dan Saffer
2003

On Apr 1, 2006, at 12:59 PM, Suba wrote:

> I have a question regarding interviews related to Interaction
> Design position. When you are asked to design or redesign a design
> problem, obviously there is no ime to do user study. So, how do we
> have to find the user requiremens for the given problem.

You make them up.

When you are given a design problem in an interview, it is about the
interviewers finding out how smart and innovative you are, not
understanding your whole involved design process. They want to see
you think on your feet, not fret about not knowing the requirements
and personas etc. of a given problem set. You can simply preface your
solution with: "Usually, I do X, Y, and Z here, but since I obviously
don't know those things, I'm just going to dive in to the solution."
It is the solution and how you derive that solution that the
interviewers are observing.

In my opinion, the worst thing you could do would be to be
sanctimonious about it and go into a long speech about your process
and how you don't work this way, blah blah blah. The interviewers
know this is an artificial arrangement. Instead, get a piece of paper
or a whiteboard and start sketching out a solution, explaining why
you are making the choices you are making. You can, of course,
qualify those choices, "Assuming there is an educated user base, a
slider would work well here, etc."

Dan

Dan Saffer
Sr. Interaction Designer, Adaptive Path
http://www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

2 Apr 2006 - 11:15am
John Vaughan - ...
2004

Dan Saffer sez
> When you are given a design problem in an interview, it is about the
> interviewers finding out how smart and innovative you are, not
> understanding your whole involved design process. They want to see
> you think on your feet, not fret about not knowing the requirements
> and personas etc. of a given problem set.

Bingo. As Dan sez, you may want to recite The UXP Litany in order to show
that you know and respect it. But then there's The Real World, too, which
often doesn't conform seamlessly with The Best of All Possible Worlds. Your
interviewer's not-so-hidden agenda is to find a skilled problem-solver.
Demonstrate "best practices" AND "getting the job done".

2 Apr 2006 - 11:33am
Mischke, Ali
2005

I understand where you're coming from, John and Dan, but I disagree somewhat. I've hired four designers and interviewed countless. When I ask these questions, I'm looking for a balance between process and real world. I look for someone to ask a few questions--who are the users here? What requirements and constraints do you already know about?--and then jump into design.

I agree that someone who came down on the side of sanctimony (the "I am an artiste" perspective, you could call it) would instantly turn me off as an interviewer. At the same time, I am also turned off by someone who makes too many assumptions. To me, this raises a red flag about a designer's ability to empathize, to identify what key information is missing, to understand that they are not their target users, and to properly adapt process to the situation at hand. I've worked with too many designers who design interfaces the way _they_ would want the interface to work, even if they are nothing like the target user population. I've also worked with designers who take the all or nothing approach--either we do the full UCD process, or we throw it entirely away. This shows an inflexibility that significantly interfere's in a designer's ability to succeed in a rapidly-changing corporate environment.

The folks I have hired have asked a few key questions, gotten the basic information, and then leapt into the design.

The folks I have not hired have generally fallen into one of these camps (I may be leaving a camp or two out, but this probably covers the majority):

- Jumped right into the design without asking any questions about who will use the interface
- Given me a long discussion about process and never gotten to the design
- Given me squishy answers about how they would go about the design and what kinds of problems they see, but never gotten around to solving them

-Ali

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com on behalf of John Vaughan
Sent: Sun 4/2/2006 12:15 PM
To: Dan Saffer; discuss at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] Interview Question

[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

Dan Saffer sez
> When you are given a design problem in an interview, it is about the
> interviewers finding out how smart and innovative you are, not
> understanding your whole involved design process. They want to see
> you think on your feet, not fret about not knowing the requirements
> and personas etc. of a given problem set.

Bingo. As Dan sez, you may want to recite The UXP Litany in order to show
that you know and respect it. But then there's The Real World, too, which
often doesn't conform seamlessly with The Best of All Possible Worlds. Your
interviewer's not-so-hidden agenda is to find a skilled problem-solver.
Demonstrate "best practices" AND "getting the job done".

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2 Apr 2006 - 11:11am
Suba
2006

Thanks Dan. That was helpful.

Previous discussions emphasized that the design process is important rather than the solution. So, I put more weight on the my design process.

I guess we need to exhibit a balance between the process and the soluion we arrive.

Thanks again for poining this out Dan.

Dan Saffer <dan at odannyboy.com> wrote: [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]

On Apr 1, 2006, at 12:59 PM, Suba wrote:

> I have a question regarding interviews related to Interaction
> Design position. When you are asked to design or redesign a design
> problem, obviously there is no ime to do user study. So, how do we
> have to find the user requiremens for the given problem.

You make them up.

When you are given a design problem in an interview, it is about the
interviewers finding out how smart and innovative you are, not
understanding your whole involved design process. They want to see
you think on your feet, not fret about not knowing the requirements
and personas etc. of a given problem set. You can simply preface your
solution with: "Usually, I do X, Y, and Z here, but since I obviously
don't know those things, I'm just going to dive in to the solution."
It is the solution and how you derive that solution that the
interviewers are observing.

In my opinion, the worst thing you could do would be to be
sanctimonious about it and go into a long speech about your process
and how you don't work this way, blah blah blah. The interviewers
know this is an artificial arrangement. Instead, get a piece of paper
or a whiteboard and start sketching out a solution, explaining why
you are making the choices you are making. You can, of course,
qualify those choices, "Assuming there is an educated user base, a
slider would work well here, etc."

Dan

Dan Saffer
Sr. Interaction Designer, Adaptive Path
http://www.adaptivepath.com
http://www.odannyboy.com

________________________________________________________________
Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
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2 Apr 2006 - 2:52pm
Dan Saffer
2003

On Apr 2, 2006, at 9:33 AM, Mischke, Ali wrote:

> I understand where you're coming from, John and Dan, but I disagree
> somewhat. I've hired four designers and interviewed countless.
> When I ask these questions, I'm looking for a balance between
> process and real world. I look for someone to ask a few questions--
> who are the users here? What requirements and constraints do you
> already know about?--and then jump into design.
I agree that process questions, especially when tied to a portfolio
item ("How did you come up with this solution?") are essential. But
you aren't going to get process from a design exercise done right
there, unless it's some marathon, several-day interview. And that
someone who leaps in without asking any questions is probably not a
very thoughtful designer either.

> I've worked with too many designers who design interfaces the way
> _they_ would want the interface to work, even if they are nothing
> like the target user population. I've also worked with designers
> who take the all or nothing approach--either we do the full UCD
> process, or we throw it entirely away. This shows an inflexibility
> that significantly interfere's in a designer's ability to succeed
> in a rapidly-changing corporate environment.
>
> The folks I have hired have asked a few key questions, gotten the
> basic information, and then leapt into the design.
Amen.

Dan

2 Apr 2006 - 4:32pm
Ash Donaldson
2005

On 3/4/06 3:33 AM, "Mischke, Ali" <Ali.Mischke at ironmountain.com> wrote:

> I understand where you're coming from, John and Dan, but I disagree somewhat.
> I've hired four designers and interviewed countless. When I ask these
> questions, I'm looking for a balance between process and real world. I look
> for someone to ask a few questions--who are the users here? What requirements
> and constraints do you already know about?--and then jump into design.

I couldn't agree more. I too have had to interview / hire a few people over
the years and would tend to stay away from those that jumped straight into
solution mode.

What we practice is 'human-centred design'. Even when there are constraints
that rule out our own research, we can usually draw upon the research of the
marketing or sales departments, metrics from call centres, industry research
data, etc.

If I presented an interviewee with a problem and they didn't even ask about
the users, I'd be quite worried. From the interviewee, I want to know:
A. The approach they'd take to tackling a project;
B. How they work around constraints; and
C. The quality of their solution based on the information at hand.

None of this takes days. Once you've weeded out the most appropriate
candidates, this stage takes only a couple of hours.

Cheers,

Ash Donaldson
Senior Experience Architect 
M 0414 55 9996 

www.different.com.au     T +61 2 9908 1077 F +61 2 9908 3443

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3 Apr 2006 - 1:36pm
leo.frishberg a...
2005

There's another side to this question too, and that is, what kind of
company is asking the question? Are they cognizant of design processes
or trying to build expertise? Are you being asked to lead or follow?

As an interviewee, you need to ask a set of questions about the design
problem, ::not to create a better solution in the span of 30 minutes::
but to better understand the environment you are hoping to get hired
into. Interviews are two-way streets and the design problem portion is
as rich an opportunity to learn about the company's perspective as it
is yours to strut your stuff.

Leo

3 Apr 2006 - 1:51pm
steveg72
2006

I agree with Leo. In addition, what has worked well for me, is to elevate the discussion
toward strategic issues (why is the company developing the product, what are they trying to achieve in their market? -- this typically assumes an NDA), and to identify design/market issues
that they are and ought to be thinking about. Again, the goal is not to solve their design problems in a 30 minute interview, but rather to understand their issues and goals.

-Steve

On Monday, April 03, 2006, at 02:36PM, <leo.frishberg at exgate.tek.com> wrote:

>[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
>There's another side to this question too, and that is, what kind of
>company is asking the question? Are they cognizant of design processes
>or trying to build expertise? Are you being asked to lead or follow?
>
>As an interviewee, you need to ask a set of questions about the design
>problem, ::not to create a better solution in the span of 30 minutes::
>but to better understand the environment you are hoping to get hired
>into. Interviews are two-way streets and the design problem portion is
>as rich an opportunity to learn about the company's perspective as it
>is yours to strut your stuff.
>
>Leo
>________________________________________________________________
>Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
>To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
>List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
>List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
>(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
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>Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
>Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
>Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>
>

3 Apr 2006 - 2:45pm
bhekking
2006

I want to second (third?) this sentiment. In my 15 or so years in software,
I've learned over time that the maturity of the team and its process is really
the key piece of information to ascertain in an interview. How does the team
make decisions? On what basis are they made? What level of
autonomy/responsibility will you be given? These factors are vital to try to
identify.

Bret Hekking

--- Steven Greenspan <steveg72 at mac.com> wrote:

> [Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
>
> I agree with Leo. In addition, what has worked well for me, is to elevate
> the discussion
> toward strategic issues (why is the company developing the product, what are
> they trying to achieve in their market? -- this typically assumes an NDA),
> and to identify design/market issues
> that they are and ought to be thinking about. Again, the goal is not to
> solve their design problems in a 30 minute interview, but rather to
> understand their issues and goals.
>
> -Steve
>
>
> On Monday, April 03, 2006, at 02:36PM, <leo.frishberg at exgate.tek.com> wrote:
>
> >[Please voluntarily trim replies to include only relevant quoted material.]
> >
> >There's another side to this question too, and that is, what kind of
> >company is asking the question? Are they cognizant of design processes
> >or trying to build expertise? Are you being asked to lead or follow?
> >
> >As an interviewee, you need to ask a set of questions about the design
> >problem, ::not to create a better solution in the span of 30 minutes::
> >but to better understand the environment you are hoping to get hired
> >into. Interviews are two-way streets and the design problem portion is
> >as rich an opportunity to learn about the company's perspective as it
> >is yours to strut your stuff.
> >
> >Leo
> >________________________________________________________________
> >Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> >To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> >List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> >List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> >(Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> >Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> >Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> >Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> >Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
> >
> >
> ________________________________________________________________
> Welcome to the Interaction Design Association (IxDA)!
> To post to this list ....... discuss at ixda.org
> List Guidelines ............ http://listguide.ixda.org/
> List Help .................. http://listhelp.ixda.org/
> (Un)Subscription Options ... http://subscription-options.ixda.org/
> Announcements List ......... http://subscribe-announce.ixda.org/
> Questions .................. lists at ixda.org
> Home ....................... http://ixda.org/
> Resource Library ........... http://resources.ixda.org
>

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