How to Survive a Job Interview at Zalando

Gloria Rupprecht
Oct 30 · 4 min read

Part 1: The Design Deep Dive

Product Design Manager, Gloria Rupprecht, shines a light on what happens during the Design Deep Dive.

You got an invite to the Design Deep Dive? Congrats! If you’ve made it to this interview it means you’ve already successfully completed two steps: the assessment of your CV and portfolio, and an evaluation with one of our talent acquisition partners.

In the next step, you’ll meet a senior designer or design manager like me. That’s good news because we are just like you. We speak the same language and have most likely dealt with similar situations in the past. And we’re on your side. We want you to succeed because that means we’d get a great new colleague!

What to Expect

Now let’s talk about what to expect in a Design Deep Dive and how to prepare for it so that it’s as stress-free as possible.

The Design Deep Dive is an interview where we’ll discuss specific projects that you’ve previously worked on in depth. It happens remotely so make sure you have a strong internet connection, headphones to avoid the dreaded echo, and a room that allows you to focus completely without any distractions from your spouse/kid/dog (yes, it’s happened).

The interview usually takes 60 to 90 minutes. If I’m three minutes late don’t panic — it’s possible that my previous meeting was in a different room and I will definitely show up. The session starts with a little intro round so that you know who you’re talking to. As an interviewer I have access to your CV, so try not to give me a recap of the last seven years of your career. I’ve already checked all that out.

Design Deep Dive Tips

What I’m actually interested in is how you work. That’s what we‘ll spend the majority of our time talking about. The best thing you can do is to choose a couple of projects you’ve worked on in the last 12 months to talk about that matter to you. Here are some tips on how to do that:

  • Pick projects you feel proud of and are allowed to speak about (we’ll keep everything you say 100% confidential, and won’t push anyone to break an NDA)
  • Tell a story. Ideally I’d like to understand the full context: why the project began, where you took it, and what the outcome was.
  • Be concrete. Don’t explain how the design process works in general — we both know that already. What I don’t know though, is how you apply methods and tools in real life, and what you do if the circumstances don’t allow you to run the project by the book.
  • Show me more than your online portfolio. Again, I‘ve already seen it. Support your story with as many illustrative examples as possible so that I can get the full picture. Photos of colorful Post-it-covered walls, customer journeys, early sketches, and even crappy prototypes are all highly appreciated. Explain how you got from one to the other.
  • Good design is intentional so you should also be ready to answer detailed questions about the interaction patterns you chose, UX copy you went with or the insights that customers surprised you with.

Getting to Know You

The last part of the interview is more about you as a designer. I’ll ask questions about what drives you, your ideal working environment, and development goals. This is a good time for you to share what you care about and hope for in your next position, as well as to ask any questions you might still harbour.

Given that we hire as a design community, it’s likely that you could be a fit for multiple job openings at this stage. Keep an open mind and express any clear preferences you have. It will help us decide what will happen at the next stage.

That’s it. Time for you to take a deep breath.

What’s Next?

I will go through my notes and check with a recruiter to see if your skills, experience and aspirations match any of our open positions. Realistically, this takes two to three days.

If it’s a no, it’s a no. But we are constantly creating new positions throughout the year so you can apply again at any time.

If it’s a yes, we‘ll invite you over to our office in Berlin for the last step: the onsite day.

You can find out more about that in the next blog post!

Zalando Design

A collection of thoughts from Zalando Design

Gloria Rupprecht

Written by

Product Design Lead @Zalando

Zalando Design

A collection of thoughts from Zalando Design

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