At the beginning of each calendar year, most organisations will map out their business goals and analyse the gaps that must be filled, which creates a list of vacancies.

I’ve found myself sitting in an interview for hiring a new designer quite often. Sometimes I make a final decision; sometimes, I contribute my vote. 

Perhaps, I could share how to get a solid yes from me in your design interview. 

Before the interview:

The first impression matters, and it’s not happening in the first meet or initial reach out. It happened even before you knew it happened.

If we’ve never worked together before, your online portfolio is my first impression.  Also, your résumé could be the first impression to our recruiter team at their pre-screen state.

The designer without a portfolio is like a boxer without a guard. Featured at least 1–3 of the best works in your portfolio and highlighted the most relevant experiences in your résumé. Keep it brief, simple, but outstanding.

During the interview

Besides greeting and intro, we probably spend most of the time discussing your works. There are three particular things I’m trying to understand from you.

First, I want to understand your thinking process. Can you explain your design decisions? How do you interpret the data and research? Does your decision correlate with customer problems, brand and business strategy?

Second, I want to see your design process. How do you turn an idea into execution? How do you manage your design file or work with a design system? Do you have a good sense of typography, colours, spacing, etc.? Perhaps, it’s worth checking my design standards article here.

Third, I want to see how do you communicate your design with your peers. How do you ensure the design quality meets once built? How do you iterate your design? How do you dealing with conflict, compromise, or confrontation?

In the end, I should understand your design approach, e.g. you’re 50% think, 30% design, 20% communicate. Which help me assesses how will you perform once hired and see if you could fill the gaps in our team.

After the interview 

What you have done in the past is essential, but more importantly, what you will do in the future. Your aptitude is only half of the picture—your attitude is matters.

Do you have the right mindset, work ethic, or fit the team culture? What makes you, you? Nope, I’m not only looking for like-minded people—as it’s only causing a collective blindspot and kills the innovation.

Additionally, do you have something I can learn from? Yes, I will be jealous and panic if you’re much better than me, but I will hire you anyway. In today’s rapidly shifting economic landscape, I want to harvest from your excellence to progress my career. 


To wrap it all up

Whether you get an offer or not, you’ll gain more connections! Keep in touch with people you interact with. You never know, the tech world is not that big anymore.

We cannot work in isolation to achieve ambitious goals. Keep working hard and be nice to people.

Hey, if you’re a great Product Designer and lives in Sydney—ping me! I always have myself in a fun place that needs more designers—I’m keen to know you!

Grab my free designer’s interview cheat sheet.