UX Cabin is a design agency that is interested in improving efficiency in hiring UX professionals. Async is their product that uses asynchronous video interviews (AVIs) to cover basic screening questions, reduce scheduling conflicts, and provide an overview of a candidate’s problem-solving and soft skills.
[This project was a proposal presented to the client.]
Shima Houshyar (co-lead), Marja Germans Gard, Tomomi Summers, Luxuan Wang, Alaska Beck, Erika Hesterberg.
Collaborated with UX Design and Product Manager Leads.
December 2022 – March 2023 (3 months)
Co-Lead UX Researcher
UX Cabin, via Tech Fleet Professional Association
Each job posting in the U.S. attracts 250 resume applications on average (Glassdoor, 2015). However, UX hiring managers struggle to determine whether candidates selected for interviews have necessary the "soft" (communication/ interpersonal work) skills just by reading a resume. As a result, the hiring process is often stressful and time-consuming.
I co-led a team of 8 UX researchers, where we conducted discovery, exploratory, and evaluative research to examine pain points around the interviewing process and identify ways to appeal to job candidates and hiring managers.
The proposed product, Async, is a community-focused platform that solves problems for both UX job candidates and hiring managers by emphasizing transparency and connection in the hiring process.
Before the official project kick-off, Shima (my co-lead) and I wanted to understand exactly why our client wanted to use asynchronous video interviews (AVIs) in his product. After conducting a stakeholder interview, we affinity mapped our conversation and created three main research questions for this project.
The first step was for us to define our problem space: what products exist, and how do people feel about them? We identified 11 direct competitors (AVI platforms), and 8 indirect competitors (interview preparation and portfolio hosting sites).
We conducted SWOT analyses for the competitors, and used social listening to understand how users feel about the current AVI experience. Then, we came up with 3 ways to differentiate Async from existing products:
There is currently no solution that humanizes the AVI process for job seekers, who find these interviews awkward, judgmental, and anxiety-inducing.
Hiring managers need a way to quickly & accurately judge a candidate’s experience and character. While efficiency matters, they also worry about the integrity of candidate responses.
Integrate asynchronous (“one-way”, pre-recorded) video interviews to create a more efficient – but still supportive – interviewing process?
The conflicting needs of both parties made it clear that we needed to understand what causes frustrations in the current hiring process. We conducted in-depth interviews with both hiring managers and job applicants to examine the job application process from different points of view, and identify possible shared pain points/needs.
Each interview had one researcher conducting the conversation, and one notetaker. I conducted 3 of our 19 interviews, took notes for 2 other interviews, and co-led the affinity mapping process to uncover common themes shared by participants. Our team then developed key insights that were used in the team-wide ideation session.
After conducting interviews with both user groups, we found that several key pain points about the hiring process (such as lack of transparency around interview requirements, recruiters without UX experience, and losing candidates due to slow hiring processes) were out of our control. In addition, the product team decided that replacing current AVI tools – which work well for hiring managers – was out of scope.
In a meeting with the product and design leads, we reassessed our MVP scope. Since we discovered that AVIs were already being used, we believed it would benefit both job applicants and hiring managers if it were easier to practice for these one-way video recordings. Instead of Async being an AVI platform, we decided to focus on helping applicants become comfortable with asynchronous interviews.
In a full-team ideation session, we came up with the idea to build a community that allows job candidates to practice interview skills, get acquainted with AVI technology, and receive/provide peer feedback on question responses. We used remote moderated video calls and concept tested four low-fidelity ideas with 9 job candidates to identify strengths and weaknesses of our proposed solution.
With insights from our desk research and interviews, we had a more complete understanding of our potential customers. We collaborated with Product to update their proto-personas and create journey maps to visualize user emotions throughout the entire interviewing process.
The updated personas were used by the Design team when they created their wireframes, and helped our team align on which problems we were solving (and for whom). Our journey maps allowed us to pinpoint exactly where job candidates' pain points show up, and identify how candidates and hiring managers could discover our product. Although we didn't focus on hiring managers in our MVP, I advocated for updating materials for hiring managers so that future teams could reference our research easily.
At the end of our two months, we defined the current AVI space, understood how job candidates and other hiring managers feel about the use of AVIs, and prioritized features for Async after getting feedback from interviews. With a deeper understanding of the market space, we realized that instead of directly competing with existing AVI services, we could address the quality of candidate responses. Async's focus on preparing job applicants for AVIs will help candidates showcase their skills to the best of their abilities., while still making hiring processes efficient for hiring managers.
If you're interested in a comprehensive overview of methods, deliverables, and next steps, please check out this handoff document from our team.
It was my first time co-leading a research team, and I really enjoyed planning the research stages and being involved in all parts of the process. I gained experience with managing stakeholders, facilitating cross-team collaboration, and conducting Agile research with a small (but very dedicated) team.