How a Designer Gets a Job at Uber (Part 2)

This article is a continuation of the first part of How to get a job at Uber as a designer.
If you have not read the first part, I recommend starting with it. This will make it easier for you to understand the entire Uber job process.

By this point, I had already gone through a phone conversation with a recruiter and completed a test task. The next stage is an interview in the office (On-Site Interview). Here’s how it was:

1. Portfolio presentation (1 hour)

The first stage is to present the portfolio to future colleagues. Besides me, there were 6 other people in the room: a design manager, two product designers, a product manager, a recruiter, and one developer. By the way, the recruiter called me a week before the interviews and helped me prepare: he told me about the process, what would be expected of me and who would take part in the interview from his colleagues.

In the first 5 minutes, I introduced myself, talked about my education and experience as a designer. The interviewers then asked me to walk them through three of my projects that I’m proud of. Each project was given 15 minutes. In the last 5 minutes he answered the questions of colleagues.

As a result, I received positive feedback, and therefore I think that I can give a few tips for presenting a portfolio:

– Start with a problem

At the very beginning, say what the problem was and why it was important to solve it. Here I recommend using the “Problem statement” – a formula for defining and describing a problem, which is widely used by all big tech companies. This way you will speak the same language with the interviewers.

– Show the whole design process

From research and brainstorming to final pixel perfect layouts.

For each project, tell us: how long did it last, who else was on the team, what was your role. Don’t tell me – this will be the first question that will be asked after the presentation. Don’t even ask me how I know this.

– Tell us about the results

Interviewers are looking forward to having you talk at the end of each project about how your design impacted business performance and end users. If you are unable to disclose project numbers (as I was), give an approximation and note that you cannot disclose exact numbers. All normal companies respect the confidentiality of such data.

Prepare in advance and rehearse

So you will be as confident as possible in the performance. At the presentation, it is better not to use any materials as a cheat sheet. Better make eye contact with interviewers and present projects as if you were having a conversation. Get someone to help you prepare. I rehearsed for my speech in front of my wife a few days before the interviews.

– Write down the names of the interviewers

I’m bad at remembering names, so I’d probably forget them if I didn’t write them down. Writing down the names is helpful – you will meet and talk to most of these people again during the day. Knowing the names will facilitate such communication. And people really like it when you address them by their first name.

2. General Interview (45 minutes)

This is an informal interview with a product manager. He learned more about me, about my past experience, how I got into the profession and what interests me. He went on to talk about the position and expectations of a product designer. At the end, he highlighted the aspects that he lacked at the previous stage in my portfolio presentation.

3. Lunch. Lunch Buddy (1 hour)

After a general interview, at noon, one of the company’s designers invited me to lunch. We had lunch right in the office, in the company’s cafeteria. Any food was free for me that day. The recruiter said it was informal and not part of the interview at all. He lied – lunch was definitely part of the interview.

During lunch, the team determines how easily you can fit into their culture and try to see if you will get along with the rest. They also watch how you feel among other people, how you eat and talk.

Be friendly, don’t skip lunch with a colleague, and keep the conversation going. Better yet, use this opportunity to ask questions you care about.

I recommend asking:

  • Do you like working here?

  • What do you like most about the product/company?

  • What do you hate the most about the product/company?

  • How do you balance work and personal life?

5. Technical interview (45 minutes)

This interview is about the technical skills of a designer. Here, the interviewers wanted to make sure that I don’t swim in Figma, I’m friendly with typography and layout, I understand technology (hard skills) .

In addition, special attention was paid to soft skills. Modeled conflict and various difficult working situations. They asked how I would behave in this situation.

I was asked questions such as:

  • What software do I use for work?

  • How do I submit layouts to developers?

  • How well do I understand the technologies I will be working with? (native iOS and Android development)

  • What else can I do? (3D, animation, graphic design, illustration)

  • How would I behave if, during a design review session, one of the designers said that he did not like my solution?

And many other questions. They are quite typical, and they can be easily found on the Internet before the interview and prepare.

5. Design review (45 minutes)

In this interview, my taste was evaluated and what “good design” means to me. The interviewer suggested that I download and open a competitor’s app (one of the taxi calling services I hadn’t used before) on my phone. Next I was asked:

  • What is my first impression of the design?

  • Does the app have a good design?

  • What would I improve in terms of UX?

  • Why do I think they made feature X this way? How would I do it better?

  • What do I think about the logo, color palette, icon style and animations?

To pass this test easily, I recommend developing the habit of evaluating the design of the interfaces you use. Downloaded a new food delivery app? Take 10-15 minutes and evaluate its design (UX + UI) at the top level. Over time, this will become a habit, learn to quickly analyze interfaces and see the key.

6. Whiteboard Challenge (45 minutes)

This is another test task, where I was tested on the process of working on a task and my thinking abilities. The interviewer suggested imagining and improving the UX of calling a taxi in the modern world.

The task takes place in a room where there is a large white board and markers. In the process of execution, you need to use this: fix the problem, write down ideas and wireframes. The main difficulty is that there is not much time to think, and you need to do the task out loud: think, ask clarifying questions, draw conclusions, comment on drafts.

Here are the important pieces on this part:

– Take your time. The essence of this task is to learn about your process of working on a task. The interviewer does not expect you to have a perfect solution, but looks at how you arrived at that solution.

Don’t start drawing layouts right away. This is the main trap. The assignment will be intentionally very broad in meaning. The interviewer expects you to narrow down your search and ask clarifying questions. For example, if the problem is to “create a delivery service”, you can ask: “Who will use the service?”, “What delivery is it about?” “Who is our target audience?” “What pains do our users have?”. Feel free to ask questions. In a vacuum, without communication with the interviewer, it is impossible to solve the problem. When you narrow down the condition of the problem, you can choose one of the branches and work on it.

Don’t worry about uncertainty. If it turns out that there are several adequate solutions (usually, it always happens), indicate this to the interviewer and evaluate the possible solutions (list their pros and cons). Then choose the one that you think is more suitable. Be sure to say that ideally you would like to test both solutions (for example, with an A/B test), but as part of the exercise, you will choose solution X.

When you pass the test, do not expect feedback right away. It is not given every second. You will be able to discuss a little with the interviewer what you have come to, but he will not give a specific assessment. The interviewer will only write down something in his notes and thank you for passing the test.

This concludes the interview day. The recruiter will help you find a way out of the office (most importantly, not forever), thank you for your time and tell you when to expect an answer.

In my case, it took the team two weeks to discuss my candidacy and make a decision. As I later found out, I wasn’t the only candidate who was interviewing, and that they didn’t make decisions until they got to know everyone.

In the end, two weeks later, I received a long-awaited offer from Uber and accepted it with complete relief. Thank you for reading to the end.


I run a telegram channel about the work of a designer abroad – t. me/vlad_hoffman

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