The Big List of 119 UX Interview Questions

January 4th, 2017 by lewis

UX Interview Questions & Answers

Here are our favorite UX interview questions.

  • If you’re a hiring manager, select the interview questions based on the competencies you’re evaluating.
  • If you’re a candidate, prepare and practice using this common list of UX interview questions.

UX Design Process Interview Questions

  1. How do you define UX design?
  2. What is your design process? Describe what methods you follow?
  3. What is visual hierarchy?
  4. Can you speak to the difference between information architecture, interaction design, usability and user research?
  5. How do you get into the mindset of a user and anticipate their needs and actions?
  6. Describe to us a basic user experience process. Would that process be different depending on the type of project, for instance responsive website versus mobile app?
  7. How do you know that what you’re designing works for the user? Tell us a bit about personas and your approach to research and incorporating research in your work?
  8. What are the basic philosophies or principles that inform your designs
  9. How do you incorporate usability into the design and testing process?
  10. How do you balance business needs and technical restrictions with good design?
  11. Do you have a technical/data-influenced background?
  12. What tools and applications do you use?
  13. What is the most important thing on a page/wireframe? Why?
  14. Do you specialize in wireframing and functionality design, or graphic design? Which do you prefer?
  15. When an engineer says, “Hey, I don’t like this design”, what do you do?
  16. What are the advantages and disadvantages of following a web style guide?
  17. Can you explain the process behind each (or a specific) design piece in your portfolio? What research or testing did you do to validate your design decision?
  18. What are your favorite apps? Why?
  19. What is your approach to making websites and platforms accessible to all user groups, including users with visual, hearing, and motor disabilities?
  20. What would you say will be the next big trend in the UX Design industry?
  21. What design trend can you not stand? Why?

UX Research Process Interview Questions

  1. What attracts you to research?
  2. What is your experience with qualitative research methods? (ethnography, focus groups/group discussions, one-on-one interviewing, contextual inquiry, observational research, etc.)
  3. Since your experience is primarily in qualitative methods, how do you feel about quantitative research?
  4. What skill do you possess that you think you do better than 99.9% of the entire population?
  5. What do you excel at (your superpower) and what can you improve on (your kryptonite)?
  6. What is your research process?
  7. How do you choose which method(s) you’re going to use for particular projects?
  8. Which methods and approaches do you think are the most useful or effective?
  9. What is the value of doing contextual research over facility-based research (e.g., focus groups, interviews)?
  10. How do you incorporate theory into your research?
  11. What are your favorite social science theories?
  12. How do you approach qualitative data analysis?
  13. What tools do you typically use for analysis? (e.g., affinity mapping, coding, Excel, etc.)
  14. How do you analyze ethnographic data?
  15. Have you used any qualitative data analysis software?
  16. At what point in the design process should user experience come into play?
  17. Talk about a time when you had to change your plan or approach.
  18. Our company hires heavily from our own user base. How would you balance the perspectives of internal users versus external users?
  19. What is your experience working in Agile environments?
  20. Have you ever used a Lean approach in your research?
  21. How do you visualize data?
  22. How do you visualize results for designers and developers?
  23. Give me an example of a project you worked on for which you had to translate research data into insights.
  24. Do you have experience with videography or video deliverables?
  25. How would you sell the value of User Experience research to a VP of Product versus a VP of engineering?

UX Technical Skills Interview Questions

  1. Show me a design example where you set out to solve a business problem.
  2. How do you balance design aesthetic with revenue-generating activities on a website?
  3. How do you balance the goals of the end user with those of the business.
  4. What kind of data have you used to validate a design?
  5. Have you created personas before? How did they help you?
  6. Do you have any experience with e-commerce?
  7. Do you have experience with mobile software or hardware?
  8. What is your experience working with web analytics?
  9. How would you do a competitive analysis of two websites?
  10. How would you measure the success of a launched product?
  11. What would you consider a UX Design failure on the newly launched project?
  12. What questions do you need answered before you start designing an experience?
  13. How do you estimate the timeline of your own design process?
  14. You’re under a tight deadline and not all features in the project scope can be met in time. How would you decide which features to keep and which to cut?
  15. What is a recent project that you were challenged by, and tell us how you approached the problem?
  16. You want to redesign some part of a website but the client says they don’t want to spend the time or money to make the changes. What would you say?
  17. How do you stay current on UX innovations?
  18. Given a situation where there’s not enough time to research, what do you do?
  19. What would you do differently if you had more time for research?
  20. What is an instance where you delivered something exceptional, made you really proud of the result?

UX Commercial Application Interview Questions

  1. How would you design an interface for an elevator in a 1000-floor building?
  2. How would you design an ATM?
  3. How would you design a microwave?
  4. Can you estimate how many traffic lights there are in the United States?
  5. Imagine we’re designing a kiosk at a transit stop. Its purpose is to let regular commuters refill their transit cards. We have an engineer coming in 20 minutes and he needs a spec. How would you explain how the kiosks works in that time? Solution
  6. How would you describe the Internet to someone who just woke up from a 30-year coma? Solution
  7. What are the advantages and disadvantages of contextual inquiry/field studies when designing an application or website?
  8. How would you walk me through a brief analysis of our home page?
  9. What is an example of a site you think has bad user experience? Why?
  10. What are 3 examples of online products that have a great user experience?
  11. If you had the power to change one feature for a website or application, what would you change?
  12. What do you think makes a great UX designer vs. an average one? What makes you a great UX designer?
  13. What are your thoughts on designing the user experience of a startup vs. a more established brand?
  14. Are you familiar with the idea of a minimum viable product (MVP)?
  15. Is UX only for huge agencies and global brands or can the little guys & gals get involved?
  16. Why should business owners and/or marketing people care about UX?
  17. Now let’s say that after 6 months, there is no jump in sales. What is at fault? Normally, sales and/or marketing gets blamed for having the wrong message, appealing to the wrong audience, not enough of this, too much of that. What if the reason for flat-lined sales had to do with user experience?
  18. What’s the best way for UX and Marketing teams to work together
  19. What’s the downside to omitting UX from the discussion?
  20. Does your UX end once the website or app launch?
  21. Is UX work expensive?
  22. Does it make sense when people say something like “Looking for a UI/UX designer”?

UX Culture Fit Interview Questions

  1. How do you advocate for usability in your organization?
  2. What would be the most difficult personality for a coworker to have? How would you deal with this?
  3. What would be the most difficult type of client to work with? How would you deal with this?
  4. Have you ever faced a situation in which your feedback/recommendation was not taken? How did you handle the situation?
  5. How do you form positive relationships with teammates or stakeholders?
  6. How do you work with others?
  7. What best practices do you use when working with engineers?
  8. How do you approach working with designers?
  9. How do you approach working with developers?
  10. How have you provided guidance to your clients in the scoping of projects?
  11. How do you deal with stakeholders (e.g., marketers) with really strong perspectives?
  12. What do you do when a stakeholder disagrees with the results of your research?
  13. What is your experience working with people who are unfamiliar with User-Centered Design?
  14. Have you played more of a lead or support role on projects?
  15. What phases of research were you most often involved with?
  16. Have you worked with recruiters?
  17. What is your experience with project management?
  18. What is your experience with project scoping?
  19. Have you managed external research vendors?
  20. What is your ideal work day as a UX designer?
  21. Where do you see yourself in 5–10 years?
  22. How have you previously worked with product managers and engineers?
  23. What are you looking for when it comes to a workplace?
  24. How do you feel about working for a small agency versus a large corporation?
  25. Can you describe a time when the requirements changed in the middle of a project, and how you handled that?
  26. What’s your biggest pet peeve when engaging on a UX project?
  27. Have you worked in a Lean or Agile process before? How so?
  28. Do you have a side project you’d like to talk to us about?
  29. What books/exhibitions/conferences or communities do you attend or admire?
  30. Where do you go for inspiration?
  31. How do you keep on top of current design trends?

Photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg

Product Manager Interview Questions

SEE ALSO: Product Manager Interview Questions & Answers

Here are our favorite product manager interview questions.

Product Manager Technical Background Interview Questions

  1. Why did you decide to move from engineering to product management?
  2. What is the biggest advantage of having a technical background?
  3. What is the biggest disadvantage?
  4. What was the biggest lesson you learned when you moved from engineering to product management?
  5. What do you wish you’d known when you were an engineer?
  6. How do you earn the respect of the engineering team?

Product Manager Design Interview Questions

  1. Tell me about your product design process and experience?
  2. Have you worked with UX/UI Designers and how so?
  3. A product is ready to ship, but the UX Designer doesn’t approve of shipping because of an UX issue, what do you do?
  4. How do you know when a design is “done”?
  5. Analyze the UX/UI of our product, how would you improve it?
  6. What are pitfalls of being too reliant on hard data in product design?

Product Manager Operations Interview Questions

  1. What software development methods have you used?
  2. How did you work with your engineers in your current or previous role?
  3. What’s a cool innovative technology or product that you’ve seen recently and why?
  4. What do you want to build here and why?
  5. Tell me about that time when you’ve hit a sticking point with your engineering team. What was it and how did you work through it
  6. Where do you think the industry is going? Is it ripe for disruption?
  7. What’s the competitive landscape and revenue model? What’s the value chain?
  8. Can the company position itself for success and what does that mean for the product?
  9. We’re thinking about expanding into XYZ business, should we?Tell me about a great product you’ve encountered recently. Why do you like it? [By the way, it drives me crazy when candidates name one of my products in an interview. I had a hard time hiring anybody at Yahoo! who told me the coolest product they’d come across recently was Yahoo! Good grief.]
  10. What made our product successful?
  11. What do you dislike about my product? How would you improve it?
  12. What problems are we going to encounter in a year? Two years? Ten years?
  13. How do you know a product is well designed?
  14. What’s one of the best ideas you’ve ever had?
  15. What is one of the worst?
  16. How do you know when to cut corners to get a product out the door?
  17. What lessons have you learned about user interface design?
  18. How do you decide what not to build?
  19. What was your biggest product mistake?
  20. What aspects of product management do you find the least interesting and why?
  21. Do you consider yourself creative?

Product Manager Metrics/Pricing Interview Questions

  1. When have you used massive amounts of data to drive a decision?
  2. How would you price a product of ours?
  3. Your sales and marketing team came to you with a feature request, build it and a deal gets done, what do you do?
  4. Tell me about a business or product metric that you were responsible for and how you went about attaining it.
  5. How would you determine the price for piece of wearable technology?

Product Manager Strategy Interview Questions

  1. What is the most efficient way to sort a million integers?
  2. How would you build a website for blind people?
  3. How would you re-position a company’s offerings to counteract competitive threats?
  4. How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
  5. How many bottles of shampoo are produced in the world a year? Solution
  6. You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
  7. How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?
  8. How would you find out if a machine’s stack grows up or down in memory?
  9. Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.
  10. How many times a day does a clock’s hands overlap?
  11. You have to get from point A to point B. You don’t know if you can get there. What would you do?
  12. Imagine you have a closet full of shirts. It’s very hard to find a shirt. So what can you do to organize your shirts for easy retrieval?
  13. You have 15 horses that run various speeds. You own a race track on which you can race the horses, and this track holds a maximum of 5 horses per race. If you have no stopwatch or other means of telling exactly how fast the horses are, how many races would you need to run between the horses to be ABSOLUTELY SURE which horses are first, second, and third fastest? Solution
  14. Every man in a village of 100 married couples has cheated on his wife. Every wife in the village instantly knows when a man other than her husband has cheated, but does not know when her own husband has. The village has a law that does not allow for adultery. Any wife who can prove that her husband is unfaithful must kill him that very day. The women of the village would never disobey this law. One day, the queen of the village visits and announces that at least one husband has been unfaithful. What happens?
  15. In a country in which people only want boys, every family continues to have children until they have a boy. If they have a girl, they have another child. If they have a boy, they stop. What is the proportion of boys to girls in the country?
  16. If the probability of observing a car in 30 minutes on a highway is 0.95, what is the probability of observing a car in 10 minutes (assuming constant default probability)?
  17. If you look at a clock and the time is 3:15, what is the angle between the hour and the minute hands? (The answer to this is not zero!)
  18. Four people need to cross a rickety rope bridge to get back to their camp at night. Unfortunately, they only have one flashlight and it only has enough light left for seventeen minutes. The bridge is too dangerous to cross without a flashlight, and it’s only strong enough to support two people at any given time. Each of the campers walks at a different speed. One can cross the bridge in 1 minute, another in 2 minutes, the third in 5 minutes, and the slow poke takes 10 minutes to cross. How do the campers make it across in 17 minutes?
  19. You are at a party with a friend and 10 people are present including you and the friend. your friend makes you a wager that for every person you find that has the same birthday as you, you get $1; for every person he finds that does not have the same birthday as you, he gets $2. would you accept the wager?
  20. How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?
  21. You have eight balls all of the same size. 7 of them weigh the same, and one of them weighs slightly more. How can you find the ball that is heavier by using a balance and only two weighings?
  22. You have five pirates, ranked from 5 to 1 in descending order. The top pirate has the right to propose how 100 gold coins should be divided among them. But the others get to vote on his plan, and if fewer than half agree with him, he gets killed. How should he allocate the gold in order to maximize his share but live to enjoy it? (Hint: One pirate ends up with 98 percent of the gold.)
  23. You are given 2 eggs. You have access to a 100-story building. Eggs can be very hard or very fragile means it may break if dropped from the first floor or may not even break if dropped from 100th floor. Both eggs are identical. You need to figure out the highest floor of a 100-story building an egg can be dropped without breaking. The question is how many drops you need to make. You are allowed to break 2 eggs in the process.
  24. Describe a technical problem you had and how you solved it.
  25. How would you design a simple search engine?
  26. Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco.
  27. There’s a latency problem in South Africa. Diagnose it.
  28. What are three long term challenges facing Google?
  29. Name three non-Google websites that you visit often and like. What do you like about the user interface and design? Choose one of the three sites and comment on what new feature or project you would work on. How would you design it?
  30. If there is only one elevator in the building, how would you change the design? How about if there are only two elevators in the building?
  31. How many vacuum’s are made per year in USA?

Product Manager Leadership Questions

  1. Is consensus always a good thing?
  2. What’s the difference between management and leadership?
  3. What kinds of people do you like to work with?
  4. What types of people have you found it difficult to work with?
  5. Tell me about a time when a team didn’t gel. Why do you think that happened, and what have you learned?
  6. How do you get a team to commit to a schedule?
  7. What would somebody do to lose your confidence?
  8. Do you manage people from different functions differently? If so, how?
  9. What have you learned about saying no?
  10. Who has the ultimate accountability for shipping a product?
  11. Have you ever been in a situation where your team has let you down and you’ve had to take the blame?
  12. How has your tolerance for mistakes changed over the years?
  13. Which do you like first, the good news or the bad news?
  14. What’s your approach to hiring?
  15. How have you learned to work with sales?
  16. What is the best way to interface with customers?
  17. What makes marketing tick?
  18. How do you know when design is on the right track?
  19. How should a product manager support business development?
  20. What have you learned about managing up?
  21. What’s the best way to work with the executives?

SEE ALSO: Product Manager Interview Questions & Answers



Source: Ryan Allis

Here’s a blank career plan template you can use to achieve career success. Read on for how to fill it out. And at the end of the article, I’ve included a filled out example.

Life purpose

To help you determine your life purpose, think back on the projects you’ve completed in your career. What are the moments where you felt happiest? Perhaps it was when you were:

  • Leading a team
  • Inspiring others
  • Completing a complicated task
  • Working on a cause that’s bigger than yourself

Through introspection and asking yourself that question, you might find out what makes you happy and what you want to achieve in your life. And another way to assess your life purpose. An easy-way to take a personality test is to fill out the questionnaires and diagnostic tests in Ingrid Stabb’s book, The Career Within You.

Success metrics

Given that life goal, how can you measure success? Is it the number of projects completed? Or perhaps leading a team of a certain size?

Action plan

How would you get to your desired goal? What are the milestones and intermediate steps that you would need to get there?

Desired way of being

This is just a fancy term to described the emotions you want to feel when you hit your life objective. Some potssible emotions can include:

  • Satisfied
  • Thrilled
  • Content
  • Excited
  • Happy

Lifetime, 10 year, 1 year, and 90 day goals

This is your opportunity to be specific about what you want to achieve.

Think about the acronym SMART. That is, are you outline goals that are specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, and time-bound?

Another thing to consider: are you short-term goals eventually helping you achieve your long-term goals? They should be connected.


Setting goals won’t matter if you don’t deliver! Scientific studies show that you’re more likely to follow through your commitments if you sign and date your goals. So don’t forget that symbolic step. It works!

Career Plan Example

Source: Ryan Allis

Market Sizing Numbers to Know

January 4th, 2017 by lewis

SEE ALSO: Market Sizing Techniques and Practice Problems

For market sizing interview questions, you’ll be more effective if you memorized a list of common assumptions. It’ll save you from asking the interviewer for basic assumptions. Candidates that ask for simple assumptions such as “What’s the US population?” will come across as unprepared.

To make it easier for you, I’ve included both the image form (that you can print) as well as text form (that you can cut-and-paste into a cheat sheet).

Market Sizing Numbers to Know

Market Sizing Numbers to Know from the book Interview Math: 50+ Problems and Solutions for Quant Case Interviews

Source: Interview Math: 50+ Problems and Solutions for Quant Case Interviews

Population Assumptions for the United States

United States 319M
New York City 8.4M
Los Angeles 3.9M
Chicago 2.7M
San Francisco 806K
Seattle 687K

Population Assumptions for Outside the United States

World 7.4B
Europe 739M
Asia 4.4B
South America 423M
Africa 1.2B
China 1.4B
India 1.3B
Japan 126M
UK 65M

Other Useful Assumptions for the United States

Life Expectancy 80 years
People per Household 2.5 people
Median Household Income $53K
GDP $16.8 T
GDP Growth Rate 2%
Corporate Tax Rate 35%
Smartphone Penetration 70%
Percent with Bachelor’s Degree 30%
Percent Married Adults 52%
Percent Under the Age of 18 23%
Percent Over the Age of 65 13%

SEE ALSO: Market Sizing Approaches and Practice Problems

13 Killer Video Interview Tips

December 21st, 2016 by lewis

video interview

Have an upcoming video interview? You might be nervous if you’ve never used video interviewing software before.

Have no fear. Read these tips, and you’ll feel confident, relaxed, and ready to ace your upcoming video interview.

lewis lin's impact interview

Dress Appropriately

Just because you’re interviewing from home doesn’t mean you can dress casually. Dress as you normally would for an in-person interview.

lewis lin's impact interview

Examine the Lighting

Aim for soft lighting in front of you. You can open the curtains or turn on a lamp. Avoid lighting behind you; it’ll cast a strong shadow.

lewis lin's interview coaching services

Check the Microphone

If the sound is not clear when using your computer’s default microphone, consider plugging in a dedicated microphone for higher sound quality.

best interview coaching

Wear Bright Colors

Bright colored clothes provide appropriate contrast on camera. Stay away from lighter colors, which can get appear washed out on video.

top interview coaching

Make Eye Contact with the Camera

If you look at your own image, it’ll look like you are looking down. A downward gaze is a submissive gaze. That’s the opposite of what we’re shooing for: a confident candidate. Instead, look at the camera, not the screen. Imagine your webcam is the individual that is talking to you.


Maintain good posture. A solid office chair may help. It’s easy to record from a couch and lean back. Do so and the interviewer may perceive you as not interested in the job.

interview coach

Be Aware of the Background

Distracting backgrounds, such as moving people, a cluttered room, or an unfinished garage wall, can take the focus away from you, the candidate.

Check Your Internet Connection

Make sure your Internet connection is working and reliable. Last thing you’d want happening is to lose a carefully crafted video interview to poor Internet reception.


Schedule a mock interview with a friend. Practice both your interview skills as well as recording in front of a webcam.

Have a Conversation

Interviewers don’t like to hire those who are nervous and anxious. Pretend you’re having a conversation. If you’re relaxed, you’ll be more likable. And hiring managers hire those that they like.

Consider Timing

Most video interview questions have a time limit. If your response is too short, the interviewer will perceive you as not having much to say. If your response is too long, the interviewer will think your communication skills are lacking.

Be Poised

Individuals who can showcase their actual identity while maintaining professionalism are typically chosen for another interview.

interview coach services

Do your Homework

Don’t scramble to figure out what kind of questions to ask at the end of the interview. Ask two or three questions concerning something you can’t research on your own.

Photo credit: Tom Eversley, Harry Wood, Mike McCune, bgilliard

Our friends at Ziggeo put together an amazing YouTube video on how to make a great video interview, using your webcam or phone. Here are my favorite tips from the video:

  • Check your lighting, recording during the day if possible
  • Wear solid colors
  • Elevate your camera to eye level
  • Practice before recording
  • Be careful about background noise, including noisy jewelry

Crush those video interviews!

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The 10 Best Video Interviewing Questions

December 17th, 2016 by lewis

best video interview questions

By Alan Magelssen and Lewis Lin

Recorded video interviews are becoming more popular, primarily because video interviews are:

  1. More effective in saving time for both for candidates and interviewers
  2. More convenient for candidates and interviewers, especially since responses can be recorded anywhere, anytime
  3. Easier to share and get a second opinion with co-workers

The big challenge with recorded video interviews is that it’s a one-way broadcast. In other words, unlike a face-to-face interview, you can’t ask clarifying questions.

Given this difference, it’s important to ask the right questions that can reveal who the candidate is and what the candidate can offer, without the need for clarifying questions.

We’ve compiled a list of the 10 most effective video interview questions. Try these with your favorite video interview platform, and you’ll be glad that you didn’t settle for just a resume in your applicant process.

1. Why should we hire you?

This is one of the best video interview questions because it asks the interviewee to describe what sets them apart from all the others. This question also gives the organization a clear picture of what the candidate feels their strongest qualities are in relation to this position.

Whether you choose to ask this question up front or save it for later, we recommend using it in every interview. It can be a great question to start with when you are sharing recorded candidate responses within your team.

2. From everything you’ve learned about our organization, tell me how you feel you’d make a contribution?

This is a great question because it immediately lets your team know three things:

  1. Has this person done their homework?
  2. Does he or she seem enthusiastic about the role?
  3. Is he or she ready to make an impact on day one?

The best candidates will shine in all three aspects of this question, giving you a good idea of who to focus on for the job.

3. If you could start your career over again, what would you do differently?

Prompting the candidate to describe some of their good or bad past decisions can be a great way to gauge their thought process when it comes to career decisions. Does this person have the commitment and/or experience necessary to thrive in this position? How has his or her attitude changed with experience?

4. When I contact your last supervisor and ask which areas are your greatest strength, what will they say?

Getting to know your candidate’s strengths and weaknesses is an important part of the evaluation process. This is an effective method for getting to know your candidate’s strengths by having them explain their previous experience from the point of view of a coworker or boss.

Double checking with the candidate’s references is always a great idea for those that make it to the next round.

5. When I contact your last supervisor and ask which areas of work need the most improvement, what will they tell me?

Similar to the last question, this is an excellent question because it will provide an honest assessment of the candidate’s weaknesses. As with the last question, you can always check the candidate’s references for more detail.

6. Tell me about what motivates you?

Simple and straightforward, this is one of our top ten questions to ask because it gets to what is beyond the resume and lets the candidate share that with you directly.

7. What was the last thing you learned from working with others?

If you are looking for someone can work well with your team, ask them what they have learned from others in their career. This question not only gives you an idea of their teamwork abilities, but also can also lead to illuminating insights into their personality.

8. Tell me about the toughest negotiation you’ve ever been in?

Most positions will involve negotiation whether it’s with customers, co-workers, and yes, the boss. This question is important to see how the candidate weighed a particular decision, how the candidate assessed the outcomes of that decision, and whether or not the candidate was successful in negotiating an agreement.

9. Describe a time when you had a disagreement with a coworker, how did the issue get resolved?

Asking this question is important to see how candidates deal with conflict-resolution in the workplace. Not only is the fit to team culture important, but also how all your candidates deal with problems when they arise.

10. Where do you see yourself in five years?

Finally, what long term goals is your candidate focused on? Does the candidate have a plan for the next few years? This is important because it can tell your team whether your candidate’s goals are aligned with what he or she will be asked to do in the new position.

Photo credit: Dion Hinchcliffe

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5 GitHub Stats Hiring Managers Look For

December 13th, 2016 by lewis

github logo


“When it comes to hiring, I’ll take a GitHub commit log over a resume any day.” — John Resig, creator of jQuery library

How do software companies and startups use GitHub to hire developers? According to a study at Carnegie Mellon University, employers looked for ‘activity signals’ that inferred passion for coding and a certain level of technical competency. Recruiters also evaluated soft skills, like project management and team collaboration, from user interactions with the open-source (OS) community. So how do you navigate through all those projects, requests, and commits? Start by looking for these five categories when reviewing (or creating) a GitHub profile:

1. Active Participation in OS Projects

“If they’ve devoted time to this OS project, that’s a good indicator that they’re in [computer science] for the right reasons…They’re doing something because they want to give back to their community.”

GitHub is the largest social coding website in the world, with more than 12 million users and 31 million repositories. The site allows developers to share their own OS projects and contribute to the code of other projects. Each developer profile also has a log of user activity that includes project contributions, original (“sourced) and copied (“forked”) repositories, and number of followers.


A majority of employers valued users who had committed to an OS project since “active involvement in the open source community was a signal of the candidate’s selflessness and honesty.” Recent and frequent contributions to public projects were favored, while hosting forked repositories were not. Employers reported this signal as one of the most reliable indicators when assessing collaboration skills and potential fit in the company.

2. Contributions Accepted to High Status Projects

“Seeing that he had commits to jQuery, was filing tickets with jQuery, and I know that’s a prestigious project to work on…Just by looking at his code, if nothing else seeing that it was being merged downstream into jQuery, I recognized that has demonstrated some level of proficiency”

GitHub profiles were also reviewed to determine the technical skills of candidates. Accepted contributions to reputable projects were highly regarded since they inferred a ‘seal of approval’ or referral from experienced developers in the community. It is important to note that ‘high status’ projects were based on each employer’s knowledge of the GitHub community and not on the number of project followers (“watchers”).

github commits example

Employers favored this indicator since “pull requests” and “commits” to third-party projects validated a candidate’s skills and reduced the need for additional assessments. Committing to a particular project also highlighted a developer’s coding expertise and indicated proficiency in a programming language.

3. Project Ownership

“I don’t think you can use it as a sole way to judge someone…But if something is up there, it’s definitely a huge plus and probably one of the first things we look for — are they sharing their source code?”

The ability to start a project and manage the project’s community was also a evaluated by employers. Project ownership required “setting design direction, managing incoming code contributions and patches, and interacting with potential collaborators.”

github project collaboration example

Employers determined that a GitHub profile with successful projects inferred skills in project management. In addition to technical skills, project ownership also highlighted long-term design capabilities and collaboration styles.

4. Side Projects

“A lot of us spend our weekends working on [project name] so we want to work with people who are motivated to not just work on the code they’ve been assigned but to work on projects outside their job. It just shows a general excitement for the space and that’s what we want to find — people that are really engaged”

Employers also categorized projects into work-related repositories and non-work related side projects. Side projects inferred a genuine passion for software development and potential for success in the company.

github side projects example

Employers viewed a candidate’s willingness to code during their free time as a commitment to learning and career development, as well as an indicator of company culture fit. Developers who exhibited enthusiasm for coding through side projects were also deemed more likely to “show initiative and entrepreneurship in their work.”

5. Number of watchers and forks of projects

“You can see if a lot of people have watched and forked and that’s a good thing, but it kind of depends on how good a marketer that person was as well on GitHub.”

Some employers assessed the popularity of a candidate’s repository by noting the total number of watchers and forks. However, a majority of employers deemed the signal as too unreliable since self-promotion could be used to ‘game’ the system.


Instead of relying on the number of watchers or forks, employers evaluated the code of a project that had the most commits. From this code, the employer could infer the developer’s technical proficiency and design approach.

The study concluded that employers valued easily verifiable and reliable measures on a GitHub profile, such as frequency of user activity and project ownership. Reliable signals that were harder to interpret, like quality of code and side projects, were not always preferred due to time and assessment constraints.

Sourcing a candidate always requires significant investment from a hiring manager, and finding a great developer is no different. We hope that this intro guide will help you find the best candidate when looking to fill that important developer role.


Marlow, J., & Dabbish, L. Activity traces and signals in software developer recruitment and hiring. In Proc. CSCW, (2013), 145–156.

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What Color Is Your Parachute: Book Summary

December 12th, 2016 by lewis

what color is parachute book

If you are looking for a job in this market, you must check out What Color Is Your Parachute? 2017: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. The world’s most popular guidebook on job-hunting has been in print since 1970 and gets updated every year with great information. We have provided a summary consisting of direct quotes and citations from the book.

Chapter 1: It’s a Whole New World for Job-Hunters

On average, employers want to only interview 5.4 candidates. Getting that stack of 118 to 250 down to 5.4 is the employer’s first preoccupation.

In today’s world, he or she who gets hired is not necessarily the one who can do that job best; but, the one who knows the most about how to get hired.

Go after any organization that interests you, whether or not they are known to have a vacancy.

Go after small companies (with 25, 50, or 100 employees at most). These are the best ones for a job-hunter or career-changer to approach, especially job-hunters with handicaps, or older job-hunters, or returning vets.

Cheer up! Yes, it is a brand new job-hunting world out there. But you are not powerless, up against vast forces you cannot control. You control this one thing above all else: how you search.

Chapter 2: Google Is Your New Resume

Almost all (91%) of U.S. employers have visited a job hunter’s profile on social networks, and more than 69% of employers have rejected some applicants on the basis of what they found.

Sometimes — 68% of the time, as it turns out — an employer will offer someone a job because they liked what Google turned up about them.

Most importantly, be sure to keep each profile up-to-date…Week by week, or at the least, month by month.

I mentioned LinkedIn; be sure to get on it, if you’re not already. It’s the site of first resort when some employer is curious about you. Expand your presence on the Internet. How to do this? Several ways: Forums, Blogs, Twitter, and Video.

A Starter Kit for Writing Your Resume: Volunteer, Community, and Unpaid Work; Educational; Sales or Account Management; Administration, Customer Service, and Accounts; Responsibility; Events or Conference Planning or Logistical Management; Computers; Mechanical; Building, Construction, Electrical, and Plumbing; General; Positive Feedback; Memberships; Published or Presented Work; Looking Ahead.

Now, many employers prefer a cover letter instead of your resume. That brief cover letter can summarize all that a longer resume might have covered. Another alternative to a classic resume is a Job or Career Portfolio.

If you’re blanketing the Internet with that resume, be cautious about including any stuff on the resume that would help someone find out where you live or work.

Chapter 3: There Are Over Eight Million Vacancies Available Each Month

Job-hunting is all about human nature, and in its essence is most like another human activity that we call dating. Both shake down to: “Do you like me?” and “Do I like you?”

You are not powerless during the job-hunt. Maybe the employer has an overwhelming amount of power in the whole job-hunt. But the employer does not hold all the cards.

Job-hunting is, or should be, a full-time job. If your job-hunt isn’t working, you must increase the amount of time you’re devoting to your job-hunt.

Chapter 4: Sixteen Tips About Interviewing for a Job

Keep in mind that the interview may not be face to face: 63% of companies now report that they sometimes do video interviews.

Find out everything you can about them. Google them. Go to their website if they have one, and read everything there that is hidden under the heading “About Us.”

If it was you who asked for the interview, not them, remove their dread of this visit by specifying how much time you are asking of them.

You don’t begin an interview by — as experts would have it — “marketing yourself.” Only when you are weighing the question “Do I want to work here?” and have concluded “Yes,” or “I think so,” do you then turn your energy toward marketing yourself.

It’s the small things that are the killers, in a job interview: Your appearance and personal habits, nervous mannerisms, lack of self-confidence, the consideration you show to other people, your values.

Try to think of some way to bring evidence of your skills, to the hiring-interview. For example, if you are an artist, a craftsperson, or anyone who produces a product, try to bring a sample of what you have made or produced.

Do not bad-mouth your previous employer(s) during the interview, even if they were terrible people.

In an interview for hire, talk half the time, let the employer talk half the time… Let the length of your answer to an employer’s questions be between 20 seconds and 2 minutes at most.

Always, always, always ask for the job at the end of an interview, assuming you decided you want to work there.

If you want to stand out from the others applying for the same job, send thank-you letters — to everyone you met there, that day.

Chapter 5: The Six Secrets of Salary Negotiation

For now, let me hammer home this first Secret: it is in your best interest to not discuss salary… Not until you’ve decided, “I really would like to work here.”… Not until they’ve conveyed the feeling, “We’ve got to have you.”

A range between the lowest they’re hoping to pay, vs. the highest they can afford to pay. And that range is what the negotiation is all about.

Where salary negotiation has been successfully kept offstage for much of the interview process, when it finally does come up, you want the employer to be the first one to mention a figure, if you possibly can.

How do you tell whether the figure the employer first offers you is only their starting bid, or is their final offer? The answer is: by doing some research on the field and that organization, before you ever go in for an interview.

It will help a lot during this discussion, if you are prepared to show in what ways you will make money or in what ways you will save money for that organization, such as would justify precisely this higher salary you are asking for.

So, before you walk into an interview you should decide what benefits are particularly important to you. And then, after the basic salary discussion is settled, you can go on to ask them what benefits they offer there.

Get it all in writing. And signed. It’s called a letter of agreement — or employment contract.

Chapter 6: What to Do When Your Job-Hunt Just Isn’t Working

With the second way to hunt for work — let’s call it The Parachute Way (everybody does, except me) — you begin with yourself instead of the job-market.

Looking for employers’ job-postings on the Internet…works on average just 4% of the time.

If you’re a union member, particularly in the trades or construction, and you have access to a union hiring hall, this method will find you work, up to 22% of the time.

Asking for job-leads. This method works 33% of the time.

Knocking on the door of any employer, office, or manufacturing plant…works 47% of the time.

Using the Yellow Pages. This method works 65% of the time… You call them, set up an appointment, go visit them, and explore whether or not they are hiring for the kind of work you do, or the position you are looking for.

The Parachute Approach. This method, faithfully followed, step by step, works 86% of the time… It begins by your doing an inventory of what you love to do. Next chapter.

Chapter 7: You Need to Understand More Fully Who You Are

GATHER. Put everything you know about yourself on one piece of paper. ORGANIZE. Put some kind of graphic on that piece of paper, in order to organize the information about yourself. PRIORITIZE. Prioritize all this information, when you have finished organizing it.

This flower has seven petals (including the center). That’s because there are seven sides to You, or seven ways of thinking about yourself, or seven ways of describing who you are: My Favorite Knowledges or Fields of Interest; My Preferred Kinds of People to Work with; What I Can Do and Love to Do (My Favorite Transferable Skills); My Favorite Working Conditions; My Preferred Salary and Level of Responsibility; My Preferred Place to Live; My Goal, Purpose, or Mission in Life.

Maintaining clarity, learning agility, and identifying development plans have become elevated to new and critical importance, if we are to maintain choice. As a result I’ve added the following four emphases to “Rich’s Flower”: Have, do, learn, and give.

Chapter 8: You Get to Choose Where You Work

First, You Need to Find Out What Careers or Jobs Your Flower Points To: If possible, you or they must combine two or three of your knowledges (fields) into one specialty: that’s what can make you unique, with very little competition from others.

Second, You Need to Try on Careers Before You Decide Which Ones to Pursue: So you need to go talk to people who are already doing the kind of job or career that you’re thinking about.

Third, You Need to Find Out What Kinds of Organizations Have Such Jobs: Before you think of individual places where you might like to work, it is helpful to stop and think of all the kinds of places where one might get hired.

Fourth, You Need to Find Names of Particular Places That Interest You: For a successful job-hunt you should choose places based on your interest in them, and not wait for them to open up a vacancy.

Fifth, You Need to Learn as Much as You Can About a Place Before Formally Approaching Them: What kind of work they do there. Their style of working. Their so-called corporate culture. And what kinds of goals they are trying to achieve, what obstacles or challenges they are running into, and how your skills and knowledges can help them… Secondly, you want to find out if you would enjoy working there.

A Final Word, Contacts: I call such a contact a “Bridge-Person.” What I mean by that title, is that they know you; and they know them (your target), and thus bridge the gap between you and a job there.

Chapter 9: How to Deal with Any Handicaps You Have

You can only have a handicap will keep some employers from hiring you. No matter what handicap you have, or think you have, it cannot possibly keep you from getting hired anywhere in the world.

An alternative way of dealing with a dream killer is to search for jobs similar to the one you hunger to do, but can’t.

On the other hand, a prejudice is a phantom handicap. It may raise its ugly head in one particular interview or more, but if you keep on going, find the right employer, then poof! the so called prejudice vanishes.

During the whole job hunt, what’s going to torpedo you most? What handicap is king? Well, shyness is near the top of the list.

“The PIE Method,”…has helped thousands of job-hunters and career-changers all around the world with their shyness and with their job-hunt.

Chapter 10: The Five Ways to Choose/Change Careers

Internet: Naturally, there is lots of advice there, but more specifically there is O*Net Online…It is a digital online treasure house of information, and up-to-date information at that, about careers.

Tests: In taking a test, you should just be looking for clues, hunches,or suggestions, rather than for a definitive answer that says “this is what you must choose to do with your life.”

Using the Flower Exercise: Look at your past, break that experience down into its most basic “atoms” (namely, skills), then build a new career for the future from your favorite “atoms,” retracing your steps from the bottom up, in the exact opposite direction.

Changing a Career in Two Steps: By doing career-change in two steps, each time you make a move you are able to legitimately claim that you’ve had prior experience.

Chapter 11: How to Start Your Own Business

Write: Ultimately, what you decide to do should flow from who you are. When done, look at your whole Flower Diagram and see if any or all of the petals gives you an idea for your own business.

Read: Now, what you want to do next is read up on all the virtues and perils of running your own business. Look before you leap!

Explore: You must find out what skills, knowledge, or experience it takes to make this kind of business idea work, by interviewing several business owners. Back home you sit down and inventory your own skills, knowledge, and experience… And you must then go out and hire or co-opt a friend or mate or volunteer who has those skills you are lacking.

Get Feedback: There is a self-examination type questionnaire that you can fill out, at Working Solo. It encourages you to ask yourself the hard questions. If you have a spouse or partner, tell them what you’re up to, find out what their opinion is, explore whether this is going to require sacrifices from them (not just you), and how they feel about that… Love demands it!

Have a plan B, laid out, before you start, as to what you will do if it doesn’t work out; i.e., know where you are going to go, next…Write it out, now: This is what I’m going to do, if this doesn’t work out.

We hope you enjoyed this book summary of: What Color Is Your Parachute? 2017: A Practical Manual for Job-Hunters and Career-Changers. This brief overview will start you on your job searching journey, but be sure to buy the guide to get all their great exercises, diagrams, and case studies!

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You had an interview and didn’t get the job, again. What could you have possibly done wrong? What were they actually looking for? A study by the Georgia Institute of Technology aimed to find the qualifications you need to get that next developer job. Researchers surveyed 32 hiring managers in the gaming industry to rank the most important skills they look for in their entry-level developer candidates. Job qualifications were categorized as ‘Not Useful’, ‘Sometimes Useful’, ‘Important’, ‘Very Important’, and ‘Essential’.



As a standard in video game development, proficiency with C++ was ranked ‘Important’ to ‘Essential’ by all surveyed hiring managers. Knowledge about data structures, ability to solve algorithmic problems, and familiarity with debugging tools were also ‘Very Important’ skills. There is some good news for junior developers, 12.5% of recruiters replied that professional programming experience was not required or evaluated in their interviews. 28.1% of survey respondents also considered a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science to be ‘Not Useful’ or ‘Sometimes Useful’ in their hiring process.



Senior developers frequently mentioned “that students did not understand how the compiler might produce poorly optimized code.” 53.1% of recruiters considered familiarity with optimization to be a ‘Very Important’ qualification. Ability to coordinate multiple processor distribution and memory optimization were increasingly relevant skills to have as well. Big O algorithm analysis was also deemed ‘Important’ by 40.6% of hiring managers.



Writing clean code was ‘Very Important’ to ‘Essential’ for 84.4% of hiring managers. Overengineering and not being able to settle for “good enough” solutions were also major concerns. Object oriented design was an important skill for senior developers; however, students or entry-level candidates were only expected to know basic design concepts and write understandable code.



If interviewing for a specialized team, deep knowledge expertise (AI, Audio, etc.) was an ‘Important’ skill for 53.1% of hiring managers. However, “the flexibility to work on any part of a game project” was ‘Important’ to ‘Very Important’ for 78.1% of recruiters. Graphics rendering, linear algebra, and compiler knowledge were somewhat ‘Important’ skills to have. Multi-threaded programming, Newtonian physics, assembly language programming, and network programming were deemed ‘Sometimes Useful’, but not required by a majority of developer teams.


People Skills

Out of all the qualification categories, the “need for culture fit was what they considered the primary goal of interviews, with technical qualifications being secondary.” 75% of hiring managers considered the ability to work on a team without excessive ego as an ‘Essential’ qualification for all their hires. Being able to work with coworkers in other departments and communicate to technical and non-technical audiences were also ‘Important’ or more for almost all surveyed developers.


Game Industry

Knowledge about the gaming industry or having any contacts in the field was ‘Not Useful’ or ‘Sometimes Useful’ for more than half of all recruiters. Though enthusiasm for building video games was highly favored, 75% of survey respondents did not consider extracurricular game projects to be an accurate indicator of this trait. In fact, the most important qualification in video game industry was the “willingness to work extra hours when necessary”. Working to finish features on time was ‘Very Important’ for 43.8% of developer teams and accurately reflected an International Game Developers Association (IGDA) survey that reported long hours was a widespread practice in the industry.


Though the software development industry may follow hard set technical requirements during their hiring process, this study proves that personal traits (enthusiastic, hardworking, sociable) may be just as important. Surveyed developers even mentioned that “technical skills could even be learned on the job”, but cultural fit could not be taught. When filling out your next application, be sure to highlight your programming potential, your willingness to learn, and your innate enthusiasm to make an impact in the industry.

We hope the findings of this study will help you find your next great developer position.


Michael Hewner and Mark Guzdial. 2010. What game developers look for in a new graduate: interviews and surveys at one game company. Proceedings of the ACM technical symposium on Computer Science education, ACM, 275–279.

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