Designer interview tests: should designers write?

17 January 2018, in Design, Work method | Add a comment »

Knowing whether a candidate is right for a role isn’t straight forward. Jobs are different, teams work differently, and assessing someone’s ability to adapt to a different set of circumstances can feel like an impossible task.

I’m not particularly fond of design exercises. They can easily feel like spec work, especially when the recruiter’s expectations aren’t clearly set. Are you expected to work on an answer for 30 minutes, 2 hours, a week?

The subjectivity of the process in contrast with the typical engineering hiring process also bothers me. How do you tell a correct answer from an incorrect one?

With this in mind, other day I had this idea that, if good designers write, could a written exercise be part of a designer’s recruitment process? Because, truthfully, if you can’t write, can you design?

I must confess, I did no research whatsoever before writing this post, so the possibility that there are several companies doing this already is very real.

Nevertheless, the idea is worth exploring. A writing exercise could be the only exercise, or part of a series of steps (screening — take-home writing exercise — in-person whiteboard exercise — portfolio review — final chat?).

Would this cause issues to certain candidates? Could this be an exclusive process that puts some at a disadvantage? Would there be any accessibility issues?

I think this is an idea worth trying. I’d love to know if anyone has tried it before, and if it was successful.