Designing the interview process for Designers

The interview process can be stressful for candidates. Here are some suggestions for making it better.

  • Make the process transparent. Candidates want to know what to expect around “next steps”. Not only is this a courtesy, but a candidate that is left in the dark will move on to other opportunities.
  • Give candidate the chance to say their piece. An interview is a conversation not an interrogation. It’s just as important for a candidate to know that your company is a fit for them as it is for you to know they are a fit for you.
  • Find optimal times to interview. Most of us are not at our best at the earliest hours of the day. If a candidate is doing an all-day on-site interview, why not start an hour or two into the work day? You have to consider that candidates are often traveling, which means they are staying in an unfamiliar place. They probably didn’t sleep as well as they normally would and they’re going to give themselves more time to get ready than a normal predictable morning.
  • Consider the flow of an on-site interview day. Give people breaks periodically throughout the day. It’s really exhausting to talk for hours on end. People need bathroom breaks, fresh air, an opportunity to stretch their legs, a drink of water, time to respond to messages, etc. Also, give your lunch plans careful consideration. Take the candidate somewhere where they won’t feel like taking a nap afterward.
  • Consider the environment for an on-site interview. The environment you subject someone to will have a great effect on their demeanor. Tiny cramped rooms with harsh lighting are not going to promote a lucid conversation. Plus, why wouldn’t you want to put your best foot forward. People want to know that their work environment is going to be comfortable, so don’t start out by making them uncomfortable for an entire day.
  • Give candidates an opportunity to show their skills. A design portfolio is an expectation, but they never tell the full story (I’m often more interested in how people designed their site than the pieces they put in their portfolio). Allow candidates the opportunity to show their process by giving them a design exercise. These can be done either on the day of an on-site interview or given in advance for candidates to work on.

It’s easy to get caught up in the interview process and treat someone more as a commodity than a person you are considering entering a fellowship with. When it’s all said and done, you want a person to feel good about the process of interviewing with your company regardless of whether or not they receive an offer.