editione1.0.2Updated February 27, 2023
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.
With COVID-19 taking most interviews from on-site to remote, it helps to set up your space in advance and to get familiar with the conferencing software.
Depending on how your home setup works, you may have one or two extra monitors in addition to your laptop. Usually the laptop will have a camera but the displays will not. Since you’ll want to face your interviewers, my recommendation is to project your presentation on your display in front of you, while having your presentation notes (if you’re presenting in a note-style format) in front of you on the laptop.
Although there’s plenty of advice out there about how you can buy a better camera or even link up a DSLR to a computer, the truth is most of the interview will be focused on your presentation. Even in your behavioral interviews, it’s likely that you’ll have to pop back into your portfolio to show an example or two. So it’s OK to use the standard camera on your laptop. Just make sure the lens is clean and you’re in a place that has plenty of natural light so that people can clearly see you and your face.
As you may know by now, I’m a huge fan prototyping, whether it’s your pitch or your portfolio. So it should be no surprise that you need to prototype your remote setup as well. Hop on a conference call with a friend (or even with yourself from another device, like your mobile phone). Try to simulate the real interviewing setup as much as possible. Use the conferencing tool that the company you’re interviewing with will be using. You want to make sure everything is properly installed and you have the right permissions enabled so that you don’t run into any issues while presenting, thus avoiding wasting precious time during the interview. Lastly, this will also help you develop that muscle memory for how to quickly share your screen.
Now that you have all the technical hurdles behind you, it’s time to dive in. One way to kick off is to let the people in the room introduce themselves first. This allows for a nice segue into your own intro via the presentation deck.
Your intro is your unique frame of your identity as a designer. Use this opportunity to weave a story about your education, background, interests, and your unique perspective, ending with why you’re excited to be interviewing with the company today.
As an interviewer evaluating a candidate—this intro is critical. You want to confidently communicate your story to send a clear signal to interviewers that you’re deliberate and intentional in your career path. Don’t shy away from revealing relevant hobbies; this is an opportunity for you to come across as a whole person, not just as a designer who consumes coffee and produces pixels. As an interviewer I want to know what makes you tick, what are your strong areas, and what aspects of design excite you the most.