10 Standout Questions for Graphic Designers to Ask in Interviews

Questions for graphic designers to ask in interview chair
Questions for graphic designers to ask in interview chair

At the ripe old age of 29 and six years into my design career, I’ve either taken part in or conducted over 100 interviews. During that time, I’ve hired or helped hire at least 12 junior designers and design interns. My friends like to joke that I’m a professional interviewer — apparently it’s a side hobby I didn’t know I had! Regardless of if I’m hiring for a role or being interviewed for a new opportunity, one question always pops up: “Do you have any questions for me?” When I’m trying to fill a position on my team, more often than not the answer I’ve received in return has been, “Nope!”

This is where a lot of candidates fall flat. Many green designers meet skill and creativity requirements, as this is where they’ve committed their education and time, but many also struggle in business practices such as interviewing where they haven’t had as much exercise. Not asking questions tells a hiring manager that you’re not all that interested in the position, that you’re not a curious person, or that you haven’t put much thought into the opportunity.

Given the sum of my interviewing experience, I wanted to share some of my learnings for those creative professionals who may be struggling in these crucial job search junctions. I’ve had a lot of success asking the following 10 questions — come prepared with these and you’re sure to stand out in your next interview.

1. What is the biggest problem you see this person tackling?

This is one question I always recommend — it puts a spin on the information included in the job description. Instead of asking, “What will I be doing?” it asks, “What problems will I be solving? What obstacles am I facing?” It also shows that you’re solutions-oriented and that you’re not afraid of a challenge.

In what stage of the interview process to ask: Phone screen, interview with your future manager

2. How do you define success for this role?

This question demonstrates interest in achievement and providing value for the company. It tells the hiring team that you don’t just care about what you’ll be working on from day-to-day, you also care about how to maximize those efforts and contribute to collective success.

In what stage of the interview process to ask: Interview with your future manager

3. Are there any metrics or KPIs I’d be responsible for?

Designers are known for their *creativity* but we can also be an analytical bunch given the chance. Asking about metrics shows that you’re interested in not only your own performance, but the team’s and the company’s. Depending on what area of design you’re in, this may be more or less relevant. Web and UX/UI designers will have more evidently measurable goals to strive for, such as conversion rates, A/B testing, time on page, page visits, etc. However, other types of designers can find creative ways to measure their contributions; I’ve been measured by the number of campaigns I contribute to, CTA optimization, and eBook downloads. One caveat to this question: only ask it if you’re actually willing to be held responsible to performance numbers. Some people aren’t interested in this type of evaluation, and that’s okay!

In what stage of the interview process to ask: Phone screen, interview with your future manager

4. What are typical project deadlines?

This will give you a good idea of the team’s pace. It can also quickly reveal whether or not the team is overwhelmed and what work/life balance might be if you joined the organization.

In what stage of the interview process to ask: Phone screen, interviews with current team members

5. What is the approval process like?

Every design job — whether at an agency, on an in-house marketing team, or on a product team — comes with its fair share of red tape. This question will show how many layers your work can expect to go through before seeing the light of day. Are you the final decision maker? Will your work need to go through your team’s chain of command? Does the client need to sign off as well? Approvals can be drawn out and frustrating, so it’s good to know what this process will look like going in to the job.

In what stage of the interview process to ask: Interviews with current team members

6. Are there any design functions you outsource to vendors?

This question helps you get a handle on what you might not be expected to do on the team. It can also reveal whether or not you’d be responsible for those vendor relationships and how that process has worked in the past.

In what stage of the interview process to ask: Interview with your future manager, interviews with current team members

7. How do you tackle project management, and is there a traffic/ops manager for planning and assigning work?

Project management is an entire profession on its own and it can be a real time-suck for designers (who are usually already strapped for time). These questions should reveal two things: if there are any project management platforms in place and if the team employs anyone to handle this type of planning. It’s not necessarily a red flag if there’s not, but expect to spend a good chunk of time planning, organizing, and circulating your projects if that’s the case.

In what stage of the interview process to ask: Phone screen, interview with your future manager

8. Can you tell me more about the other teams I’d be working with?

This inquiry demonstrates that you’re interested in cross-team collaboration and that you’re someone who enjoys working with others. More than likely, you’ll have interaction with other teams and this will give you an introduction to what those teams do and how you can expect your partnership(s) to look.

In what stage of the interview process to ask: Interview with your future manager

9. What are the goals of the company?

Whether or not it’s obvious, your individual position will be affected by the larger company’s activities at one point or another. This question shows a willingness to align to the organization’s mission and that you’re thinking about the company’s trajectory.

In what stage of the interview process to ask: Interview with your future manager or company leadership

10. What is the promotion path for this role?

This question indicates that you can see yourself having a committed tenure at the company for which you’re interviewing. It shows that you’re thinking about the future and that you have goals in mind for your own career.

In what stage of the interview process to ask: Interview with your future manager or company leadership

The fact that you’re reading this means that you’re taking the right steps to prepare — hopefully these questions inspire more of your own! As valuable as they and their answers might be, nothing is more important than a genuine enthusiasm. Best of luck in your next interview!

Written by

Brand & Web Designer working in tech, London-based by way of Chicago | bakehaus.co

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