UX Design exercise for job candidates
October 18, 2016 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Do you have, or have you encountered a design exercise for a UX job application that you thought was effective?

We're not looking for visual design. At this point in the process, we've already reviewed the portfolio, and we want something that shows more about their specific UX skills.

This is done as a take-home exercise rather than live interview. Previously we've used something like "design an instant message feature for such-and-such-famous-web-tool," with instructions to give us something that shows the design and helps us understand their process and decision making.

And all the results are ultimately the same with very minor differences between candidates. So we're looking for something else.

One criteria we have, because my company *actually* cares about people, is that since this is something we're asking for their time on, the result should be something they could use as part of a portfolio when applying elsewhere, should thy wish.
posted by colin_l to Work & Money (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What about doing something that requires them to propose how they'd improve an existing user experience at a restaurant or some other local venue? Have them identify the core issues, propose what sort of adjustments they'd make from different stakeholders' POVs, and then have them design one app or utility that could majorly improve that one core issue that they've identified thus far? It could give you a lot of insight into what they notice about UX in real life, and how they approach design problems in general. Maybe that's too left field, though, depending on what your company's focus is.
posted by Hermione Granger at 3:29 PM on October 18, 2016

UX is broad; what exactly are the responsibilities of the role? Depending on the answer to that, you could have them...

- Analyze existing products - they should pick both good and bad designs and justify their choices.
- Create a set of user personas for a product
- Put together a usability test plan - characteristics of suggested participants, detailed set of tasks - for a product
- Expand your current exercise to require multiple (low-fidelity) proposals, with an explanation of the tradeoffs
- Alter your current exercise to be about a user population that your candidate does not belong to. Have them formulate a plan for gathering information about these users. (This one's a vague attempt to ferret out people who can only design for themselves.)
posted by orangejenny at 4:06 PM on October 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you care about people, I highly recommend paying people an hourly wage for this.
posted by thirdletter at 6:54 PM on October 18, 2016 [7 favorites]

Having just gone through a slew of take home interview exercises. The best ones I encountered consisted of (re)solving an actual problem (perhaps abridged a bit), that the team I might be hired onto, had faced in the past. These ones actually gave me a clearer idea of what I'd be doing for the team day-to-day and the "follow up" interviews about the test projects were SO much more productive, because the team leader had put effort into solving the problem before hand and was actually excited to talk through it!

Also seconding Thirdletter, paying people for their time shows that you respect them as a professional (and you want to hire professional people, right?)
posted by Chicoreus at 8:09 PM on October 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

A jar of whimsy exercise?
posted by MsMolly at 12:14 AM on October 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

thirdletter - "I highly recommend paying people an hourly wage for this" - we do!

The paid part of the process comes later. This is meant to be a short, couple hours exercise similar to what you'd do on a normal in-person interview.
posted by colin_l at 8:16 AM on October 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

Chicoreus - thanks, the idea about having something that the reviewers are already excited to talk about it very helpful
posted by colin_l at 8:21 AM on October 19, 2016

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