You’re reading an excerpt of Land Your Dream Design Job, a book by Dan Shilov. Filled with hard-won, personal insights, it is a comprehensive guide to landing a product design role in a startup, agency, or tech company, and covers the entire design interview process from beginning to end, for experienced and aspriring designers. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

Behavioral Interview Format at a Glance

The goal of cross-functional interviews is to get a 360-degree view of how you approach your work and collaborate with others. Typically these will be one-on-one interviews about 30 minutes each or one-hour pair interviews.

If you’re applying for an in-house role (either at a startup or a large company), you’ll talk with cross-functional peers in product and engineering. You might also have a researcher or a data scientist sit in. For agency roles, you’ll be primarily speaking with designers.

The best way to prepare for your final interview is by actively working with your recruiter. Find out what to expect, the schedule, and the people you’ll be speaking with. Lastly, many companies are starting to do behavioral interviews over the phone or a video conference. While the format is different, many of the same principles apply.

important When you’re presenting your portfolio, you usually get into the details of the situation and provide specific examples because no projects are alike. Same with behavioral interviews—get specific and answer the question succinctly. Aim to respond to the question in about two to three minutes. Hypothetical responses that err on how one should or in theory might do things aren’t good responses as they don’t give the interviewer a clear signal of how you actually handled things in the past.

The behavioral interview format might also vary. Some companies, for instance, have a “lunch social” interview. While the goal of this interview is to give candidates a breather and not get barraged by interview questions—you’ll still want to be on your best behavior and treat this casual format as just another type of interview.

Peer Design Interview

Usually, right after your portfolio presentation you’ll be slated for a peer design interview. If that’s the case, expect some detailed follow-up questions on your work. They’ll also dig into:

  • Your past experience. Anything that was mentioned in your portfolio, resume, LinkedIn, and so on.

  • Design collaboration. How you work with other designers.

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