How to Hire a UI Designer

By Robert Half on October 5, 2021 at 8:00am

What is it about an app, website or any other piece of software that makes users come back to it again and again?

It's a subjective question, to be sure, but most people’s say it’s things like speed, appearance, and easy navigation — what we refer to as the user interface (UI). A great UI is key to creating a successful software application, which is why UI design is one of the most important roles in the creative field.

It's also a multifaceted question. Looks matter, of course, and from the colour palette to the typography, UI designers are responsible for making a product that's pleasing to the eye. But they also devise intuitive user interactions, craft style guides, make mockups and prototypes, build and manage design systems, and optimize sites for responsive web design (RWD).

As you'd expect, creative professionals with this kind of skill set are in high demand, and competition for the hottest talent is fierce. In fact, 92% of managers in tech say it’s challenging to find strong candidates. But there's a lot you can do to increase your chances of hiring your first choice for the role.

Create an irresistible job posting

Just as a well-designed UI draws in users of an app, a succinct, well-crafted job description engages the attention of the best candidates.

Assuming you want your designer to hit the ground running, clearly state what software they'll be using day one, as well as the kinds of products and platforms they'll be working on. Software skills needed for your role may include:

  • Prototyping — Adobe XD, Figma, MockFlow, Balsamiq, Axure RP, Framer X
  • Editing or creating still images — Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Canva
  • Creating animated images and text — Sketch, Adobe After Effects
  • Usability testing: Applause, Usertesting

Engineering and design are increasingly specialized, so don't assume your new designer has extensive coding skills. Most designers will know the basics, such as HTML and CSS. If you require Javascript, Java, C++ or another more complex coding language, be sure to mention this in your job description.

You may also need to look for designers with localization experience if you're launching your product internationally. An understanding of accessible design is also advantageous.

Some additional topics to address in your job posting include whether the position is full-time or project-based, if any special credentials or certifications are required, the level of formal education preferred, and details about your organizational culture and benefits. State clearly whether the position is office-based, remote or a hybrid of the two and whether these working conditions are subject to review.

Finally, work with your team to make sure the job description emphasizes must-have skills and qualifications. If the posting is a laundry list of nice-to-have attributes, it risks driving away talented candidates who can't tick every box.

Dig deep at the interview

A good resume and portfolio tells you a lot about a candidate's hard skills, qualifications and experience. It doesn’t necessarily highlight their soft skills — their ability to communicate ideas to team members, for example, or to compromise or collaborate on their personal vision for the benefit of the project.

Soft skills and interpersonal skills are crucial for UI designers, who work closely with software developers and user experience (UX) designers. By asking the right questions during the interview, you can investigate a candidate's strengths and weaknesses in these areas. Some examples:

  • What are your favourite and least favourite things about UI design?
  • Do you think UI designers will become more or less important as technology evolves?
  • From a design perspective, what's your favourite piece of software, and why?
  • Pretend I've never used a smartphone and explain to me why UI design matters.
  • What kind of work environment do you thrive in?
  • Are you comfortable working with a remote team and what are some suggestions you have for making the team feel connected?
  • What do you think is most important when sharing or receiving feedback?
  • Give an example of a time where being open-minded or flexible improved your final product.
  • When presenting an idea to stakeholders, what are the most important things to communicate? Can you give an example?
  • What do you learn from more, your mistakes or your successes?
  • How do you think the UX designers and software developers you've worked with would describe you?

It's a good idea to mix broad questions like these with ones that focus more narrowly on a candidate's work history. Pick out a couple of interesting projects from their portfolio and ask questions such as:

  • If we asked you to work on a similar project to this one, what would you do differently?
  • What makes this particular user interface special?
  • Was there any moment on this project when you disagreed with your software developers or UX designers? If so, how did you resolve this?
  • How did delivering this project on time affect your work-life balance?

Make a good offer fast

With a tight job market, there are plenty of opportunities for UI designers. In fact, many talented candidates are juggling multiple offers. If a candidate impressed you with their resume and interview, chances are they're impressing other employers too — so it's important to move quickly to make them an offer they can't refuse.

The Robert Half Salary Guide provides salary data for creative and marketing roles, including UI designer. Salaries can vary according to location, so use our Salary Calculator to determine what UI designers can expect in your city and province.

If you can't match the salaries being offered by your competitors, you have other options. Remote and hybrid work environments, flexible schedules, and other tempting perks and benefits can be used to sway creative professionals. The ability to work from anywhere is high on job seekers’ lists. Think about what else might appeal to UI designers in particular. Many people prefer to work for organizations that are implementing new or emerging technologies, and may appreciate opportunities for professional development. Mentorship programs can also complement other learning and development efforts.

Reach out to a recruiter

Recruiting can be stressful and time consuming. With their expansive networks, talent solutions agencies like Robert Half have the inside track on the best UI designers available in your region. They keep you up to date on the latest trends in hiring and compensation and might be just the edge you need to find the UI designer who's right for you.

Learn from Robert Half’s expert recruiters so you can build a talented team of employees or advance your career. Operating in more than 300 locations worldwide, including our job agencies in and around Toronto, Robert Half can provide you with assistance where and when you need it.

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