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“We’re hiring” but what can you do to get hired?

In this post Dereck, our UX lead, explains how hiring works within the UX research and design team.

In this post Dereck, our UX lead, explains how hiring works within the UX research and design team.


Since FutureLearn started we have built a really talented team who keep all the plates spinning. Now, with even more new people on board, I thought it might be an interesting time to reflect on our hiring process within the UX research and design team. Hopefully you might find some useful tips on what we look for when hiring and how you might get our attention.

Tell us why you’re interested

Cover letters are important – we are always surprised by the number of generic cover messages we receive. Make yours stand out by being personal, sincere and explain clearly why you would like to work with us, show us your passion for design. Spend some time researching what FutureLearn is and what we do, we always love to hear feedback on our product from a design perspective.

Show us your thinking

Yes we want to see a portfolio. We like to see 2 to 3 good case studies, each telling its own story, any more than this and it will take too long to go through. Remember, your case studies should stand on their own as, in the first instance, you won’t be there to explain them to us. Make sure you cover the goal of the project, talk about your design process, successes, failures and the final result, but most importantly what your role in the project was. But don’t go overboard on the details – keep it to the point – we’ll ask you more questions later if we’re interested. At this stage we’re keen to just see a high-level summary of your projects and thinking.

Be discerning

It’s OK if you didn’t do everything on the project, we work as a team and would like to understand how you work with others. If you have the luxury of a lot of experience, then curate your portfolio to show skills that you think are relevant to the role you’re applying for. If you’re just starting out in your career you may not have much commercial work to show, that’s OK. If you decide to include design exercises in your portfolio, make sure you explain how you went about problem solving, and present them as case studies. Real world examples are all the better, even if they ultimately never saw the light of day. If you explain your projects well, and highlight any assumptions you made this is all positive. Be honest about how and why this happened, then elaborate on what you learnt from the project.

Keep it simple

You’re online folio should represent you, but try and keep it simple. All designers experiment with their site, trying out interesting visual layouts and amazing interactions, but if it takes us time to work out how to use it…you’ve lost us. Easy navigation should be a priority and it would be great if it works on touch devices too. If the experience of viewing your portfolio isn’t as good as the user experience of your work, it doesn’t reflect well on you as a designer.

Be prepared to work as part of a team

We have quite a collaborative approach and process to things at FutureLearn and this is reflected in our interview process. We take finding the right people very seriously in order for us to be able to collaborate effectively as a team.

Candidates that make it to our long list are invited in for an interview and asked to complete a design task, unrelated to live projects. The reason we set a design task is to gain an understanding of how individuals think and explore a problem that is relevant to FutureLearn – it’s an exploration piece, with no defined outcome. Then, during the interview, with a couple of people from the design team, we’ll review the design task plus a couple of relevant projects from your portfolio.

After reviewing all the candidate interviews, if we think that there’s a very high possibility that someone may be a good fit, we’ll ask them to come back in and spend 1/2 day with us (or a full day if your current work situation allows). We’ll only invite one or two candidates maximum and this allows you to meet other people at FutureLearn – like product managers, developers and other members of the design team. It’s an opportunity to find out more about FutureLearn and see if it’s the sort of environment that you would like to work in. It also allows a larger group of people at FutureLearn to consider if you might work well within our team. After this final stage we make a decision as a group on who we hire.

By explaining this all up front we hope to avoid surprises and so far this approach has proven very successful for both us and applicants. Those that have interviewed through this process have all commented on how spending the 1/2 day in the office gave them a much better understanding of how FutureLearn works and that it was key in helping them make the decision if they wanted to join us.

Sound good? Check out the jobs we have going at FutureLearn at the moment.

Or find out more about how to net a job.

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