Hooray! You are in the interview process for the job you want! The next step is to submit and present a design assignment.
If you applied for design roles before this would sound familiar to you. Design assignments are a very common interview technique. It helps the employer to understand your design thinking approach and demonstrates how you communicate your design decisions. Many designers dread this phase. First, I’ll help you understand why it’s an important phase in the interview process and then demonstrate how you can be more confident with your next take-home assignment!
- What is a take-home UX design assignment?
- What is the goal and importance of a UX design assignment?
- Three actionable tips to prepare for your assignment
What is a take-home UX design assignment?
Design assignments are usually hypothetical scenarios and meant to illustrate your problem-solving skills. The actual design assignment can be anything from developing solutions for ordering pizza, scheduling a doctor appointment, redesigning a website of your choice or even a physical example like coming up with the ultimate microwave experience.
There really is no “standard” to design assignments – the focus should be on the process and less about perfecting the solution. Remember to ask questions if you are unsure about anything and to share the assumptions you make so others understand why you made your decisions!
If you are new to this type of interview here is how it works:
- Interviewers will give you a UX design assignment.
- The candidate needs to come up with a solution based on the scenario at home.
- Interviewers will provide you with a recommended maximum amount of time to spend on the assignment. Be sure to track your time when starting.
- In your next interview, you will present your solution.
It’s easy to be stressed out and start digging into the solution, however it’s important to pause and plan because unlike real-time whiteboard design challenges you can take this one home and do it in your own space and time.
If you need help understanding your assignment brief and how to approach your design problem – book a free session with me!
What is the goal and importance of a UX design assignment?
Let’s understand why interviewers require a take-home design assignment.
The core value of asking a potential candidate for a design assignment is to evaluate your thinking process, decision making, communication and presentation skills.
It’s all about the approach!
Interviewers might not ask for an assignment if you are a senior designer with a solid design portfolio, experience and are exceptional in demonstrating your skills. However, this is rare, if you are a junior designer definitely expect these types of assignments as you start looking for design roles.
It’s easy to be demotivated when you spend all those hours applying for roles and then get homework! That’s why it’s important to understand the interview process – if they are not clear about the deliverables or you are working while interviewing and need more time to ask. Plan your time to prepare and practice.
Three actionable tips to prepare for your assignment
Approach the design assignment as you would any project. Apply your UX design process and remember to document your thoughts and decisions.
- Be clear on what they are expecting from you.
- What’s the scope? What will you be delivering and what is the objective?
- How will the interviewers evaluate your assignment – align your skills with their expectations.
- If anything is unclear this is the best time to ask questions – just as you would if this was a client or the product team.
- There is no “wrong” solution only a lack of process
- The interviewers are not out to trick you. They simply want to see your design thinking process and how that influences your solution.
- Choose your research methods carefully as you only have limited time – use methods that are the easiest and fastest to conduct.
- Sketch/design only the most crucial screens and interactions.
- Make notes and write down your thinking as you go through your process so you can explain your decisions if challenged during the presentation.
- Tell your story and present your assignment
- Use presentation or whiteboard software to take your interviewers through the process and thinking. Tools to use Invision whiteboard, Miro, Whimsical, Mural
- Start at the beginning, set the context, include an overview, problem statement, assumptions, define users and showcase sketches, diagrams, flows, screens etc.
- Explain your decisions and focus on your process – those notes you wrote down earlier? Here is where you will need them.
- Finally summarize your findings, solutions and next steps.
- Be ready for questions and don’t take them personally!
Worried about the intention of take-home design assignments?
Ask yourself the following:
- Do you need to design a part of their product or service? Remember no free work.
- Will this task take me a full work week to complete? That calls for a paid project.
- Anything that feels unethical to you – it’s up to you to decide and say no.
Now you have a clear understanding of design assignments. Why we need them and how to prepare for them. Most of all make sure you are having fun along the way! If you put in the effort you can even use this as a “design assignment” task on your portfolio!
Need a portfolio review or help to prepare your design assignment? Book a free session with me and get started today!