Spotify Product Design Interview

An extra from The Product Design Interview book

A few years ago I found myself wanting a different type of design role — one that had a bigger team yet allowed me to have a significant impact to the entire product. I interviewed and landed offers at some of the most coveted design teams like Spotify and Flatiron Health. For Spotify, I felt like though the team was big it was too big for me: I felt I wouldn’t be able to have a significant impact on the product itself. Nonetheless, it was an elaborate interview process that gave me insight into the inner-workings of the design team and product leadership at Spotify and it gave me a sense of accomplishment when I got the offer call. Here, I’ll break down the process and give a preview of the detailed guide I wrote on how to prepare for this day-long interview.

The process itself speaks volumes to how Spotify works a little differently than most design teams. There’s no take-home design challenges, the whiteboarding round is treated a little differently to give candidates space to do individual work, and the 1:1 conversations are focused on you getting your questions answered just as much as the team getting to know you.

What you can expect in the interview loop:

  1. Recruiter screen
  2. Background Phone Screen — Virtual
    45 min · 1 interviewer

Onsite Interview Loop

  1. Portfolio Review with Design Team
    1 hour · 4–8 interviewers
  2. One on one conversations
    4–5 hours · 1 interviewer each
    • Hiring manager
    • Product Manager
    • Product Insights: UX Researcher or Data Scientist
    • Tech — Engineer or Engineering Manager or Tech Lead
  3. Lunch
    45 minutes · 1–2 buddies / informal
  4. Design exercise: planning
    30 minutes 2 interviewers
  5. Design exercise: individual work
    1 hour · alone
  6. Design exercise: review
    30 minutes · 2 interviewers

Recruiter screen

Spotify has embedded recruiters for every product design team within a certain pillar — e.g. the Ads team will have their own design recruiter who works with the hiring managers and teams to identify specific needs and experience they’re looking for. Prepare for a highly specific recruiter screen digging into your background and past projects to find experience relevant to the role. Tailor your responses based on what the team is looking for and the job description, draw parallels where possible to the work you’ve done and the team’s product area.

Sometimes, in addition to your portfolio, the recruiter may request a copy of your portfolio/deck before or after their call with you. They share this with the hiring team to get an initial read on your skills.

As always, share timelines about other interviews or offers with the recruiter to help expedite the process. The recruiter will typically take your information back to the hiring manager or a senior designer on the team, who will do your next round: the phone screen.

General advice

Perhaps the most grueling on-site of the big name Product Design interviews, the Spotify on-site lasts a full day (9am — 5:30pm). In my opinion, the only way to get through this sane and victorious is to pretend you work there for a day. Try to shake off and forget any interview vibes. You’re given a sprawling room (in the WTC office) so settle in and tell yourself it’s your office and you have a meeting-heavy day.

Of course, it’s never a good idea to be overconfident and give off that “you already want to hire me” energy, when I say pretend you work there I mean approach it like a high-productivity day.

The team is also very mindful of giving you breathing room so if you need five minutes just ask for it, if you need coffee or a quick bite go for that too.

Research your interviewers ahead of time so you know who you’ll be talking to, and prepare questions for each practice (design, engineering, data, product management, and UXR) and write them down on a notepad if needed since they’re sprinkled all across your day.

Get the complete 9-page Spotify Product Design Interview Guide here and sign up for the waitlist for my upcoming book The Product Design Interview 📚

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