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The Five Biggest Red Flags In A Product Design Interviewee

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What are some red flags in interviewing a Product Design candidate? originally appeared on Quora - the knowledge sharing network where compelling questions are answered by people with unique insights.

Answer by Julie Zhuo, Product Design VP at Facebook, on Quora.

  • They don't explain their design decisions well. If you ask "why'd you decide to do Y instead of X" and don't get a thoughtful response, then either the person didn't think of alternative ideas (bad sign, points to lack of rigor or not enough creative generativity), or they did but weren't able to clearly communicate it to you (also bad sign since most designers need to work in a team environment).
  • They have low self-awareness. Low self-awareness is usually manifested to me as high-ego, not being able to give clear answers to "what could be improved about
  • They bring negative energy. Examples of this are throwing other peoplecompanies under the bus in their narrative of past experiences versus coming across as more objectively critical, coming across as chafing or abrasive where you'd be worried about them in critique or disagreements, trying too hard to appear clever/"better than everyone else" at other people's expense.
  • They don't have a track record of designing, shipping, and following through. Unless you are very early career, if you have only spent time designing cool concepts/mocks but they don't become products that real people use (or they ship, but you don't have experience working on the iterations after), I get concerned about your ability to do the hardest 20% of the work, which is learning from how something does in the real world and responding to it.
  • Their values don't align with your values. This isn't a knock on them at all. If you take the dating analogy, there could be a perfectly wonderful person you meet--kind, responsible, funny--who really values adventure (globe-trotting, extreme sports, etc) and doesn't want to have kids. And say you're a homebody who likes spending time with close friends and family, and you want three kids.
  • It probably isn't going to work out between you two, even though this person is in possession of traits that you'd imagine would make them a catch for some other lucky person out there.

    I sometimes come across designers who check all the boxes--talented, hardworking, proactive, etc--but who ultimately value different things than what we value at Facebook (making the world more open and connected and making products that have the greatest impact). It doesn't mean they're deficient in any way. It just means this fit isn't the right one for them or for us.

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