Hiring UX Interns Simple Guide
You've probably done your research on hiring UX talent in Asian countries like Singapore can be a pain especially when universities don't teach the user experience or experience design in much detail.
There are all sorts of titles for UX-related job opportunities - UI/UX Designer, UX Designer, Product Design Specialist - the possibilities are endless across the 400,000 UX Design positions in the marketplace today!
How are you going to start hiring for a UX intern?
Let me break it down for you.
What Makes a Great UX Internship?
An internship is NOT cheap labour. It's a learning period for the student to learn skills that they can use later on in their lives when they do land a job.
A great UX internship experience for both supervisor and intern lies in aligning your experience with the experience your intended intern would like to learn. In my opinion, they first have to be good researchers by nature to get the most of their internship.
There's 4 basic steps when it comes to hiring an intern for your UX team.
Step 1: Define the Job Description
You're writing this for university students or graduates who would be entering the working environment for the first time. Your job description should cover:
The "Ideal Candidate"
Talk about personality, skill sets, and communication skills for example. Name the personal qualities and skills an ideal candidate should have in order to learn fast on the job.
Explain their Responsibilities on Your Team
What kind of products do your team design for which users and what role do they play on your team? You should walk them through the limitations of their responsibilities on the job and when they should seek your approval before work is passed down the line.
Highlight What They Will Learn
UI/UX design? The design process? Wireframing? Think about the skill sets they get to pick up and even platforms like Figma, and how this internship will impact their career.
Promote your team culture
This gives candidates a taste of the interaction within your team and gives them insights of what to expect when they work for the company if you have teams not just in Singapore but also outside of the country, this is where you want to shout about it!
State the must-have requirements
Their degree is an obvious requirement. Are they are able to work in Singapore? Check all the absolute musts you need so you know who to reject when you flip through their application.
All good questions to think about.
Step 2: Start Recruiting on UX-Focused Platforms
You probably won't use JobStreet as a platform in this case because it does not make sense to spend that much money to hire UX interns.
Consider free platforms like:
Social media groups
LinkedIn and Facebook have large groups of people interested in UX which consists of students, self-learners and experienced professionals like yourself who would understand the kind of talent you want and could recommend someone up for the job.
You'll find the competitive bunch in communities like this, perfect if you're looking for hard workers and strong researchers who enjoy a design challenge on the job. They also tend to target user growth as a KPI so that saves you some pain teaching them the importance of user growth.
This is a platform for people who have similar interests to meet up. You'll find plenty of UX groups here where every member is at least interested in building a good user experience and some are hunting for a job every 3-5 posts, so keep an eye out.
Universities or schools providing certifications
Some online schools or bootcamps do teach the fundamentals of UI/UX design well these days and I've personally found someone I trained up to be a product designer from an internship before.
Keep in mind that not everyone from these groups would be looking for jobs or may not be from Singapore. The beauty of these platforms is they consist people who range from product managers, front-end developers, designers - practically anyone with an interest in UX design
They will be more than willing to share your internship with their connections and potentially link you up with your next intern who would be interested in the opportunity.
Step 3: Interviewing
Typically, most companies would do:
- CV screening
- Phone screening
- Face-to-face interview
That takes too much time without testing their practical skills, so an alternative that I find works really well is this process:
- CV screening
- Face-to-face interview
- Practical design assignment
Self-explanatory - just make sure they don't list a fake degree, get a good understanding of their previous experiences or skills they learned so you know what you might get to work with to which role they could potentially fill in the team.
During the interview
Treat it like a conversation. Here's a few questions you could ask:
- What do you understand about UX design?
- Do you have any front-end UI development experience?
- Have you had the opportunity to work with clients on a freelance basis?
- Tell me about one challenge you faced, and how you overcame it?
- What sort of work would you like to do as a career?
- What did you like about our company that convinced you to send in your application?
- What is the difference between UI, UX and UI/UX design?
This stage allows you to test their theoretical understanding of the industry and job they applied for.
User Experience or UI/UX Assignment
This is where you get to assess their design skills.
We designed a simple test where candidates for the internship had to think like designers to design prototypes of actual work we've done for a client account before.
Each candidate had to perform usability testing on their work, keeping in mind that all the elements and interaction on their designs have to be focused on helping the user navigate each page as smoothly as possible.
The end product of their work gives us good insights on the functionality of their current level of work, the skills they possess and which skills we should focus on teaching them.
Based on their overall performance, we discuss the performance and provide feedback to each candidate on their work and see how they take it, because a good intern takes feedback well.
The best attitude with at least a good fundamental understanding of what a good UX is gets to start their career with us while the others had to look for other jobs.
Step 4: Onboarding
Think about all the different stakeholders this intern will deal with on a daily basis. Consider all the tools this person is going to use, and the processes your team use as well. Different companies have different workflows so even if they have done an internship with another company, brief them as if they are completely new to work anyways.
It would be a good idea to develop a checklist for them to get started. Here was ours:
- Design tools to download
- Meeting/Report templates
- Email setup guide
- Key stakeholder names they will be working with
- Our user research brief
Just cover the critical stuff with them on a call/in person, then give them the rest to read in their own time.
To sum it up in a nutshell, you know your company best and you should design the internship to be a good learning experience because your interns might one day become a valuable member of your team.
Train them like they're going to work with you in the long-term and who knows - you could find yourself creating the new powerhouse that will create impact like talent in companies like Grab do in the world of UX. If you unable to make a decision yourself, save yourself from headache and consider using a recruiting agencies service.
This post has been updated on 11th March 2022.