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.

If you haven’t had a chance to talk with your design manager during the interview process, definitely make the time to do so now.

You should feel confident that this manager is someone who’s going to help you grow. If something feels off, now’s a good time to clarify. A good manager is like a coach—they’re there to set you and the team up to play your best. They’ll navigate tough decisions with poise. No manager is perfect, but finding someone you can get along with well will make a big difference over time.

important If you’re joining a small company such as a startup, consider requesting a skip level meeting by asking to talk with your manager’s manager or the CEO of the company. In smaller settings the leadership team has an outsize impact and can make or break your experience. How they respond to your questions will help you better gauge the company’s design maturity.

Interviewing People Who Left

Now of course, current company employees will be biased in favor of the company. It’s rare that someone will tell you that the org isn’t in good shape or that the work environment is stressful. So it helps to get a second opinion. Talk to a former designer if there was one. Sometimes interviewing the people who just left will give you an unbiased view of the workplace you’re about to join.

storyWhen I was getting background info on one of my managers, I looked at his connections on LinkedIn. One of those connections—let’s call him David—worked with my manager a few jobs ago. Coincidentally, David also worked closely with a CEO of another company that I interviewed with. Small world!

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