The recipe for a promising Junior UX Researcher (part 2)

…And head over here if you missed the first part 👀


I wrote this series of articles to help aspiring UX Researchers in identifying what skills and qualities they must have to enter the field of UX Researcher. However, I am not a recruiter. I am just a senior UX Researcher who will speak from experience regarding what is needed on a day-to-day basis.

This set of qualities is not intended to be exhaustive, and the field of UX Research is always evolving. What is true now might not hold true soon so… keep learning.

Let’s resume our three-course meal on the qualities of a good UX Researcher 🍽️

Photo by Microsoft Edge on Unsplash

🎁 A link to my UX podcast 🎙️will also be given at the end of the 3rd part!

Photo by Sebastian Coman on Unsplash

Knowledge of UX Research Methods

From experience, what was asked of me when I was more junior was to be able to apply research techniques. I was less expected to have a critical mindset to challenge what was asked of me for instance. That is why I would mention here the importance is to being able to master the most commonly used research methods, at various stages of the product development lifecycle:

  • Interviews (at the discovery stage, in general)
  • Usability tests and surveys (at the evaluative stage, in general)

By ‘knowing the research methods’, the more practical knowledge the better. This means not only knowing how to apply the method but when to use it, how to use it (for instance, how to write an unbiased interview guide or how to moderate a usability test), and how to analyze data and come up with answers.

Being able to showcase the fact that you already used these methods successfully. This can be done at the scale of just one research study.

Be careful: knowledge and methods are always evolving in the field of UX research. That is why you should always have an open mind, be ready to learn a bit more every day, and take everything you read with a critical mindset.

I like to say that you would be rarely wrong if you make the choice to put your users first and talk to them, just sayin’.

Check for transferable skills

Check for transferable skills. You certainly have some skills that could serve as a solid base to enter the field of UX Research. For instance, if you come from architecture, you certainly already have some project management skills and sensitivity to design. If you come from data analysis, you already have a taste and skills for analyzing data and skills and since UX Research also includes quantitative research, this might help. If you were a therapist before, you already have an empathy mindset related to the job. By the way, let’s talk about empathy.



It is primordial for a UX Professional to have empathy for the human being. Not only the user.

Empathy is the ability to feel someone else’s feelings as if they were ours. It is what distinguishes us from machines. As designers’ and researchers’ goals are to improve users’ experience, being able to empathize with them naturally is a pre-requisite. However, empathizing with the user is not enough: It is important to be able to empathize with stakeholders as well. This will help you answer better their needs and have more success as a UX Researcher and Designer. Naturally, this comes from a position of considering them as users and talking to them to arrive at the core of their pain points and expectations.

Will you take a salad next? Let’s talk about some related skills that can serve you well as a UX Researcher. I might be weird, but I sometimes eat my salad after my main course.

Have a salad: curiosity, analytical mindset, communication and collaboration

In my opinion, these skills overlap to some extent.

First of all, let’s talk about collaboration.

It is very, very unlikely that you build a product alone. The same goes for research. You can perfectly do research alone, however, research needs 1. to be contextualized, 2. to be actionable. Furthermore, you cannot be an expert in EVERY field. That is why you often need to collaborate. Collaborate with people who are more experts in other areas. I am thinking about data analysts, designers, developers, product managers, and business analysts. Collaborating is key because it will help you gather insights from several angles for a given problem, in a reduced amount of time.

Data about your app’s usage? Ask the data analyst. Feasibility of the feature? Ask engineers and developers. Of course, this works if you are lucky to be in a team. If it is your passion UXR project and you are alone, try either to mention that in the limitations of your study or to tackle it yourself (after all, the only risk is to learn!).

Be curious

To take collaboration to the next level, you will need a skill I previously mentioned: keep learning. Rather, the reason behind it: Be curious. To gather all the relevant information to kickstart your project, contextualize information, take decisions and make your insights actionable, just be curious. Ask questions to your teammates. Ask questions about the business, the users’ data, the KPIs, the roadmap, previous research conducted on the topic… To help you, I wrote another medium article on the topic:

Train your communication skills

Asking questions alone is not enough. If you collaborate and you want everyone to come onboard (truly onboard, not with only one foot), you will have to leverage your communication skills. There are several aspects that I take into account when it comes to communication:

Use plain language

You should be able to teach complex concepts in simple words. One mentee perfectly said it last time in a mentorship session: “to proofread insights, it is a good idea to read them to kids to see if it is clear enough”. Thanks, D.Z. for this interesting point! You will not always deal with stakeholders who know the ins and out of your research. Also, imagine yourself coming back months after your research presentation and re-reading your insights. Think about the future you. Use simple language that is understandable and out of context. You owe this to Future You.

Tell stories

Be able to tell the insights in the form of a story so that the audience would empathize more. Why? Because we humans communicate through and remember better stories. It just comes down to that, in the end. Stories are powerful to communicate messages and captivate an audience.

If your stakeholders can remember better your insights, there is a better chance they will act on it. What I like to use as a storytelling principle is a basic formula of setting up the scene, describing the state of business until one point when you have a conflict and then how you managed to solve it. You grow up and you become better. That is why it can be interesting to include learnings at the end of your research reports by the way. In general, this is evaluated throughout the interview process considering how clearly you communicate your experience, your interest in the job, and your past portfolio projects.

However, it is even better even if you can get your stakeholders to participate in that story, and be actors in it.

By the way, let me tell you a story. The most exciting part of UX research for me always has been to come up with insights. However, I sometimes hit a wall and felt alone, more than once actually, when my insights proved to be, well, let’s face it, useless. Why? Because I did not get traction from the stakeholders. In other words, I did not manage to incite stakeholders to act on them. So, one day, I thought that having stakeholders participating in the process of ideating on solutions on top of the insights, via a workshop, could be a good idea. Guess what? It was way better. Because you could feel that every stakeholder could bring their expertise to the table, thereby ending with solutions that would not be disconnected from reality. I hope you will remember this story and try to apply it 😊

Follow me for more articles and stay tuned for the part 3 on the nice to have bonus skills of a UX Researcher, coming soon 👀 (with a link to my UX Podcast at the end 🎙️)

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