The Rough Spots
9. How do you deal with difficult teammates that you have to work with?
There are lots of ways people can be difficult, but one I really like is the negotiator. They often bring an "I want to win, so you have to lose" mindset. They can be fun to win over and turn into an ally, and generally, all you have to do is listen and reflect their needs back to them. When you get both sides focused more on the problem and their interests, then finding a solution is just another design challenge.
10. How do you handle criticism?
Like everyone, I try to take a beat to check with the emotional impact. Usually, criticism stings a little, so it's important to recognize before going back to work. In the context of design critique, I'm quick to respond with "that's interesting" and "I hadn't seen it like that. Can you tell me more?" and use it as an opportunity to learn about the expectations outside of my own that are the source of feedback. Later, I'll go back and reflect on my own expectations and feelings and how I could have better served my stakeholders.
11. What 3 words would you use to describe yourself?
Adaptive, inquisitive, direct.
12. Give me an example of a project where you disagreed with the stakeholder or client’s direction and tell me how you handled it.
On a recent project, our stakeholders were growing increasingly anxious about certain corner cases in the usage of their product. "These elements are too small..." was their panicked chorus. From the design team perspective, the concern seemed un-founded, but we wanted to understand their needs and give them confidence that our solutions were sound.
We took quick action to update our approach in a way that directly answered their concerns by showing them the numbers and some alternatives. To bolster our shared understanding of the problem and our solution, we closed out the issue with end-user validation research, and a detailed breakdown from prior research about how the new choice met their needs. The approach of "show don't tell" worked wonders in this case because they realized it wasn't just our word that the solution was valid, but that the evidence backed up our position.