Welcome to Tech Talent Digest Hiring Guides. Their purpose is to help you understand how to find, evaluate, and hire the best talent for your startup.
Each guide will feature an expert in a specific field. Our first expert is Michael Tyrrell, UX Designer extraordinaire.
Started off at Razorfish where he worked on projects such as Ford Sync and Hulu.
Got recruited to one of the hottest product agencies in the industry, Hard Candy Shell, where he helped design one of Foursquare’s earliest interfaces and worked on Gawker’s redesign.
He now does freelance work on two HR related startups, Jibe and Greenhouse. He’s also building his wine related startup – Winezeus.
In a world where anybody can throw some buttons and blocks on a page and call themselves a UX designer, how do you filter?
Please note: most of the interviewing is done using a portfolio of work. If the UX has nothing to show, then don’t consider him (unless there is some very compelling reason).
Every tab, button, box and drop down menu that you see on a site has been chosen. Sometimes, there is a solid reason for each choice. Often there was none. A good UX person needs to be thoughtful, and deliberate in his choices.
In the interview:
Get examples of their work, and have them talk you through it. Everything must have been considered. Everything must have been deliberate.
Don’t prompt them at first to explain, as that should be the first thing they do.
Sales intelligence, persuasion skills
A good UX person is constantly internally selling his thought process across the whole organization. He will be subjected to criticism, and asked to go back to the drawing board again and again. He’ll need the social intelligence and sales skills to understand what needs to be changed, and why.
In the interview
Look for classic intelligence skills, and emphasize social intelligence. Critisize the work, and see how he responds. He should use your critisism as the base for an insightful conversation, not a reason to be defensive or shut down.
A translator of tradeoffs
There is no perfect interface and no right answer. A good UX person will be able to come up with a couple different options, and be able to translate the tradeoffs between them – especially in the context of certain business objectives.
In the interview
Ask for an alternative solution to a particular wireframe that he created. Look for calm and especially clarity in his explaining why one solution is more advantageous than another.
A UX person does not have all the answers. His goal is rather to bring together all the other stakeholders in a startup to decide on the optimal layout for a website. So you need someone who knows how to collaborate with others and let them put their concerns on the table.
In the interview
Bring in several types of people in your organization, such as sales, marketing, and development. Ask him to speak to their specific needs, and see how he manages potentially conflictual demands.
RED FLAG: Someone who “fetishizes the deliverable.”
A UX designer will spend days building together wires and then have one review that will force him to scrap the whole thing. There is no room for a diva here.
The other important thing to remember is that wireframes get thrown away. Its wasted time to make them all pretty. Many UX designers get caught up in their own work – and forget about the process that they are a part of.
If somebody treats their wireframes like a masterpiece, show them the door.
Say you’ve found the perfect candidate. How will you sell him?
UX Designers like deep product work with a lot functionality, less marketing or branding sites. Its much more interesting to design a CRM tool with tons of functionality than a microsite selling a new brand of shampoo.
Highlight the hard problems that they will solve.