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.

Interview Format and Criteria

App critiques usually last 30–45 minutes. Typically, you’ll interview with one or two designers. Either you’ll be asked to bring an app for critique (based on interviewer criteria) or the interviewers will pick one for you.

Your interviewers will assess you on:

  • Collaboration. How receptive are you to feedback? How do you react to different opinions? How effectively can you facilitate the critique?

  • Craft. How well can you reverse engineer an app, breaking it down to its first principles?

The craft component will vary depending on the specific role you’re applying for. For visual design, you’ll zero in on the UI. UX design roles will focus on information architecture and interaction design. Product design roles tend to be generalist, so expect a mix of both.

Based on how you approach the problem and how you respond to questions, your interviewers will also try to gauge which part of the design process is exciting to you.

Don’t forget the interviewer’s perspective. As they’re watching you critique the app, they’re also evaluating if they can work with you day-to-day. How you show up matters. Same goes for you—use this opportunity to see if the culture of this team resonates with you.

important If you’re critiquing an app remotely, instead of trying to hold up your phone to the camera, it’s a better experience to dial into the meeting with your phone and share your phone screen. I definitely recommend you practice dialing in and setting up your phone permissions ahead of time as the setup can get tricky and you don’t want to be wasting precious time during the interview fiddling with settings.

Establishing App Critique Objectives

Before diving into the app critique, it’s important to understand how the critique will be carried out. Your interviewers might give you a general prompt like “critique app X” or get specific: “how can app X maximize revenue from its existing customer base?”

In either case, start with high-level objectives:

  • Context. If you’re bringing in an app yourself, let the interviewers know why you’ve selected it. If an app has been picked for you, you can set the context based on what you know about it.

  • You’re reading a preview of an online book. Buy it now for lifetime access to expert knowledge, including future updates.
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