UX design experts are very much in demand. Every company out there is looking for talent to provide meaningful user experiences that contribute to business growth goals.

But, hiring a UX designer isn’t easy. 

You’re not just looking for someone that’s well-versed in UX design—you’re looking for someone who’s also got other key qualities, such as great collaboration skills and an interest in learning. 

Knowing what to look out for is half the battle, so we’ve put together the top nine key qualities to look for when hiring your next UX designer.

  1. Ability to explain complex concepts clearly
  2. Excellent user research skills
  3. Great presentation skills
  4. Knowledge about tools
  5. Strong collaboration skills
  6. Curiosity and creativity
  7. A desire to learn
  8. An active listener
  9. An empathetic approach

Let’s start with the communication skills you want to look out for.

1. Communication: their ability to clearly explain complex concepts

Not everyone in your team will have in-depth UX design knowledge, and it’s your UX designer's job to clearly communicate the what and why of UX design decisions. Cross-collaboration requires effective communication from the UX design team to the rest of your organization.

How to assess communication skills?

When interviewing a UX designer, ask your candidate:

  • Why did they decide on a career in UX design?
  • How would they describe their role to someone who knows nothing about the field? 
  • What was a project they worked on that required cross-team collaboration? 

Knowing how to communicate complex information in an efficient way is a must-have skill. If the candidate gives an overly technical, disorganized explanation, they’ll likely have similar issues when communicating within your organization.

Alongside the issues this poses to organizational communication, you also want to consider how this transfers to their effectiveness as a UX and UI  designer. 

UX designers often work closely with users to understand their needs and ensure the product is understandable and accessible. If your candidate is not able to tell you about their work in layman’s terms, they’ll have a hard time communicating with users too.

You can verify whether your candidate has what it takes by taking this skill test that will give you a snapshot of their UI/UX skills; including their knowledge of UX research, user interface design, and methodologies.

2. Research: their approach to conducting effective user research

User research is the foundation of excellent user experience design. Creating a great product begins with knowing and understanding user behavior. 

Your UX designer must have excellent user research skills. They should know that a good user experience is impossible if not backed by research. They should be able to conduct this research independently and be able to communicate their findings to a team. 

It helps if they have experience with UX research platforms and tools, so consider asking them about any prior projects that might have used them.

How to assess research skills?

To hire the best UX talent you need to assess their research skills. Ask a variety of research-focused questions, such as:

  • What is your research process?
  • How do you approach creating user personas?
  • What’s your process for choosing the best research method?
  • Tell me about a time your research was used to make a decision
  • What research methods have you used previously?

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3. Presentation skills: their approach to sharing insights and findings

Now, you're not looking for a fully-fledged graphic designer—but UX designers need good presentation skills. They’re required to present research insights, solutions, ideas, and more—often with the goal of securing stakeholder buy-in.

Designers must be able to craft a story that highlights integral points such as the problem, the objectives, and how to achieve them. 

How to assess presentation skills?

To determine whether a UI/UX designer has strong presentation skills, look no further than their portfolio.

It’s always impressive to look at portfolios that are structured with exceptional design wireframes, nice layouts, great mockups, and perfect typography—it gives you a glimpse into your applicant’s visual design and presentation preferences and skills. 

Alternatively, you could also ask UX designers to interview with a presentation. You can provide details on what you’d like to know about them—such as experience, past projects, outlook, and more—and let them create a presentation that covers everything.

4. Tech competency: they’re comfortable with common UX design tools

When it comes to hard skills, UX designers for hire need the necessary knowledge of the tools, digital products, and software your team uses—or the competency to learn them. 

How to assess tech competency?

There are a number of ways you can assess tech competency in prospective UX design hires. One way is to ask some tech-focused questions:

  • What does your tech stack include?
  • Have you ever used XYZ tool?
  • What’s your favorite UX design tool and why?
  • Have you ever conducted usability testing?

Another way to assess tech skills is to conduct a tool-specific skills test. This test enables you to asses an applicant's proficiency in using a specific tool, such as Figma or AdobeXD. You can even take it a step further, and conduct a full UX design skill test—to assess a variety of UX design skills.

5. Collaboration: they work well in team environments 

When you’re looking to hire a UX designer, your candidate needs to be a team player.

UX designers, no matter how senior, are a part of a team. They should be able to collaborate with others, including the developers, engineers, product managers, the project lead, the QAs, sales representatives, and other product stakeholders.

No matter how talented and experienced your candidate is, if they can’t gather feedback from colleagues, listen to constructive criticism, or work collaboratively they’re not going to make a great team player.     

How to assess collaboration? 

Here are some UX design interview questions to ask when assessing collaboration:

  • Do you prefer working independently or as part of a team? Why?
  • What qualities do you think an effective team has?
  • Tell me about a time you worked closely with a team member to achieve a goal
  • Did you ever disagree with a coworker on a project? How did you resolve the disagreement? What was the outcome?

 Their replies to these questions will give you an insight into how the UX designer fits into teamwork environments.

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6. Innovative: they’re curious and creative

A successful UX designer is curious, unafraid to ask questions, and always ready to learn more. This quality enables them to try out new processes and methodologies to search for creative solutions. 

How to assess innovative mindsets?

Though many UX designers possess strong UX writing and visual design skills, measuring their creativity can be pretty tricky. Assessing innovation skills is tough, but consider asking:

  • What do you think is often overlooked in UX design?
  • When did you work on a project that required an innovative approach? How did you go about it?
  • Is there anything you’d improve on from what you’ve seen of our approach to UX design?

There’s no single way to determine if a UX designer strives to innovate—but listening to the answers they give here is a good start. Innovation requires creativity and, often, bravery. Asking them to point out a fault in your UX design, and how they’d go about amending it, requires both bravery and creativity.

Once you understand their way of thinking, you’ll have a better insight into how innovative they are.

7. Adaptable: they show an eagerness to learn

A learner is someone who isn’t afraid of failing. They take risks where necessary, and fail fast to learn faster. It’s a quality that sets strong UX designers apart from the rest.

The UX design industry is constantly evolving. There’s always something new happening: new tools, information, concepts, software, customer demands, methods, and technology.  

You’ll need a designer that can adapt, has an eagerness to learn, and can help inspire the direction of your product development while still championing your users.

How to assess adaptability? 

Again, adaptability is a tough skill to assess. Consider asking:

  • When was the last time you adapted to feedback?
  • What was a learning curve you had to overcome in a previous role?
  • How are you working on improving your UX skills?

You need a UX designer that’s open to feedback and change, and is able to pivot to accommodate a new direction.

8. Listening skills: they’re an active listener

UI and UX designers are expected to listen, observe, and understand users and stakeholders to deliver meaningful products. To successfully do that, they need to be great listeners. 

Conducting user interviews, digging deeper into the user journey, analyzing the target audience, and gathering feedback all require strong listening skills.

How to assess listening skills?

Here are a few things you can look for to determine how well your candidate listens:

  • Observe their approach to answering questions
  • Ask them about a time they listened to users, instead of just hearing them
  • Engage them on an issue and look at how they reply

Listening skills are important in any role—but they’re crucial for UX designers, both when collaborating in-house and when talking with customers.

9. Empathy: they’re able to understand how others feel

In the world of UX design, empathy is perhaps the most in-demand skill. It’s the process of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and attempting to feel what they feel.

A UX designer’s work is to understand and solve the user’s pain points. This is only possible through empathizing and connecting with them.

How do you test your candidate for empathy?

Ask your candidate about a project that required them to empathize with users. The way they respond will give you an insight into how they view the role of empathy in their position as a UX designer.

Consider talking about:

  • How they handle difficult users
  • How they actively try to put themselves in the user's shoes
  • How they approach user interviews

You can also assess empathy—alongside other soft and technical skills—with Uxcel’s Core Qualities test. This assessment will test your candidate’s creativity, interpersonal skills, and time management skills, as well as the other core qualities you need in a UX designer.

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Start hiring quality UX designers with Uxcel

Hiring is hard, and hiring a UX designer has its own unique difficulties. You want to ensure you’ve found a candidate that ticks a wide variety of boxes—not just those related to UX design.

Whether you’re looking to improve the hiring process of your company or hire UX designers who are highly-talent exceptional, try finding a candidate with Uxcel. The candidate pool consists of 160,000+ top-notch UX designers ready to take on your UX design challenges.

Plus, Uxcel enables you to screen candidates before hiring them—meaning you’re guaranteed to get a qualified, talented UX designer.

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