The UX hiring process at Tyk and how to stand out in your next application

Tyk’s UX Architect, Sophie Riches | Image by

The hot topic when applying for a UX position is usually around how to create a stellar portfolio. And while your portfolio holds a lot of weight in getting you over that first hurdle, it’s not the end of the journey. With a new UX Designer position opening at Tyk, I chatted with UX Architect, Sophie Riches, to find out what she looks for during the UX hiring process and how it’s structured at Tyk.

We’ll be covering four parts:

  • CV/Resume
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Collaboration Workshop

What impact can a CV have?

Your CV is often the first touchpoint I’ll have, and if it’s formatted nicely, I’ll definitely have a better reaction to it. That doesn’t mean it needs to be a masterpiece of design; it just needs to be structured in a way that’s easy to read.

When I look at a CV, I check what your experience is. I’m most interested in the path you’ve taken to get where you are today. Most UX designers don’t come from a solely UX background, so it’s good to see where you’re drawing your experience from.

I usually take the CV as a pinch of salt and validate it with your portfolio.

What are you looking for in a portfolio?

The main thing I want to see is how your mind works — what are your thought processes? Understanding why you worked on something a particular way is more important to me than the outcome. I wouldn’t put you forward to the next stage if your portfolio didn’t explain the ‘why’ behind the process.

If you have a project in your portfolio that was completed as a team, make sure there is a clear distinction of what your contributions were — I want to know what it was that you did.

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Ironically, there are a lot of portfolios that don’t have a good user experience! When I’m viewing your portfolio, I should quickly find and read your case studies. It would help if you were thoughtful when formatting your portfolio. Think of the hirer as your user — what do you want them to see, feel and experience? I’d encourage you to think of your portfolio as its own UX project.

Is there anything you don’t like seeing in portfolios?

I’m looking for your ability to tell a story and share insights into how you work rather than just seeing a series of tasks you’ve completed.

If the CV and portfolio check all the boxes, the next stage is a one-on-one interview. What are you trying to assess?

I’m looking for passion. I can tell how passionate someone is by how they talk — whether it’s passion about UX, users, processes, research or what’s important to them. So I usually split the interview into two parts.

Part 1: I want to understand your UX background better, how you tackle problem-solving, and your thinking around combining UX with the broader business context. I like to understand what it is about Tyk that makes you want to work here. I’ll also ask about the tools you work with and the types of assets you produce.

Part 2: I like to focus on what you’re looking for in a role. This is important because not only do I need to know if you’re the right fit for the team, but you need to know if this opportunity is right for you. So I’ll ask about what you want in your career so I can assess if we can offer it to you and find out what you want in a manager. I also get to know who you are as a person to see whether you’d be happy in our team.

How can someone really shine in an interview?

The people who really stand out are the ones who you speak to and have an enjoyable conversation with. An interview shouldn’t be one-sided — you should be interviewing me just as much as I’m interviewing you. Whilst I have some questions that will introduce specific areas and topics, I prefer to use them as a guide to both illicit responses in line with our requirements and allow the conversation to develop organically. For me, it’s not a great sign if the interview falls into a strict ‘question-answer format.

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If someone wows you in the interview, they are invited to a collaborative workshop. What are you looking to learn at this stage?

As the name suggests, the UX team and I want to see how you approach the hypothetical problem and how well you collaborate with others in a workshop environment. Before the workshop, I’ll provide you with a problem statement that you’ll then present back to the team, and we’ll work together for an hour going through any tasks and activities you feel are appropriate. We definitely don’t like the idea of people working for free, so the problem statement has nothing to do with our line of work, and we also expect you to spend no more than 1 hour prepping for it. We’re in no way judging the actual work produced at the end of the workshop.

As a team, we are assessing how well you listen to others, which will indicate how you’ll listen to users and stakeholders. We’ll also observe how you conduct yourself around the other team members and, most importantly, how you respect others.

The workshop is designed to test collaborative skills and gives a chance for the UX team to meet you and ask any questions. It is also an opportunity for you to see what it would be like to work in our team to see if the fit is right for you. This is the final stage of the UX hiring process.

Lastly, when it comes to hiring at Tyk, are there any other qualities you look for?

Being a UX Designer at Tyk is quite different from working at e-commerce, app or SaaS companies in general. We build technical products to enhance developer experiences. In our world, a typical GUI is a small part of what we do, and our users interact with our product through APIs, CLIs, SDKs, too, so we look for people who are comfortable with designing experiences in these areas. It would help if you were a true problem solver with the ability to really get into the nitty-gritty of complex developer software experiences.

That being said, it’s not a requirement that you come from a technical background, but you need to have the ability to adapt and show an inclination that tells us you would thrive in this type of environment.