5 Ways To Nail Your Design Job Phone Interview

Although this post is primarily geared for design jobs, it is conceivable that these tips will also work for most phone interviews. First off, phone interviews are generally conducted because the hiring manager liked something they saw in your resume or portfolio and keep in mind that the company is usually looking to hire someone because of some specific need. My company is currently looking for a UX Designer who has a demonstrated ability to solve design problems for complex business applications. Thus, here is your first tip…

Tip 1: Prepare questions ahead of time

I can’t tell you how many times candidates get on the phone and they don’t have any questions for me. That is a bad sign. It shows you probably haven’t given much thought to this particular role or are not that interested in helping me determine if you are capable of solving our business problem.

Tip 2: Ask what caused you to select me for this phone interview?

This will help you to get to the heart of why the company is looking for a candidate in the first place. Companies are looking to solve problems and it is your job to explore the problem the company is looking to solve. Sounds pretty simple right? Also, this helps you determine if this is the kind of work you would like to do while working there. Nice to know this ahead of time right? Also, this question should lead towards a more insightful discussion of what makes you special rather than an interviewer blindly fishing through your work history in chronological order hoping to glean something of value.

Tip 3: Do your homework on the company and interviewer

You should know the company that is interviewing you and the recruiter should also give you the name of the person who will be conducting the phone interview well before the phone interview happens. As stunning as this may sound in the age of Google, it still happens where the candidate does not know much of anything about the company or the interviewer. Ummm… Yes, this is bad. Don’t be that person. Recently, I had a candidate refer to something in my online portfolio. It showed me that this person really understands how to distinguish themselves and that I could trust that they would bring that level of preparation with them to our team.

Tip 4: Be prepared to talk about what makes you different

Selling yourself is never easy but here is the deal — you are special. The interviewer just doesn’t know you that well and lacks the time to really explore it with you. The other issue is that interviewer has the problem of conducting a lot of phone interviews. So, make it easy on the interviewer and have this ready in advance. More specifically, show them…

Tip 5: Tell a great story

I cannot stress this enough — be a great storyteller. Only you know what your unique contribution was on any given project.

We live in a marketplace of ideas — this is the currency of how we are measured — the ideas we bring to the table.

Keep in mind, once you know why the company is looking to hire someone, you should be able to not only call up a story that gets somewhat close to what the company needs but you should also be able to point to something in your portfolio that helps you paint this picture. You literally want the interviewer to look at something specific in your portfolio because this will get them more invested in how you think. Talk about the team make up, a short summary of the business and technical constraints, and then what unique perspective you added to the process. By the way, this is not the time to say “we” all the time. For example, “we looked at competitive examples, then we interviewed stakeholders, then we determined that users wanted to do this instead…” Clearly, you do not work in a vacuum, but at the same time, I cannot hire your whole team. I am interested in what made you strand out. Perhaps, think of it this way, if members of the team where also on the phone with you, what would they say about your contribution. What unique insight did you bring to the table. Maybe your perspective was not immediately given much weight and you had to fight to get enough members on board with your idea. Maybe you had to bring other data to the table. What eventually turned the tide in your favor…

Now, go forth and tell a great story!

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