I interviewed 36 black mid and senior UX Designers and you will never guess what they told me about interviewing while black

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Organizations are building an environment of User Experience Design interviewing intolerance within the black UX Design community. This is a significant issue that will lead to the lack of mid and senior-level talent to interview for jobs in small and larger organizations.

Interviews can be valuable for both the organization doing the interviewing and the person interviewing. It’s a way for both parties to learn more about each other, but it’s an even better way for both parties to gain valuable feedback about the process, their strengths, and weaknesses. The problem is organizations have been benefiting for years. The interviewee is left feeling like it was a waste of their time forcing themselves to send happy emails and thanking the interviewers for the opportunity.

Summary of Issues

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After interviewing, none of the organizations gave feedback or suggested they could contact them for feedback. None of us sit in interviews with other black UX Designers. In other words, none of these organizations felt it was necessary or valuable to have blacks as part of the interviewing process. When asked what would you change or do differently? The typical answer was nothing. 35 out of 36 said nothing. Why? They didn’t get any feedback on strengths and weaknesses that would lead them to change their answers.

I asked what upsets you the most about the interviews?

Reaching out to me, asking me to interview, and asking me why I am interviewing for this position upsets me. Do you want a lie or the truth? You know why. You asked, so I’m looking for you to show me why you asked me to interview and leave my good job.

I get it. They want to make sure they are not hiring a UX hobbyist or wannabe. Someone who knows the science stays up to date and who’s an entrepreneur in the space. Getting a belittling question like where would I start and expecting not to get complicated answers is silly. It’s design. There are no wrong answers, so why give me a question with millions of solutions, and you are looking for a specific answer.

The real problem is the big organizations do too much, and they have a list of organizations in which they consider to have good UX Design, and if you are coming for any of the big 10, you don’t go through the intimidating process. Most of the small organizations read some blog posts on how to hire, and they are asking questions verbatim. Most of the time, I have more experience than the person interviewing me. Has anyone interviewed at Apple?

These jobs want to see work but don’t accept personal projects as work. The work I do on my job is all under an NDA. Then you tell me to talk about them. Really, that’s not what you want; you want to see research, evolution, sexy, mouth-watering design. The best way for me to give that to you is to create the type of work I want to do and use real users. I can show you my skills and that I’m competent, but you treat it as if I’m not currently working as a UX designer with YEARS of experience. I never want to interview again.

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Other stats

  • 36 out of 36 feel the interview is a waste of time
  • 22 out of 36 have interviewed this month or are currently interviewing
  • 31 out of 36 has received an invite to interview on LinkedIn this week
  • 36 out of 36 will relocate for the right job
  • 36 out of 36 loves the UX Design field
  • 35 out of 36 makes more than 100,000 a year
  • 27 out of 36 started their design career later in age
  • 32 out of 36 are commonly mistaken to be younger
  • 36 out of 36 would use the feedback if given and reinterview within the next year or later

Solutions

  • Interview timelines and expectations upfront.
  • Being interviewed by blacks. As one participant stated, Of course, I’m not a good fit; I’m not white. You don’t know the black culture and black behavior to determine if I will fit your culture. Please show me a black person at your org who’s not code-switching.
  • Interview feedback. Since you have all of this documentation around your process, we should know what to improve on. Wrong. Seven participants stated they had their first whiteboarding session at Facebook and still don’t understand if the session was successful. If you do offer feedback, state that upfront.
  • Research before you reach out. The average income of the group was ~$137,000. If I’m currently making $125,000, why would you juggle a job that’s paying $85,000 in my face?
  • Quantify all of our experience, not just UX experience. They don’t match relevant skills and experience. Everything is black and white. One participant is the owner of their own company that makes over $500,000 a year. Organizations are not equipped to quantify that experience, but they can quantify a Mcdonald’s management experience from 25 years ago.
  • The book “the ideal team player” is a guide, not a birthright.
  • Offer timelines for when we could apply again.
  • It’s both of our jobs to follow up. Following up means I’m interested.
  • Narrow down asking if we have any questions. Each interviewer asks this same question, and I ask them all the same questions like it was my first time thinking of them. I know you use this to measure my interest but think about how I feel asking these questions nine times.

Final

UX Consultant at @wwt_inc , CAC @aigadesign , and owner of @plusdiversity . Adobe’s 2019 UX Designers to Watch http://adobe.ly/2lVQNO0