How to Deal With UX Recruiters

Recruiters have a questionable reputation across many industries, and UX is no exception. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid talking to them at all costs. There are good recruiters and bad ones. While a good recruiter can help you secure the perfect position and boost your career, a bad one can waste your time and even set you back. If you want to avoid that, you need to be able to distinguish the good from the bad. This article will give you some important points to consider.

Pre-screening call

If a recruiter has looked at your resume and profile and decided that you're a good candidate, they’ll give you a call to establish that you're not obviously a sociopath. This is especially important in UX, where working with other people is a key part of the job.

ux recruiter call

And just as they are determining whether they want to work with you, you need to decide whether you want to work with them. While they are learning more about you, you have to learn more about them. It’s a conversation, not a monologue (and if you do find that your phone call turning out to be a monologue, politely excuse yourself and hang up the phone).

The first thing you need to make sure of is that your recruiter understands the industry. If they don't, they won’t be able to help you. If they had no idea what UX is until this morning because they had previously specialized in hiring accountants, and yours is the first UX role they are recruiting for after a quick Google search, they won’t be able to help you. Politely thank them for their time and move on.

The second thing you need to establish is whether they understand the job requirements and can tell you more or less specifically what the role will involve during that first phone call. UX is a broad field, and you can specialize in many areas. Make sure to find out whether this position is right for you during that first call.

Another reason it's important to ask your recruiter about the job in detail is to establish that this is a UX job in the first place. With UX becoming more and more of a buzzword, I see many recruiters trying to pass off everything from digital marketing to front-end development as UX. Only after asking questions over the phone will you find out that a job requires you to, for instance, create banners or social media content.

Warning signs:

  • Your recruiter asks you what UX is.
  • You're having a video call with your recruiter on Skype and they are sitting in a boardroom packed with people you don’t know.
  • Your recruiter is using a lot of industry jargon where plain English would have sufficed.
  • Your recruiter ask you whether you know Python or Javascript.

Encouraging signs:

  • Your recruiter has worked with people in the industry for over six months.
  • Your recruiter has good recommendations from both UX candidates and clients.

Before the employer interview

So, the recruiter is happy with you, you're happy with them, the position still sounds good, and the employee wants to meet you. It may all seem like plain sailing from here, but, unfortunately, there are still things that can go wrong.

If you’ve done your bit during the phone interview, you should now be working with a recruiter who knows the industry, the employer, and the role. However, they may still suffer from a lack of motivation, or exhibit poor attention to detail. They may fail to tell you something important about the employer (such as that they insist candidates present their portfolios on a projector) and consequently sabotage your chances for a position.

ux job interview

To avoid that scenario, ask your recruiter questions about the employer before the interview. Find out how many people will be present, who they are, whether there's a dress code, whether the employer prefers to see a digital or a print version of your portfolio, etc. That way, you can significantly reduce the odds that you'll blow it.

On the other end of spectrum is the recruiter who wants you to fill the position so badly that they give you all the answers. An unscrupulous recruiter can give you a list of all the questions you are likely to be asked, and even go so far as to tell you what responses an employer is looking for. By allowing feeding you answers, such a recruiter is doing a disservice both to you and to the company. They aren't interested in finding a perfect match; they just want to fill the position.

Warning signs:

  • Your recruiter told you that the interview will be with “Matt” but neglected to mention the other five people present.
  • You expected the interview to be a general chat about your work and experience, but instead you were asked to solve a problem.
  • Your recruiter told you (or, worse, revealed in an email) a list of the technical questions the client intends to ask.

Encouraging signs:

  • Your recruiter told you names of everyone who will be present during the interview, and emailed you links to their LinkedIn profiles.
  • Your recruiter told you how long the interview will be and whether or not it will involve tasks or problem solving.
  • Your recruiter told you whether or not there's a dress code, and whether the client prefers candidates to present a print or digital portfolio.

After you secure the position, you’ll naturally stay in touch with your recruiter. However, there’s still something you need to do for all the other recruiters that you have been working with while looking for a new job. You should thank them all by email for their help, and let them know that you have secured a position. After that’s done, make a note of the good ones – you'll want to get in touch with them next time you're looking for a job. Take note of the bad ones too – and be very cautious the next time they approach you with a job.


About the Author

Vera Kravchuk

While Vera’s background is primarily in communication and UX design, you will often find her participating in a variety of cross-disciplinary activities, including research, front end web development, and writing. In the past she has written content for a web design course, spoken at a conference “What Do You Know” in Sydney, and contributed to various UX industry websites.