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How do you identify and hire a truly talented product designer?

This is a follow-up question to When should a startup hire product designers?.
Anne K. HalsallAnne K. Halsall, product designer
86 upvotes by Quora User, Fahd Butt, Chad Little, (more)
  • Understand that good product designers can come from anywhere, but they all have one thing in common: they love to build things for others to use. Look for examples of this behavior both on and off of their resumé.
  • Look for people who have both pre-launch (speccing, building from scratch) and post-launch (support, iteration) experience on previous projects.
  • Look for experience in the relevant user-facing contributor roles for your product (sometimes these people don't identify themselves as product designers, even though they functionally are). Examples might be interface design, industrial design, or front-end development.
  • Follow the trail of happy users. You're looking for someone who does more than cover the bases of user satisfaction. Listen carefully when you hear people talking about a product they love, even if it serves only a very small niche. Chances are good that there was a great designer behind it, and you may be able to reach out to them.
  • Good product designers can spot "window dressing" jobs a mile away. Bring them on early and make it clear they will have the organizational support to do their jobs effectively.
SoleioSoleio, Facebook Designer
36 upvotes by Todd Perry, Caleb Elston, Anne K. Halsall, (more)
Ask another talented product designer for a list of people he/she would love to work with. Sounds easy, but it’s true: Designers collect designers.
Brian CheskyBrian Chesky, CEO, co-founder of Airbnb
46 upvotes by Anonymous, Erbil Karaman, Simon Mosk-Aoyama, (more)
Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio. A truly great designer shoud have work, either professional or personal, that demonstrates their approach to design. The one caveat is to not only look at the finished work, but also review their sketches and design process. This will demonstrate how they think.
Sangeeta NarayanSangeeta Narayan, Catapulse Partners: Retained E... (more)
2 upvotes by Ming Yeow Ng and Ujala Qasim.
Best way to identify UX talent is to scout Quora (and before the onset of Quora, I would have said, ask your network :). But all answers above address the question(s) well.

One thing I would add to the ideas above is that while you may find a designer who is talented, make sure they are a strong culture fit with the team they will be working with.
Angel StegerAngel Steger, Omnivore
2 upvotes by Quora User and Su-Laine Yeo Brodsky.
First, the best way to find a great PD is to ask your friends, particularly (but not limited to) ones who happen to be designers you respect.

Product Design is a team effort, and a strong designer must be able to listen and to synthesize a wide variety of input. A good PD isn't precious though they love their work. A good PD isn't a special snowflake that pouts when they don't get their way on the first try or who presents the same idea after they've been asked for a new solution.

When you talk to a designer, ask them to describe their design process. What you're looking for is flexibility and drive. They should be eager to refine their ideas, approach problems from multiple angles, demonstrate empathy with users, and understand the larger goals of what they're working on.

Ask to see how they took a project from start to finish. Sketches show you ideas and the big picture. Flow diagrams can show you systematic thinking around a problem. Wireframes can illustrate how they addressed use cases.

Ask them what projects they're most proud of and why. Ask them about which projects were the most frustrating, and what they did to work through it. Were they able to turn it around? Were they able to present convincing arguments?

Think specifically about what your needs are. Do you have a very complex problem that needs a painstaking hand? If so, make sure you can see examples of similar challenges or ask them to draw with you.

Present a problem and have them work with you to demonstrate how they would approach and solve this problem. Ultimately, if you get a good feeling that you can work together, inspire each other, and communicate—and you like what they come up with, that's your PD.

Lastly, the best way to hire a great PD is to present them with good problems and real opportunities to do what they love well. If you're a fantastic manager/teammate, you have your act together, you can shield them from bs, you give them room to be good at their job, a clear vision, and you have inspiring problems to work on, they'll be stoked to work with you.
Pardeep KullarPardeep Kullar, Doing stuff on
2 upvotes by Apple Ratana and Andre Tacuyan.
Go for a designer that loves design. We hired a designer after having a look at his twitter feed and it showed a real interest in design and all things related such as photography. If he's getting up at 4am to go on a photography shoot then it's a good indication of real passion for his work. Also, if the designer can code then they'll have a good understanding of how an application flows.
I look for these qualities:
-Background of good, forward-thinking product design. That is, happy users because of good design not in spite of it.
-Good knowledge of different design approaches. Researches existing approaches before storyboarding from scratch
-Prefers designing to discussion. Ideally, designers contribute to discussions around how a product is spec-ed out. However, in a startup too much discussion can be deadly to speed. You need someone who can't wait to get back to their desk and actually do it.
Ofir OronOfir Oron, UX Designer, inventor, startup guy
1 upvote by David Chen.
1. Ask other (good) designers.
2. View portfolio (a must).
3. Ask him to tell you about products he designed that succeeded (had customers and financial success).
4.He should come of as being  extreme in at least one of the following traits:  detail orientation, creativity, innovation, diligence or intelligence.
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