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.

Hiring Manager Interview

Most of the time the hiring manager for a design role will come from a design background, but in smaller startups they might be an engineer or a PM looking to establish a design team. Depending on who you get, the questions will vary slightly but the objectives are similar.

Usually you’ll talk to them at the end—by this time the other interviewers have submitted feedback or flagged additional things to probe on. In addition to these, the hiring manager will try to assess your:

  • Professionalism. How you carry yourself and how you come across.

  • Career aspirations. Where do you expect to be in the next few years.

  • Team fit. What team would serve you and the company best.

If this is a seasoned manager, they’ll get straight to the point and will ask you the hard questions. Since the final decision rests on them and the consequences of a bad hire are high, they’ll want to make sure there are no remaining red flags. But it’s not all bad cop—they’ll also sell you on the role and the team.

Sample questions you may get asked:

  • What aspect of design is exciting to you? Why?

  • What’s your area of strength?

  • What’s your area of growth?

  • Where do you see yourself in the next few years?

Use this time to learn about your manager as well. Are they growth oriented? Do you feel like you can get along with them? How have they supported designers previously?

Cross-Functional Interviews

After interviewing with the designers, you’ll talk with your cross-functional peers: product managers, engineers, and researchers. The primary goal of these interviews is to understand how well you work with others and measure your level of empathy and consideration of others.

Product Manager

In many cross-functional teams, you’ll work with the PM closely on a daily basis. They’ll want to know:

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