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.

Improve: What Could Be Better?

As you step back, try to view through the eyes of an outside observer, as if you’re watching yourself and the interviewer from the sidelines.

  • How did you come across?

  • What did you miss?

  • What could you have done better?

How you frame your response matters. For example, if you’re talking about conflict—make sure you communicate that you’ve learned from it and not blame the other party (even if they were to blame, it doesn’t matter in an interview setting).

Other times, an opportunity for improvement isn’t necessarily a mistake but a missed opportunity to put yourself in the best light possible. Perhaps there was a particularly thorny problem that you were able to solve because you made a connection that others didn’t see, based on your previous experience or learning outside of work.

The point of this prompt isn’t to beat yourself up over small mistakes. Instead, it’s a chance to think about areas of opportunity and what’s in your control. Prioritize and work on those first—your future interviewing self will thank you.

Learn: What Did You Find Out?

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.Maya Angelou

Another thing to note is what you learned and how you felt during the interview.

story“What’s your favorite brand?” asked the hiring manager during an on-site interview. I paused to think, as brand wasn’t my forte, but gave an explanation for why I thought Airbnb was doing meaningful work in experiences. “I hate Airbnb. What’s your next one?” she shot back. Later she proceeded to tear apart my portfolio. This interview was enough for me to learn everything I needed to learn about this company’s culture.

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