Day#116: Dealing with the “Difficult projects” question in interviews

Day#116: Dealing with the “Difficult projects” question in interviews

This is often a tricky question because you have to state something that didn’t work as planned, speak about the company, employers and colleagues too negatively and it can actually be detrimental to you by seeming as if you are complaining or not looking at the project in a logical and unbiased fashion. The solution is just that to describe the project first so that the interviewer knows exactly what you are referring to then go into why the project did not work. Have this planned beforehand so that your general wording is both professional and to the point. Try not to waste too much time indicating how frustrated you were or upset with the outcome, the company also wants to see how you deal with failure here so maintain a calm and positive outlook throughout the conversation.


Something that you must include is the ways that the negative outcome could have either been avoided or fixed moving forward. If you don’t volunteer this information the interviewer may prompt you if you are lucky, however saying this of your own accord shows problem solving skills that are key with any UX role. Don’t mention company names if possible and try not to mention previous colleagues or employee names as well when explaining the case study. I would have to say the worst project that I worked on was one where the senior internal project manager did not have any deadlines and did not communicate with the team on the progress or goals of the project. Sometimes deadlines were given the week before with hardly any time left for testing or research, decisions were also made by senior stakeholders using their personal choices irrespective of research provided. This made it difficult to ensure the project would be success because it was basically being designed for stakeholders and not our users whom we researched. This can really be a problem when stakeholders don’t understand the purpose of user centred research and design fueling a project. Besides the obvious UX flaws in the project, the project also lacked definitive clarity in terms of functionality and features, changes were made throughout the process instead of agreeing on a structure that worked, I think this stemmed from a lack of forethought about the overall outcome of the project and resulted in an immense waste of financial and internal labour resources.


The solution

  • Introducing project management systems to allow for continuous communication of projects and goals, I did bring this to attention of stakeholders and management however the reason to not follow through with implementing the change was that the company is unique and a process like that will not work, as said before in one of my other posts the project management systems used today are used for a multitude of projects and thinking that your company or service is completely unique is the first mistake in ensuring an efficient and consistent project management system
  • Allowing for UX to do key research in understanding the users and their needs, then allowing for the final product to be reminiscent of this. Allowing for research but then allowing for it to be implemented is a waste of resources and it does not ensure that the project will be a success because it is now to the taste of stakeholders instead of the users
  • Working on a structured budget and sticking to it, often this can waver here and there but because a consistent flow of communication was not maintained massive changes had to be implemented at the last minute which costed the company a lot. Having a financial plan as well as a general project plan will help ensure the project is a success

All in all stick to the basics, without naming companies and making it a personal vendetta displaying your negative emotions towards a project you once did that not end well. Happy researching until next time!


Bye for now!

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