Mastering Product Design Interviews
Demystifying the Product Design job search process
Interviewing for design roles can be tough. You’ve made your portfolio. You’ve applied to jobs. You hope for the best but no one calls back. Worse yet, you don’t even know what’s happening on the other end. Is the job still available? Did they already pass on me? What’s happening?
Getting a job doesn’t have to be this difficult. I’d like to share a process so that you can position your best self forward. This isn’t about getting a job in UX with no skills or faking your way in. Rather, it’s an opportunity to set the right context for your skills so that you have a good chance of finding a job that fits your skills and sets you up for success.
Over the last decade I’ve worked with various companies—from large corporations, lean agencies, to small and mid-size startups. As a designer I’ve been responsible for evaluating new talent and sat in on countless whiteboard interviews, app critiques, portfolio presentations and peer interviews.
Companies struggle finding the right candidate too. Finding an excellent designer who is a great cultural fit can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. It’s hard to gauge fit through an online portfolio alone which is why there’s an exhaustive (and at times exhausting) design interview process. Knowing what companies expect from designers will give you a better idea of how to prepare and what to present at critical moments so that no questions are left unanswered.
The Product Designer job search journey
This is a work-in-progress and we’re in this journey together. Each week I’ll cover a different part of the job search process and I’d love to get specific feedback along the way — what’s helpful, what’s missing, and what else would you like to see? Feel free to send me a message or comment. Most of all, good luck and enjoy the journey!
1. Managing your design career
Before diving into a flurry of activity it helps to step back and reflect on what kind of designer you are, your values and principles, what you bring to the table and where you want to grow next in your design career journey.
Taking an inventory of your craft and collaboration skills, understanding your strengths and growth areas, thinking about your mindset
Finding a company that supports your growth and helps you reach your potential faster
Standing out by highlighting your personality and superpowers
2. Preparing for the interview
Gather your deliverables, case studies and get ready for the adventure!
Starting your portfolio with this template to land the phone screen
Skipping job boards to make a strong personal connection instead
Getting out of your comfort zone and connecting authentically
Making your online presence work hard for you while you rest
Waiting actively — publishing june 21, 2019
Moving things forward with e-mail and other channels
Acing the phone screen — publishing june 26, 2019
Leaving a good impression
Crushing the take home design exercise — publishing july 3, 2019
Giving it a unique spin and standing out from the crowd
3. Interviewing in person
Congrats! Your hard work and preparation paid off. Now let’s make an impression that knocks their socks off during your on site interview.
Getting ready for the interview
Preparing yourself mentally and physically for the big day
In-person portfolio presentation
Wowing them with your storytelling and facilitation skills
Showing your process, engaging your interviewers, and solving for people
Acing the app critique
Walking them through your approach and how you break down the experience into its component parts
Demonstrating how well you work with product managers, designers, engineers and other folks
Whew what a busy day! Close the interview on a high note that leaves them wanting more
This is an opportunity to step back and understand what went well during your interviews and what could have been better.
Applying lessons learned from your interview to future interviews
You got the job!
Continue interviewing, getting back channel data and rejecting offers
Negotiating your compensation and benefits
Quitting your job
Breaking the news and leaving on a high note
You’ve started at your new job!
Being so good they can’t ignore you — putting your job search on autopilot