Set Your Environment up for Success



Updated October 11, 2023
Land Your Dream Design Job

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’re choosing to go the analog route, be sure to test your camera set-up and quality ahead of time. It may be worth it to invest in a standalone camera, as opposed to the one that comes with your laptop, because you can easily reposition the camera to point to your notepad or whiteboard while still seeing the interviewer on the screen. Alternatively, you can dial into the meeting with your computer and your phone—using your phone as a standalone camera to point to the sketch.

Modern design tools allow you to share your file on the cloud, which may make collaboration easier while conserving video bandwidth. As an example, if you’re whiteboarding on Figma, you don’t have to share your screen, thus conserving bandwidth. If connectivity becomes an issue you can turn video off and go with audio only.

Regardless of which tool you pick, you may still run into interruptions or connectivity issues. Make sure you account for those and think how you’ll respond when they happen. Having a plan for these now will make it easier for you to navigate these speed bumps as they occur.

Figure: Managing a Remote Whiteboard

If you’re using a design or whiteboard tool, you don’t have to worry about managing space, but you should keep in mind how much time you spend on each section. Just as with the physical whiteboard, you don’t want to spend so much time on context and problem framing that you run out of time to come up with solutions.

Although the double diamond model gives an illusion of a deliberate, contained design process, we know that this is rarely true in actual design practice. The whiteboard challenge is a miniature version of reality. You may have to sometimes briefly revisit a problem or clarify context. Be sure to push on your explorations and definitely make time to get into the details. The further you get, the more productive a conversation you’ll have with your interviewer, who will be asking you increasingly harder questions to challenge your thinking. Take this challenge as an opportunity to show how you think and be sure to demonstrate those ideas in your sketches.

Keep Collaboration in Mind

One of the challenges of the whiteboard is that you may not be able to see the interviewer’s body language. This becomes especially challenging if you’re sharing your screen and the interviewer becomes a small rectangle off to the side. In these cases, it helps to pause and check in with your interviewer from time to time. Since you’ll be primarily driving the interview, you can stop periodically to ask, “Are you with me?” or “Do you have any questions so far?”

important As you know, the key criteria for a whiteboard challenge is collaboration. The remote flavor of this challenge offers a glimpse into how you may work with this designer in the future. Are they collaborative and encouraging? Make sure you write down your thoughts after the exercise.

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