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.
Whiteboard Challenge Format and Criteria
Whiteboard interviews typically range from 30 minutes to one hour. Usually you’ll be interviewed by one or two designers. Similar to the take-home exercise, the whiteboard design challenge is meant to evaluate your skills in a short amount of time with a focus on interaction design and collaboration.
Your interviewers will assess you on:
Problem definition. How well can you explore the problem space and identify big problems to go after?
Solution finding and idea generation. How quickly can you explore multiple creative options without being married to any one idea and identify the best one to develop further?
Interaction design knowledge. How well can you make trade-offs between platforms, or global and local interaction patterns? Is your story and interaction flow coherent?
Collaboration. How well do you work with your interviewers by responding to their prompts and getting them interested in the approach that you’re taking?
You’ll also need to be aware of your main constraint: time. Whiteboard interviews usually last almost an hour—but with initial setup and questions at the end, time will fly. You’ll need to budget appropriately to show strong reasoning and meaningful concepts.
Just as with the app critique, how you come across, your level of self-awareness, matters. Usually you’ll complete one whiteboard interview per company however at some places designers may have to complete two different whiteboard challenges. Typically the first challenge will assess your generative skills while the second interview will focus more on MVP scoping and/or getting the feature to the finish line with engineering.
Going on the Journey Together
Since whiteboards are an artificial challenge, it will be up to the interviewer to properly set you up. As the candidate, you’ll be driving the interview. However, since prompts vary and companies have different expectations, clarify expectations with interviewers up-front:
What outcomes do they expect to see?
How do they want to be engaged?
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