Tell me about A Time

How to help college student better prepare for the interviews?

Project Background

Working as a Product Designer in the team, I participated in a Seattle-based Hack-a-thon called StartupWeekend in November 2017. Over the 48 hours, we designed and prototyped a mobile app and business plan to help college students better prepare for their upcoming interviews.
As a result, we won the second place out of nine teams.

Vinny Pasceri (Product Manager)
Atticus Crowe (Project Manager)
Kate Knight (Business Operations)
Chloe Nash (Engineer)
Michael Wolf (Business Operations)
Beijuan Miao (UX Designer)
PracticesElevator Pitch, User Research, UX & UI Design
Methods & Tool
Survey, Interviews, Competitive Analysis, Sketch & Principle
Product Designer
TechStars Startup Weekend EDU 2017
November 17-19, 2017


How to help students better prepare for the interviews?

“Tell me about a time...” these 5 words can invoke a range of emotion from absolute terror to a sense of pride. Preparing for interviews is how you reach opportunities, but it’s mostly a solo effort. You prep what you think the companies are looking for, but you can’t be sure. Students typically interview for multiple roles concurrently. There’s little to no feedback, and there’s very little time to course correct between interviews. If you strike out, there’s no second chance. It’s a cycle that repeats and gets harder the longer you’re in industry.


Build something from nothing in 48 hours

As the Startup Weekend was a 48-hour design Hack-a-thon, we made a tight schedule including user research, journey map, problem definition, brainstorm, prototype, business model and pitch preparation. Due to the time limitation, we did not get the chance to conduct the usability tests and iterate, but we would definitely include those process in the future steps.

User Research

How do students feel about their interview preparation?

As we started our initial research, we sent out a survey targeting college and graduate students and received more than 50 responses. Together with secondary resources research and competitive product analysis, we were trying to learn more about the interview preparation process and what makes students feel helpless about it.

What are the current interview preparation experience?

Furthermore, to build empathy with our users, we conducted a journey map to figure our the current experience of students preparing for the upcomig interviews.

We found out that students are lonely and helpless in the preparation process. Specifically, they are frustrated, insecure, and unable to afford the available mentorship products.
There are tons of resources providing tips for interviews but students receive no feedback for their rehearsals.
The cheapest online interview coaching program is $79/month, and it is too expensive for students without income.
Students felt frustrated and lonely prior to the interviews.

Design Goals

Connecting the gap

We believe that interview is a skill that can be practiced and mastered. Everyone deserves an equal shot and that interviewing is a skill that can be learned and mastered, with the help of others. We would love to build a product that helps students understand what is expected for their interviews, and connects them to relevant professionals to get timely feedback.


Embracing the off-wall ideas

Following the design requirement, we came up with more than 30 off-wall ideas, including daily interview question subscription, a chatbot to practice behavior questions, and a flash card with various interview questions on. After conducting affinity diagram, we voted top 4 ideas as the features in the final product.


A three-step learning experience

We then analyzed the feasibility for each of the top directions and figured out that all these four directions can be incorporated into one product. Therefore, we developed a learning experience with three steps including Acquisition, Cohort, and Expert.

In the Acquisition step, students will study the sample answers and interview techniques, and they need to compete 5 responses of interview questions in order to unlock the second step.

Once unlocked Cohort step, students will join a group of peer candidates with similar career interests. They will write feedback for each other. The students are not allowed to check out the received feedback until submitting three peer feedback. Feedback guide and grading rubric will be provided.

After received five peer feedbacks, students will unlock the Expert step and will receive the video of interview questions recorded by one of the industrial experts. After practicing, students should send the response video back to the expert and will get personal feedback regarding the response.

Fast Iteration

From sketches to Hi-Fi in 4 hours

Together with another Designer Bei, we quickly mocked up the product from sketches all the way into high-fidelity prototype in four hours. Due to the time limitation, we only highlighted the major features and flows within the product, but they are sufficient for the final presentation and usability studies. If time allowed, we should mock up the end-to-end flow for sure, to gain a holistic understanding of the user experience.

The Product

By the end of the Hack-a-thon, we finally completed our first version of the product and delivered a presentation with a thoughtful business plan and a clickable prototype. In the product demo and presentation, we highlighted three major features of the product as shown below.


Design Hack-a-thon was painful but rewarding

Due to the time limit, we did not have a chance to test and iterate. Bei and I will continue refining the prototype and conducting usability tests after the Hack-a-thon. Nevertheless, this was my first time attending Hack-a-thon and creating a product within two days. Despite for the tight schedule, we went through the user research, ideation, and prototyping phases, which helped me rapidly gain a whole picture of how a product is created in the real-world industry.

Team members matter.
We strategically recruited one Product Manager, one Project Manager, two UX Designers, two Business Specialists, and one Engineer. Through the design process, we divided into two groups. While the Product Manager and Business Specialists were working on the pitch deck and business plan, the Project manager, the Engineer and the Designers were conducting user research, ideation, and prototyping. Each of us had specific role and timeline, so we cooperated very well.


Bravo! We made it!

I felt especially lucky to be part of this awesome team. We have been through all the pressure, the frustration, and the constraints. We were surprised but deserved to win the second place of the Hack-a-thon as we worked so hard and so efficiently and we are truly proud of ourselves.