How to Spot a UX Masquerader

I’ve recently had an increasing number of conversations with other UX professionals about the difficulties in finding true UX talent and how they have been encountering people that are not really UX Designers. It seems these “Masqueraders” usually appear when you are interviewing for a UX Designer role. Some project managers have even been duped into making a wrong hiring decision, only finding their mistake later on when it becomes as clear as day that the applicant did not hold the skill set, or level of UX skills they had claimed to.

There also seems to be a series of common traits with these Masqueraders, but first — why are there so many of them?


Given the accessibility to a vast array of similar products UX has become a hot topic over the last few years. User Experience is now a differentiator and therefore “UX Designer” has become a role that every project leader knows they need, despite not always fully understanding what it really is. Or, even more common, they confuse it with UI. How many roles have you seen listed as UX/UI? The problem is a UX Designer has to understand every phase of the product lifecycle, from concept to design through testing and delivery, and, perhaps most importantly, how carefully designing the connection points with the end user in mind throughout will impact the user experience.

A true UX Designer is “someone who has the full range of skills to take all aspects of UX into consideration and deliver the most value to your users“. With the skillset in increasingly high demand, I have seen hundreds of resumes in which people will twist anything into a “User Experience Designer” role. What’s more, they all claim to be a User Experience Expert – whether they responded to a survey once, created some wireframes, made a website… you get the gist. The worst case is when Masqueraders have managed to get into a decision-making leadership role — yet, it is quite blatantly obvious they know very little about how to actually design experiences.

To be honest, with the industry and job description still being defined, you cannot really blame people for not knowing how to spot the correct talent. It is also worth mentioning that many people across various disciplines are genuinely trying to learn what’s needed to become true UX designers.

Here are some of the Masquerader’s most common traits and key characteristics that seemed to come up, in order to help you spot those with the skills to really add value to your business.

1. They use the words “Experience” and “User” all the time.

Masqueraders talk about “experience” without really saying anything about it at all. They use it as a buzz word, like if they say it enough people will think they know all about it. They also use the word “User” a lot, but often they really haven’t spent any time truly understanding who their User is…

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