Leading in your interviews

shabana.ahmed
3 min readApr 10, 2023

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Flock of birds in flight
Photo by Chris Briggs on Unsplash

Enter google:

“how to interview for a UX design role”
“how to complete a design whiteboard challenge”
“how to talk about case studies” etc

Is this you? it's definitely a bit of me 😉

Designers can have the hardest time in delivering projects, launching products, creating working solutions, and fulfilling the day-to-day grind of the job itself. Being in UX, UI, product, etc is demanding and requires constant exploration and failure. It requires much dedication and presence.

So why is it, when it comes to the cashing in part aka the interview, we might find it hard to explain our work, talk about ourselves in that period of time? it is after all our own work. Why do we vacate our own party?

“The Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts” — Aristotle

I associate this with how product teams in general succeed, the very combined elements of the members and what they bring to the table is the collective fuel.
All have prepared minds and in a truly safe, collaborative, well-meaning team the synthesis of the parts to create something far greater than when you go alone is real.

I have a theory that when it comes to interviewing, the best of us still struggle, even seasoned pros. I certainly have faced this high fence. I believe it’s due to the collective thinking mentality. It becomes difficult to separate the yolk from the white to become a matter of fact and recognise or present the factual things you achieved.
Once you do, delivering it in a way that is logical, easy to understand, and engaging is an art in itself.

Over the years of being in many interviews and having the honor of interviewing others, I accumulated a self-hack list of how I like to prepare and approach the interview. I’d like to share it with you.

  • Acknowledge that you already have what it takes to step into place ‘X’ and do what you do best
  • Reflect on the work you produced and how it took time and effort, get comfortable with talking about exactly what you did and how that created an impact, effected change
  • Role-play the parts that make you nervous eg practice presenting your case study with another person (get to know your case study and don’t let it surprise you!)
  • The interview is a 2 way conversation. There is no hierarchy of power, so please interview them back to find out if it's a good fit for you
  • It’s okay to be humble and say ‘I don’t know the answer’ when you really don’t. No designer is the whole sum of parts. Be optimistic and suggest how you might like to find out the answers to ‘X’

Lastly, practice the physicality of breathing, and take pauses when you speak. The silence gaps will work in your favour.

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shabana.ahmed

I design experiences and interfaces for a living. I believe that life can always be more simple.