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March 29, 2022
Impress your interviewer with thoughtful answers to the most common interview questions for user research roles.
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:
In answering these questions, be sure to:
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 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:
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:
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.)
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:
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:
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:
Here are some tips for effectively demonstrating your adaptability in an interview:
Need inspiration? In this post, Mary Gribbons, Wistia’s Senior UX Research Manager, shares how she overcomes common challenges in conducting user interviews.
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:
Show your interviewer you’re a ‘people person’ with the empathy, flexibility, and leadership skills required to connect with and manage a team:
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.
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 email@example.com to let me know!
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.
Interviewing & Research Skills
September 15, 2023
Making mistakes is part of learning—and research is all about learning. Experienced UXR and Research Leader Roberta Dombrowski shares the 3 biggest mistakes she's made along the way, and the lessons she learned.