selecting an associate for the GIMP

22 September 2006, 12:26

I have just finished the selection procedure for the openUsability sponsored student project: GIMP. This is a project where I work with an associate interaction architect on revamping the GIMP. This project is also the pilot for the season of usability initiative.

From the jump in the server statistics for I can see that the news of the student project spread around the net infectiously on August 11th. This caused a first wavelet of applications. We closed the application period a month later, the announcement of which triggered a second wavelet.

  • fourteen people applied for the position;
  • quite an international showing, with applications coming from Europe, USA, Russia and India;
  • a significantly high number of applicants (5) were born in the countries formerly of the Warsaw pact, although only one was still living and studying in that part of the world;
  • I selected three applicants for phone interviews, and all turned out to be from the Warsaw pact faction, maybe it is just something in the water…


So how does one identify an up‐and‐coming interaction architect? In the requirements section of the advertisement you can already see what I was looking for, but I will elaborate on those words here.

‘Interaction architects need to see from the user point of view, know what makes user interfaces tick, have a mathematical eye for the beauty of the simplest solution, a sense for clean layouts and know what can be developed in practice’
ps, in the original advertisement


There are five disciplines in the quote above and I was really looking for evidence of all of them in the CVs I reviewed. And I was looking for balance. A straightforward university education in usability, graphic/product/interaction design, software engineering, mathematics or psychology can give you a background in at most 1½ of these disciplines.

This skews a CV and needs compensation by evidence that the applicant went out before or in parallel to the current studies to obtain a background in the other disciplines. No need for a handful of university diplomas, just any kind of experience that can give me a vibe of the particular discipline will do.


Another vibe I look for in a CV is an absolute determination to make it in interaction architecture. This is still absolutely necessary in the software and web industry of today.

When graduates do not stick to their guns, the industry they enter will fob them off on jobs like UI or web developer, web graphic designer, functional analyst, requirements specifier, product marketing person or the token usability tester. All of these jobs leave zero opportunity to take charge and introduce solid concepts for interaction.

So absolute determination is needed for aspiring interaction architects in order break the vicious circle of no awareness in the industry of how strategic interaction is to their bottom line, and few jobs for interaction architects.

to be, or not to be…

A final point I want to touch upon here is the topic of owning ‘it.’ I reviewed several CVs of applicants who are totally fascinated by interaction, and are really determined to make it their profession. But they are still looking at it from the outside, looking forward to enter the field.

To get the job of associate interaction architect one’s to be one, no matter how little experience one’s got. It is a state of mind.

the result

After the phone interviews it was clear to me that Kamila Giedrojć is the applicant who meets the requirements above most successfully. I look forward to kicking off the project with her.

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