Don’t be fooled; when you’re interviewing a top UX designer, you’re as much in the hot seat as they are. Why? While demand for digital designers has surged in recent years, the supply of top-notch candidates hasn’t grown at the same rate. Everyone is on the hunt for the best design talent. This means top designers are getting the pick of the litter when it comes to what projects to take on. You have to bring your A-game to differentiate yourself in the recruitment process. This guide will help you position yourself to land the top talent.

Set clear project parameters.

Your ideal candidate is going to be highly organized and a clear communicator. They’re going to be looking for the same qualities in you. So before you sit down for your first interview, make sure you’ve clearly outlined your project aims and requirements.  Set your budget and timeline upfront and explain how you intend to measure success. For instance, is your end goal to drive traffic or subscriptions? Provide examples of website and app designs you like and be able to articulate exactly what elements you’re drawn to, why, and how they fit in with your vision for this project. Top-notch candidates will want to know exactly what parameters they have to work with so they can hit the ground running.

Define the role.

User Experience design has an incredibly broad definition. UX designers are in charge of the overall functionality of the product, which means they’re spearheading strategy and content, creating wireframes and prototypes, and constantly coordinating with developers and other designers to create an incredibly intuitive user experience. They’re wearing a lot of hats at once, which is why a lot of people misunderstand their role.

Don’t ask a candidate about how they’ll make decisions about control button designs. That’s the job of the UI designer and falls under an entirely different job description. If you’re unclear about the distinctions between UX and UI or interaction design and how to interview for each, check out Toptal’s UX designer hiring guide here and UX interview questions here. Asking the right questions about UX will show that you have a solid understanding of the design discipline.

Demonstrate genuine interest in their perspective.

As we’ve established, the job of a UX designer is pretty broad. There’s no clear path to becoming a stellar UX designer, and the discipline is growing and transforming at really remarkable speed. Ask your candidate what they think the mark of great UX talent is, how they recognize it in other people, and how they continue to stay on the cutting edge of the discipline.

Paint real life scenarios.

When you ask questions about their soft skills, steer clear from vagueness and give them real life scenarios to work with. For instance, when you’re trying to understand their work ethic, ask your designer how they get out of bed after a long night rather than what motivates them. The latter is a really dull question and you’ll deserve the canned response you’re likely to get. But if you change it up and paint them a picture of an experience we all know too well – one, two too many Netflix episodes or laughs at the bar followed by a screeching alarm at 6 am– then you’ll get their wheels turning. This will lead to a more open and thoughtful response and a more memorable discussion for both sides.

Give them breathing room.

A lot of designers work best on their own time, in their own workspace. You may want your shiny new designer to work a couple feet away from you in your office, but that could sound really unappealing to them and kill their productivity. Once you’ve decided that you want a candidate, you should know with full confidence that they are hard-workers and have strong communication skills. It shouldn’t matter then if they’re in your office or working in a café across town (or if they’re remote, then working in a café across the world).

Remote work is on the rise, which means more designers are demanding that they set the terms of their work environment and savvy employers are listening. Don’t let your desire for your designers to work in-house be the biggest detractor about the position. Let your candidate know that what works best for them will work well for you. Otherwise, you may quickly lose candidates to similar clients who offer more freedom.


When it comes to finding the right designer, you’ve got to be incredibly vigilant in screening for fit and communication skills as well as technical excellence. Don’t forget, this is a candidate’s market and as much as you’re screening them, they’re taking a strong look at you. Don’t give them any reason to move onto the next potential client.