Crit my cooper test, ehehe

6 Feb 2004 - 2:58pm
10 years ago
9 replies
549 reads
Christian Simon
2003

Interaction designers in the sf bay area may remember a job post
(11/25/2003) for interaction designer at the sf office of cooper. <D Notice
2003 11 25.pdf>

Their application invites applicants to take their optional "interaction
test" with your application. As I discussed in this forum my background is
in graphic design and my work history in interaction is largely self taught.
I read the test and thought it could help my application. I have been asked
before by prospective employers to take tests. I usually decline, because I
feel that if the office can't tell the quality of a person from their
portfolio and an interview then a test is not going to make any difference
(and actually makes me question the management's understanding of what they
expect from their employees).

The cooper test says at the bottom "it should be fun" and it was. The test
was relatively vague with details of their expectations. I read the test,
imagined a possible solution, estimated the time to take the test, and set
time limits for myself. I wrote a proposal that I felt was a reasonable
examination of the problem and then provided a viable solution. While it was
nice to receive a thank you email moments after having sent my application,
it was a let down to not to get an invitation-not that I much expected one.

So, I'm looking at my site and see this test I posted for cooper. I think to
my self why not post it to this group. I made the effort to take it, its a
shame to let it got to waste when it is really only of interest to cooper.

A Friday distraction.
Take a look and drop me your opinion.
Xtian

file: http://www.christiansimon.com/coopertest/

Some questions might be,
1) For you serious interaction designers, and you know who you are, read the
test and decide if you feel it necessitates a particular standard response.
Does my response satisfy this criteria?

2) The test does not indicate a time limit. I choose to time myself rather
then take extra time to craft my response. Simply put, based on my response
is thr test's challenge answered or should I have chosen another strategy
(and possibly taken more time to craft my response)?

Comments

6 Feb 2004 - 3:39pm
Nick Ragouzis
2004

Christian,

Thanks for putting yourself out there. It's a great idea to talk about this, I hope we'll have a good discussion on it.

> Word Tables Dialog
Well, this was/is a trick question, of course. Wonder what they do if someone says forgetta'bout the whole thing?

The core problem is that, for just the audience that needs help constructing tables, a structured dialog is an inappropriate
beginning. Table construction begins with the basics: just start typing your table data. This action is obvious and nearly
unambiquous to most such programs ... and Word already has the engine for it (for the beginning of it, I should say). Further down
the line ... the embellishments are also inappropriate to give in a dialog box. So overall, as a respondent, you're left with the
decision of passing, or taking a very long time to describe the solution in a way that makes it realistic!

Best,
--Nick

-----Original Message-----
From: discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com
[mailto:discuss-interactiondesigners.com-bounces at lists.interactiondesigners.com] On Behalf Of Christian Simon
Sent: Friday, February 06, 2004 11:59 AM
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Crit my cooper test, ehehe

Interaction designers in the sf bay area may remember a job post
(11/25/2003) for interaction designer at the sf office of cooper. <D Notice 2003 11 25.pdf>

Their application invites applicants to take their optional "interaction test" with your application. As I discussed in this forum
my background is in graphic design and my work history in interaction is largely self taught. I read the test and thought it could
help my application. I have been asked before by prospective employers to take tests. I usually decline, because I feel that if the
office can't tell the quality of a person from their portfolio and an interview then a test is not going to make any difference (and
actually makes me question the management's understanding of what they expect from their employees).

The cooper test says at the bottom "it should be fun" and it was. The test was relatively vague with details of their expectations.
I read the test, imagined a possible solution, estimated the time to take the test, and set time limits for myself. I wrote a
proposal that I felt was a reasonable examination of the problem and then provided a viable solution. While it was nice to receive a
thank you email moments after having sent my application, it was a let down to not to get an invitation-not that I much expected
one.

So, I'm looking at my site and see this test I posted for cooper. I think to my self why not post it to this group. I made the
effort to take it, its a shame to let it got to waste when it is really only of interest to cooper.

A Friday distraction.
Take a look and drop me your opinion.
Xtian

file: http://www.christiansimon.com/coopertest/

Some questions might be,
1) For you serious interaction designers, and you know who you are, read the test and decide if you feel it necessitates a
particular standard response. Does my response satisfy this criteria?

2) The test does not indicate a time limit. I choose to time myself rather then take extra time to craft my response. Simply put,
based on my response is thr test's challenge answered or should I have chosen another strategy (and possibly taken more time to
craft my response)?

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6 Feb 2004 - 3:44pm
Andrei Herasimchuk
2004

Interesting. Here's some food for thought. I won't crit your solutions
specifically, but will say this as a general comment:

1) Really think about the presentation. Once you get basic wireframes
like this down, you really need to make sure you also pay as much
attention to how it is presented. This is something interaction
designers need to push in themselves, imo. The presentation itself is
as important as the solution you are offering. In fact, it's one of the
barriers we face getting our work pushed through the corporate process.

Get out Tufte's Envisioning Information and use it to find ways of
presenting your work in a light that it deserves. Get some color and
shading in there, work on the layering and separation of content to
better make the points you speak to. Choose a typeface that inspires
you. The design will speak much louder with a presentation that is
wrapped up in a clear concise, elegant package.

2) On the dialog box approach, I'd say go farther. Get outside the box.
There's nothing in the test requirements that say you can't completely
redesign the feature, so why not try? Moving the dialogs together is
moderately interesting, but the problem has so much more meat to it
that you don't want to pass up the opportunity to enjoy the entire
range of issues that can be solved. Part of the test is to see how far
you'll go with a design problem.

For example, who says the new solution needs to be dialog based? What
would happen if you explored ideas around a much richer direct
manipulation sort of interaction? Maybe put the controls and values for
the table directly on the page, annotate it with icons and fields and
find ways to allow the user build and construct the table more
interactively, and better, *in context* on the page rather than going
through the process of diving in and out of dialogs? Maybe avoid a
wizard dialog approach, in favor of finding a direct manipulation that
also happens to teach people what the feature is all about? Direct
manipulation as a design practice got lost a little bit in the web
shuffle, but now out operating systems are much more powerful and
desktop apps/thin clients are making a comeback, the OS can be
exploited more in this realm.

I think what's important by these sorts of tests and exercises is not
so much that the solution can be made a reality. There will be all
sorts of technical, political and engineering issues that would have to
be solved to make any new design work. But one should use these
exercises and tests as an opportunity to completely break outside the
comfort level you might live in on a day to day to basis. Especially if
you are doing them for interviews.

Just my 2 cents on this Friday at lunch. I'll look more deeply at the
specific solutions, but this was just a cursory thought I was skimmed
through it.

Andrei Herasimchuk
andrei at adobe.com

work: http://www.adobe.com
personal: http://www.designbyfire.com

6 Feb 2004 - 3:57pm
Brad Lauster
2003

What a fun idea!

I don't really need any critiques, but you may be interested to see the
Cooper test I wrote back in 2000:

http://bradlauster.com/files/brad-lauster-cooper-design-test.pdf

Reading it now, it seems amateurish, but in 2000 it was good enough to
get an interview.

I was asked back for a second interview but I wasn't offered a job. The
reason Kim Goodwin gave was, essentially, that I didn't spend enough
time at the white board or make enough proposals during the design
sessions I attended.

This observation was spot-on. I spent the three days before my second
interview preparing for and giving a talk at a big Intel face to face
meeting (where I worked at the time). When I arrived for my interview I
was completely exhausted! Lesson learned: don't be afraid to reschedule
an interview.

I have a lot of respect for the Cooper hiring process. I think I spent
more time with actual staff doing actual work during those interviews
than I have during interviews with any other company.

Cheers!
--Brad Lauster

p.s. Yes, I totally ripped off the TiVo interface for my message phone
solution.

On Feb 6, 2004, at 11:58 AM, Christian Simon wrote:
** SNIP **
> So, I'm looking at my site and see this test I posted for cooper. I
> think to
> my self why not post it to this group. I made the effort to take it,
> its a
> shame to let it got to waste when it is really only of interest to
> cooper.
>
> A Friday distraction.
> Take a look and drop me your opinion.
> Xtian
>
>
> file: http://www.christiansimon.com/coopertest/
** SNIP **

6 Feb 2004 - 5:40pm
Christian Simon
2003

>Thanks for putting yourself out there.
Every-day. (>_<)

>> Word Tables Dialog
> The core problem is that, for just the audience that needs help constructing
> tables, a structured dialog is an inappropriate
> beginning. Table construction begins with the basics: just start typing your
> table data. This action is obvious and nearly
> unambiquous to most such programs ... and Word already has the engine for it
> (for the beginning of it, I should say). Further down
> the line ... the embellishments are also inappropriate to give in a dialog
> box.

You have eloquently summed up the problem. I knew it was a trick question.
Your characterization reminded me of the GoLive approach using a palette and
inspector. Since Microsoft Word does not use this in the the rest of the
interface, the only answer, without redefining the Word UI, was to move the
details further into the dialog and simplifying the initial insertion
dialog. Hard core users could argue that this is logical but not practical,
and more choices up front should be available for the expert user.
Christian

6 Feb 2004 - 6:47pm
sandeepblues
2003

Interview questions are intended to see how you think.
The thought process is equally important to the end
result.

While your response (I skimmed it) captured a
depth-first thought process, it doesn't have a long
list of brainstormed ideas...you know...go for
quantity and reserve judgement.

Then, if you had included out-of-box ideas, as well as
in-the-box ideas, and then, stated why you might go
for the in-the-box idea (i.e. won't be accepted by MS
management), then at least your thought process would
have been justified.

Sandeep

6 Feb 2004 - 8:41pm
Christian Simon
2003

> While your response (I skimmed it) captured a
> depth-first thought process, it doesn't have a long
> list of brainstormed ideas...
What do you mean by "depth-first thought process"?

> you know...go for
> quantity and reserve judgement.
Go for points! Good advise.
Xtian

7 Feb 2004 - 2:54am
sandeepblues
2003

Sorry. "depth first" might have been a geeky term.

Basically, when trying to solve a problem, you can
imagine that your mind creates a deciasion tree, and
you pick a certain path in that tree (like your might
pick in a family tree) to decide on a final design. At
each point in the path, there might be many possible
choices to make. These choices make up the breadth of
your decision tree. If you spend time doing breadth
first thinking (i.e. brainstorming), you are expanding
your potential options at each node, and are being
creative. If you go depth-first, then you are making
quick decisions and are being analytical...and
potentially, not giving out-of-the-box options a
chance to come to life.

You have probably heard of idea logs. A good idea log
usually has a lot of switching back and forth between
breadth first and depth-first thinking.

Sandeep

--- Christian Simon <christiansimon at pacbell.net>
wrote:
> > While your response (I skimmed it) captured a
> > depth-first thought process, it doesn't have a
> long
> > list of brainstormed ideas...
> What do you mean by "depth-first thought process"?
>
> > you know...go for
> > quantity and reserve judgement.
> Go for points! Good advise.
> Xtian
>

8 Feb 2004 - 4:23pm
Christian Simon
2003

I'm reading your responses in digest so I'm sorry for the lateness of my
answers. Asking people to crit work can be good or there are no responses at
all. Your answers show the variety of interests as well as passion when
commenting on someone else's work. Cheers.

>Andrei wrote:
> 2) On the dialog box approach, I'd say go farther. Get outside the box.
> There's nothing in the test requirements that say you can't completely
> redesign the feature, so why not try? Moving the dialogs together is
As I said, I thought of this as a trick question. As a trick question I
thought the answer should be simple or obvious. I read the question as "What
is wrong with Microsoft's implementation of the dialog box?". Expecting a
trick answer, I chose to correct what I thought was an error in logic. Your
idea shows your experience.

The idea of directly manipulating the table is obvious, and I instantly
thought of the goLive palette/focus ui solution. However, I evaluated this
direction as making a sever change to the existing ui. If I had thought of
it in similar terms I now believe I may have returned a better answer.

>brad wrote:
> ... that I didn't spend enough
> time at the white board or make enough proposals during the design
> sessions I attended.
I'm not familiar with the hiring process, r u saying they invited u to
attend a *real* work meeting? Curious.

> Sandeep wrote:
> These choices make up the breadth of
> your decision tree. If you spend time doing breadth
> first thinking (i.e. brainstorming), you are expanding
> your potential options at each node, and are being
> creative.
It is a rare treat to hear creativity so easily defined. ehehe

To answer my own questions, my findings are:
> 1) For you serious interaction designers, and you know who you are, read the
> test and decide if you feel it necessitates a particular standard response.
> Does my response satisfy this criteria?
Several people noted that the answer should show a capacity to think out of
the box. My response was both a box and a solution. I could better served
the test with a conclusion to show my thinking. This would have given the
context for my answer(s). It would have been an appropriate way to comment
on the possibilities of the solution.

> 2) The test does not indicate a time limit. I choose to time myself rather
> then take extra time to craft my response. Simply put, based on my response
> is thr test's challenge answered or should I have chosen another strategy
> (and possibly taken more time to craft my response)?
Details are necessary to give the impression of excellence in methodology,
rather than conveying understanding of method. This is where the test would
go beyond what I saw as it's initial purpose, to get a glimpse of first
reactions, and venture further into displaying a passion for challenge.

Thanks,
Christian

10 Feb 2004 - 9:46pm
Kim Goodwin
2004

Interesting discussion. I congratulate Christian and Brad for their
boldness--getting critique isn't always easy, but we never grow as designers
without it.

I've been debating whether to respond to the thread. I won't comment on the
test or the responses other than to say there is no single right answer we
look for. However, since we're all about promoting the growth of our field,
I do think the reasoning behind the test is worth mentioning. It's useful
for two situations:

1. A potentially brilliant designer has had limited opportunities to
demonstrate that brilliance via a resume or portfolio, or for some reason
can't show us that brilliant work. Interaction design is a young field, so
there are plenty of self-taught people out there with pedigrees that
wouldn't attract an HR person to their resumes. We don't want to miss out on
those people.

2. A verification that a designer who looks brilliant on the resume and in
the portfolio actually IS brilliant. As a hiring manager, I have no way of
knowing which aspects of the work in a portfolio are the applicant's, and
which are brilliant ideas contributed by someone else on the team for that
project--even when the applicant is articulate and bright and has a great
resume. The best way to assess that is to ask people to demonstrate what
they can do unassisted, then determine if that's a match for our particular
and somewhat unique needs.

Also, since Brad mentioned other aspects of the Cooper hiring process, I'll
remove the mystery. After a candidate passes the written test and interview,
we ask for an in-person "live" design test that tells us more about how
people think and as how they perform under pressure (as they eventually
would with a client in the room). After that, candidates join us for a full
day in the office, joing at least 2 design meetings. (These may or may not
be real client problems, depending on the sensitivity of the projects
in-house). We're looking to see how they collaborate, how much they're aware
of meeting dynamics, and how well they contribute. At this point, the entire
design staff has input into the hiring decision. Because we work in very
close collaboration on small teams, everyone needs to be comfortable with
and confident in a future team member. Just as important, the candidate gets
to see whether we really practice what we preach, and whether he or she
enjoys the work we do.

This method has worked very well for us, and we're even helping some of our
clients implement it. It is very time-consuming, though.
__________
Cooper | humanizing technology
Kim Goodwin
VP & General Manager
Direct 415.267.3509
Fax 415.267.3501
kim at cooper.com <mailto:kim at cooper.com> | www.cooper.com
<http://www.cooper.com/>
49 Stevenson Street, Suite 1200
San Francisco CA 94105
All information in this message is proprietary & confidential.

-----Original Message-----
From: Christian Simon [mailto:christiansimon at pacbell.net]
Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2004 1:23 PM
To: discuss-interactiondesigners.com at lists.interactiondesigners.com
Subject: [ID Discuss] Crit my cooper test, ehehe

I'm reading your responses in digest so I'm sorry for the lateness of my
answers. Asking people to crit work can be good or there are no responses at
all. Your answers show the variety of interests as well as passion when
commenting on someone else's work. Cheers.

>Andrei wrote:
> 2) On the dialog box approach, I'd say go farther. Get outside the box.
> There's nothing in the test requirements that say you can't completely
> redesign the feature, so why not try? Moving the dialogs together is
As I said, I thought of this as a trick question. As a trick question I
thought the answer should be simple or obvious. I read the question as "What
is wrong with Microsoft's implementation of the dialog box?". Expecting a
trick answer, I chose to correct what I thought was an error in logic. Your
idea shows your experience.

The idea of directly manipulating the table is obvious, and I instantly
thought of the goLive palette/focus ui solution. However, I evaluated this
direction as making a sever change to the existing ui. If I had thought of
it in similar terms I now believe I may have returned a better answer.

>brad wrote:
> ... that I didn't spend enough
> time at the white board or make enough proposals during the design
> sessions I attended.
I'm not familiar with the hiring process, r u saying they invited u to
attend a *real* work meeting? Curious.

> Sandeep wrote:
> These choices make up the breadth of
> your decision tree. If you spend time doing breadth
> first thinking (i.e. brainstorming), you are expanding
> your potential options at each node, and are being
> creative.
It is a rare treat to hear creativity so easily defined. ehehe

To answer my own questions, my findings are:
> 1) For you serious interaction designers, and you know who you are, read
the
> test and decide if you feel it necessitates a particular standard
response.
> Does my response satisfy this criteria?
Several people noted that the answer should show a capacity to think out of
the box. My response was both a box and a solution. I could better served
the test with a conclusion to show my thinking. This would have given the
context for my answer(s). It would have been an appropriate way to comment
on the possibilities of the solution.

> 2) The test does not indicate a time limit. I choose to time myself rather
> then take extra time to craft my response. Simply put, based on my
response
> is thr test's challenge answered or should I have chosen another strategy
> (and possibly taken more time to craft my response)?
Details are necessary to give the impression of excellence in methodology,
rather than conveying understanding of method. This is where the test would
go beyond what I saw as it's initial purpose, to get a glimpse of first
reactions, and venture further into displaying a passion for challenge.

Thanks,
Christian

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Interaction Design Discussion List
discuss at interactiondesigners.com
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to change your options (unsubscribe or set digest):
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Questions: lists at interactiondesigners.com
--
Announcement Online List (discussion list members get announcements already)
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