Tips for interviewing

OK so you’ve been invited to present to the design team and meet personally with various designers 1-on-1. What should you expect? How should you prepare? Here’s some general tips to help.

* Portfolio presentation: Again, show your best work with more elaboration of process and follow-through. Tell a compelling story that presents your solutions, abilities, and approach. I personally like to see a range, with evidence of sketching :-)

* If you are a junior designer, fresh out of school: expect questions about your short-term goals, your insights from class projects, what you hope to learn, appraisals of your passion/eagerness to learn (as well as for the domain) and specific skills for on-the-ground kinda work (creating deliverables, making presentations, taking direction from senior level folks, handling criticism and ability to grow)

* If you are a mid-level designer, with 3-5 yrs of experience: expect questions about lessons learned in your work, likes/dislikes about project phases and approaches, general career goals/paths, collaboration experiences, areas of growth/learning, evidence of adaptability, dealing with multiple projects.

* If you area senior designer, with 7+ yrs of experience: expect discussions about your design philosophy, principles, career vision/path, strategic thinking about problems, staging conversations with stakeholders (including executives), management/directing of designers and projects, etc.

* For anybody, expect a design exercise as a way to feel firsthand your ability to assess a problem quickly and generate solutions on the fly with input from the interviewers. It’s not really about the solutions per se, but your thinking style and design approaches. Do you like to write a bunch of stuff first or draw a lot of stuff? Are you referencing common patterns and models? Are you drawing logical inferences? Are you pulling creative insights from other domains or samples in your past work? Can you speak clearly and effectively and take criticism well?

* And as they always say, be yourself, be authentic and true. Putting on a slick sales job doesn’t help much (unless you’re applying for “evangelist” ;-)

* Finally, if you’re applying for a design position, make sure you really mean it. I know how everybody says they want to do design, research, manage, or somehow avoid “being silo’d” and try to weasel out with some vague, general language when asked “what do you want to do”. Just pick one focus/passion with evidence to back it up. Wanna be a designer? Then man up and show that you deserve to be in that role. (likewise for research, docs/writer, etc.)

Leave a Reply