The Ability to Be Critical of Yourself

Basecamp CEO Jason Fried on the response a potential hire gave after working on a paid ‘homework assignment’ to test her skills:

It takes real confidence and self-awareness to talk to someone who’s considering hiring you and telling them that you aren’t sure you like what you did. We dug into it. It wasn’t the idea at large — she was very happy with that — it was a specific flow, a specific part of the design. She did it, but she wasn’t thrilled with it.

That’s how I feel about a lot of my work too. Especially in the early phases. I designed something, or I wrote something, but I’m not sure I really like it yet. While it’s easy to tell yourself that, it’s hard to tell someone else that — especially if they’re evaluating your work.

First off, it’s great Basecamp pays designers for design tests they’re given during the interview process. I’ve done many for potential employers where I’ve never been paid.

Secondly, Jason touches on a topic I’ve talked about with junior designers before which is the ability to be critical of yourself and understanding you and your work are not one and the same.

Part of being a great designer is being able to take criticism: from yourself and from others. You have to know how to listen.