What I Learned From My First Design Interview

Alec O'Grady
Feb 21, 2018 · 4 min read

On Thursday morning, I woke up feeling excited, nervous and prepared. I practiced interview questions in the shower, listened to design podcasts while skating to work, and read articles on design challenges during my lunch break. As the clock hit 2:15, I walked over to the building across Market St. It was time for my interview.

I came out of the interview feeling happy. I nailed it! I knew that I did everything well and answered all their questions thoroughly. I was convinced I got the job.

Fast forward to the next Friday. As I was walking to lunch, my phone buzzed. I whipped my phone out at a lighting fast rate as I had done every time my phone vibrated for the past week. The subject read, “Thank You”. My heart sank.

I knew right then that I didn’t get the job. While I felt angry and sad, I realized I would’ve been super lucky to get the first job that I interviewed for. It would’ve been nice, but super lucky. Interviewing has been such a learning experience. Here are a few things I’ve learned from my first Product Designer interview.

Your Story is Important

I had three interviews with three different people, and all of them asked me about my story. Your story is ultimately who you are and how you ended up in this field. Everyone’s story is unique, so make sure to go into detail. Don’t be afraid to own it!

How I had gotten into UX?

How am I different than the other candidates?

How will my background help influence my designs?

Practice telling your story to others. Once you have an outline, you can starting telling it and getting feedback. This is crucial, as with anything else in design. I found that my first story was too boring and didn’t demonstrate who I was before I started my career in design.

Always Ask For Feedback

As the interview was coming to an end, I asked for another round of feedback. This was invaluable information. They told me what I can work on for any future interviews and what I can do to help further my work as a designer.

There’s no shame in asking for feedback. Feedback is necessary as you grow in any field, and asking shows that you actually want to learn and get better.

They’re Not Just Looking At Your Portfolio

Your portfolio is there to showcase your work, and give them a better understanding of who you are. But, who’s better at talking about yourself, than you?!

During my in-person interview, I was very aware of my body positions, what I was saying and how I was interacting with all my interviewers. During the few hours that you’re there, they’re looking at everything to make sure you’re the right fit, and what value you can bring to the company.

By the time you get to an on-site, they’ve seen your work. Now it’s time to see who you are and what you can do. Show them.

I actually loved my on-site interview. I was nervous beforehand, but once I stepped into the building, I was ready. I was ready to talk about myself and my designs for the next few hours.

Stay Positive, Stay Motivated, Keep Learning

After getting a denial email, it’s so easy to feel disappointed and mope around and not job hunt for the next few days. But that’s not the right course of action. I’m not saying it’s easy to move on and keep producing. Getting denied can be very demotivating. It’s actually really hard to just let go, but it’s something you need to do if you want to get a job faster.

Every night, I’ve been polishing my design skills and learning more about the industry. I don’t know everything and I have so much to learn. Now is the time to do it.

One aspect that works for me is to just keep creating. Whether that’s through design, writing, making videos, etc… As long as it’s all helping push myself forward as a designer, I’ll do it. Plus, it makes it easier once you get going, because it won’t seem like work.

This won’t be the last time I don’t get a job. I plan to keep all this in mind as I continue interviewing. I already have a few points I can work on and improve as I go into my next interviews.


I hope you enjoyed this article! Consider giving it a few 👏🏻! As always, you can find me on Instagram, Twitter & my website.

Alec O'Grady

Written by

UX Designer // Photographer // Filmmaker {Currently in San Francisco}

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