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Common UX Research Job Interview Questions & How to Answer Them

Impress your interviewer with thoughtful answers to the most common interview questions for user research roles.

Congrats—you’ve landed the job interview for your first (or next) UX research role! 

Now, to make sure you stand out against other candidates, you need to prepare stellar answers to potential interview questions. 

Leaving aside the usual “tell us about yourself,” types of questions, here is a list of the most common UX research interview questions and tips for answering them, including:

  • Background questions
  • Decision-driven research questions
  • Process and technical knowledge questions
  • Adaptability questions
  • Collaboration questions

... and a few bonus tips for nailing the UX research job interview!

Common user research job interview questions

Background questions

Naturally, your interviewer will want to know how your background (both personal and professional) has set you up for a successful career in user research. They’ll ask questions like: 

  1. Why are you interested in user research?
  2. How much do you know about our company?
  3. How did you learn about UX research?
  4. What aspect of your education prepared you for this role?
  5. What is your research process?
  6. Which tools do you use?
  7. What has been your greatest accomplishment to date?
  8. How do you expand your knowledge about the industry?

Tips for answering UXR background questions

In answering these questions, be sure to:

  • Explain how your background translates into the skills, knowledge, interest, and experience you need to succeed as a user researcher. Ideally, you’ll have experience in recruiting, generative interviews, usability testing, and other research methods, as well as a strong interest in people and a curious, analytical mind. 
  • Show you’ve done your research about the role, the company, and the industry. Interviewing for a research role without having researched the company ahead of time? Not a good look. Be specific about why you’re excited about the company and how you’re uniquely positioned to make an impact. 
  • Demonstrate your dedication to the field by mentioning the UXR tools and methods you prefer to use, the resources you follow for professional development, and other ways you stay up to date with the industry. 

If you’re just breaking into user research or transitioning from a different field, don’t fret. You don’t necessarily have to have a background in user research to land your first UXR role. In fact, most UXRs (77%) transition from other fields. (Tip: If possible, start looking for ways to get involved with research in your current role; many companies prefer to hire internally, and may not demand the same level of research experience from an internal candidate.)

Whether you’re new to the field or have many years of user research under your belt, you’re going to need a strong UX research portfolio to demonstrate the skills and knowledge you need to land the role. Of course, if you’re brand new to user research, you’ll have a harder time pulling together examples of real research projects; UX Researcher and career coach Eniola Abioye had some great advice about how aspiring UXRs can demonstrate their skills and create a portfolio that showcases their potential.

Additionally, UX research internships have become more popular in recent years. These can offer a smooth stepping stone into a full-time role and help you build a portfolio of real-world projects.

Decision-driven research questions

Decision-driven research is an approach we use when planning user research projects at User Interviews to ensure that those projects have a tangible impact on decision-making. User Interviews’s VP of User Research, Roberta Dombrowski, asks specific questions related to decision-driven research in job interviews for researchers on her team. For example: 

  1. How do you choose the best research method to inform your decisions?
  2. When shouldn’t you do research to support a decision?
  3. Can you tell me about a time you had to get buy-in for a project or an idea?
  4. Can you tell me about a time when your research was used to inform a decision?
  5. What is your approach to sharing insights with stakeholders? 
  6. How do you know when your research has made an impact?

Tips for answering decision-driven research questions

People who do research in the context of product design and development (or in any business setting, really) value research based on outcomes over purely academic research. When answering questions related to decision-driven research, demonstrate your focus on enabling organizational decisions: 

  • Explain your process for choosing research method(s). Hint: Start with high-level organizational goals and work your way forwards from there. Try to give examples of specific projects in which you started with a decision in mind and planned the study accordingly. 
  • Demonstrate an aptitude for stakeholder engagement. Your stakeholders—usually designers and product managers, and sometimes executives—are the people in your organization who’ll be using your research to make decisions. Show your interviewer that you’re mindful of stakeholder needs by including stakeholder interviews in your planning process, as well as tactics to gain stakeholder buy-in
  • Emphasize an intentional approach to reporting research findings. Effective UX research reports and deliverables are critical tools for doing research that makes an impact. Your interviewer will look for confirmation that you’re able to synthesize and present your findings in a way that resonates. 

For bonus points, try to work in strategies for tracking the impact of your UX research. According to the State of User Research 2022 Report, people who don’t track the impact of their research are notably less satisfied with how research is used to make decisions at their company compared to people who do—yet roughly a third of researchers still don’t track the impact of their work. If you can demonstrate clear and intention strategies for doing so in your interview, you’ll already be ahead of the game. (This is also a good question to ask your interviewer! Find out how the research team measures success, and what kind of metrics you’ll be expected to impact.)

Process and technical knowledge questions

At the risk of stating the obvious: Your interviewer will want to confirm that you actually know how to do user research. To that end, they’ll probably ask questions like:

  1. How would you design a study for___?
  2. What kind of research methods have you applied in the past?
  3. What is your favorite method? What are its pros and cons?
  4. When do you choose qualitative, quantitative, or mixed research methods?
  5. How do you know you’re asking the right questions for a research project?
  6. How do you account for bias?
  7. If you could only ask one survey question, what question would you ask to evaluate how people feel about a product's entire experience?
  8. How do you approach analyzing and drawing conclusions from a large amount of data?
  9. When do you know when your research is ‘done?’
  10. Pick a favorite app. Tell us how you’d evaluate it?

Tips for answering process and technical knowledge questions

Of course, the best way to prepare for these questions is to know your stuff—but at this point in the hiring process, we’d hope that you already do. 

(If you don’t—or if you want to brush up on your fundamentals to avoid blanking during the interview—our User Experience Research Field Guide is a great resource for all UXR topics, from recruitment to methods to analysis and reporting.)

When answering questions about your user research methods, it’s important to: 

  • Use specific details and examples to support your answers. 
  • Present yourself with confidence and enthusiasm.
  • Know what you don’t know—that is, be mindful of your blind spots and talk about the ways in which you might work with your team, lean on experts in the user research community, and use other strategies to account for those blind spots. 

Adaptability questions

User research is a relatively new, rapidly-evolving industry. And although teams and budgets have been growing over the last few years, many research teams are still under-resourced. Even very well-funded teams are subject to evolving stakeholder expectations and demands for research and enablement. To thrive as a user researcher, you need to be adaptable, resourceful, and flexible to change. Your interviewer will look for evidence of this adaptability with questions like:

  1. How do you continue your professional development?
  2. What’s the most challenging part about UXR?
  3. What type of environment do you thrive in?
  4. How do you manage multiple projects with competing deadlines?
  5. Describe a time when your research didn’t go as planned. What did you do? 
  6. What’s an example of a difficult decision you’ve had to make as a researcher? How did you go about making that decision?
  7. What do you do if both of the design options given to you for usability testing failed?
  8. If you were short on time and budget, which research method would you choose? 

Tips for answering adaptability questions

Here are some tips for effectively demonstrating your adaptability in an interview:

  • Frame your answers in a story—situation, task, action, result. Telling stories this way allows you to walk through your decision-making process and demonstrates that you make intentional choices with an awareness of their potential impact. 
  • Be honest. Sometimes plans fall through the cracks. It’s a normal, regular occurrence in any role. Don’t shy away from admitting to any mistakes or failures you’ve experienced—show the interviewer that you can take accountability, learn from the past, and overcome challenges. 
  • Be positive. You may be able to quickly shift your priorities in response to new deadlines or dependencies, but that skill is less attractive if you’re easily disgruntled, scared of risk, or prone to playing the blame game. Present your answers with a positive attitude to prove you can keep a cool head in stressful situations. 

Need inspiration? In this post, Mary Gribbons, Wistia’s Senior UX Research Manager, shares how she overcomes common challenges in conducting user interviews. 

Collaboration questions

User research is a highly collaborative process that involves working with designers, product managers, and engineers. As more companies lean into a democratized approach to research, the ability to work across teams becomes even more important. To gauge your affinity for collaboration, your interviewer will ask questions like:

  1. Tell me about a time when you had to collaborate with stakeholders on a project. 
  2. Which other roles and teams do you interact with on a daily basis?
  3. How do you handle it when stakeholders are skeptical of the value of your research?
  4. How would you sell the value of UX research to a Product Manager versus an Engineer?
  5. How would you motivate a team to think creatively about a problem they were stuck on?
  6. What do you do when you disagree with a stakeholder about how a particular feature should be designed?
  7. How do you tailor your findings for different audiences?

Tips for answering collaboration questions

Show your interviewer you’re a ‘people person’ with the empathy, flexibility, and leadership skills required to connect with and manage a team:

  • Have a clear process for soliciting buy-in and involving others in your work. For example, a recent discovery study on people who do research revealed common strategies for engaging stakeholders, including sharing company-wide updates, keeping research summaries and presentations concise, and anticipating and preparing for questions ahead of time.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the teams and roles you’ll be working with. As a user researcher, you may find yourself working with designers, product managers, content strategists, developers, marketers, operations managers, executives, and more. If you have a clear grasp on the pains and priorities of each of these roles and their relationship to UX research, you’ll be better positioned to collaborate with them. 
  • Show you can adapt your message for different audiences. Research is only useful when it’s used—so in order to make an impact, you’ll need to share and evangelize your findings across the company. Give your interviewer examples of times when you’ve adapted messages, deliverables, and approaches to better suit different audiences.

As a bonus, you might want to talk about the collaboration tools you enjoy using. Miro, for example, is a great tool for efficient, collaborative UX research

Other tips for nailing the UX research job interview

  • Prepare to conduct a research challenge. In later stages of the hiring process, many interviewers will give you a hypothetical scenario and ask you to come up with a research plan for solving it. Carolina Biano, Senior UX Researcher at WorldRemit, provides a framework for approaching the UX research interview challenge
  • Think about how you want to grow in the future. Even if you’re applying for an entry-level position, understanding your long-term career goals can help you determine whether or not the role is the right fit for you. (Having a sense of how you want to grow also gives you a ‘north star’ to focus on as you navigate the workplace once you land the job.) Check out this podcast with Amber Davis, UXR Director at Audible, to weigh the pros and cons of potentially moving into UXR management.
  • Have a list of questions ready. The best job interviews aren’t interviews at all—they’re conversations. Ask your interviewer questions about the role, the company, the culture, current obstacles, how research impact is tracked, and anything else you’re curious about. 
  • Rehearse your answers ahead of time. Practice makes perfect. Writing down and rehearsing your answers out loud can help you avoid many of the “ums” and “ahs” that come with off-the-cuff speaking.
  • Send a thank-you note! Be sure to thank your interviewer for their time and consideration via email or Linkedin. You might even consider sending a handwritten thank you note; it might sound a little old school, but it’s a personal touch that few other candidates will trouble with.

Good luck 🤞

Job interviews are a universally nerve-wracking experience—but the more prepared you are, the more comfortable and self-assured you’ll be. 

If you’re in need of a confidence boost before your interview, know that landing your dream job is possible; learn how 3 researchers paved their way into the industry at Mailchimp

P.S.—If this post helped you land a UXR role, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at to let me know!

Lizzy Burnam
Product Education Manager

Marketer, writer, poet. Lizzy likes hiking, people-watching, thrift shopping, learning and sharing ideas. Her happiest memory is sitting on the shore of Lake Champlain in the summer of 2020, eating a clementine.

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