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.

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.

  • Your working style. Preferences in process and your approach to work.

  • Design focus. Areas of design that you find interesting.

Sample questions you may get asked:

  • How do you keep up-to-date on the latest trends in design?

  • Why are you interested in working here?

  • The PM wanted the design to go a certain way that you thought wasn’t right. How did you defend your rationale?

  • Tell me about a conflict you had with another designer. How did you handle it?

In my experience interviewing candidates, some folks fail to provide an adequate answer to why they’re interested in the position in the first place. It doesn’t have to be anything out of the ordinary. Talking about the team, the role, or specific aspects that you’re hoping to develop are all good starters. Employers want to see people who are interested in the opportunity as opposed to fishing for whatever they can get.

Interviewing with a peer designer also gives you a glimpse of what the design process and design culture is really like. See how they approach their work. What barriers do they encounter? What’s an exciting project they’ve recently worked on? What are they looking to learn next? Get them to open up to learn more about the culture and process.

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.

  • 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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