Interviewing is a two-way street - 5 must-ask questions during a design job interview.
Interviewing is a two-way street.
It’s not only the company interviewing you. It’s also you interview them.
At the end of the design interview, once the interviewers ask all of their questions from you, they give you some time to ask your questions to determine if the job and the team are right for you.
And you know what? You don’t need to be happy with all of their answers, either. So after the interview, they decide if they want to continue working with you, and you can also choose if you’re going to work with them.
Here are the questions that you should ask during the design job interview
What would my week look like if I worked for the [insert company name]?
I don’t ask about my day because one day can be completely different from another day. I like to have an overview of what my week will look like because it gives a better understanding of the role. Asking this question, you can figure out your responsibilities, who you need to work with, how many meetings you will have, etc.
Pay attention to the meetings’ frequency and length. I always ask follow-up questions, for example, how many hours does this role require me to participate in discussions? Some meetings are essential to get your work done. However, if you’re working as a senior product designer and need to participate in meetings for 20 hours a week, you won’t have enough time to deliver great, quality work.
How large is the product development team? Who’s considered the product development team?
You want to figure out the team’s structure by asking this question. Your team might consist of a product owner, product managers, developers, testers, business analysts, change managers, marketing, and perhaps other stakeholders. The more diverse the team is, the more engagement is required.
A few follow-up questions could be: how large is the product design team, or how many developers a designer works with? If the designer-developer ratio is 1 to 10, you will be over-stretched. I’d consider this a red flag.
How does the team collaborate? How does the team collaborate with other teams?
By asking this question, you’d like to learn about their product development process, how other teams and team members collaborate with designers, and when a designer gets involved in the process.
I always consider ourselves, designers, part of the product development team because product design is part of the product development cycle. I’d encourage you to figure out when they involve designers, e.g. they invite you to the table once the solution to the problem is already figured out? If so, again, that is a red flag.
If you decide to take that job, you most likely need to do lots of design education and bring the team on the design process journey. There are lots of companies out there who have a lower UX maturity. Working as a junior designer can be challenging in that environment, so be aware of this.
How do you plan your product? Does the company have a product development roadmap?
With this question, you want to figure out who prioritizes the product roadmap if there is
a product roadmap. Also, it gives you a chance to ask questions about how much user feedback they get and the relationship with the customers.
Ask follow-up questions such as, is there any usability testing cadence already implemented in a product development cycle? At this stage, you also would like to understand if you had the opportunity to talk to users if you get hired.
We cannot call ourselves user experience designers if we don’t have a personal relationship with customers.
We just can’t.
You also need to understand the way to get in touch with users. For instance, usability testing, user research, discovery workshop, phone interviews, or any other method has been used at the company.
What is my career development path here if I join?
Let’s say you join as a junior designer. You’d like to understand how many years you need to stay in that position to get promoted to be a senior designer, then a lead designer, then a manager and director (in case this is what you’d like to pursue).
You also want to figure out if the company provides any mentorship. And how often your performance gets measured and measured by who. Do they offer any career pathways? What are the metrics you’ll be measured on?
I also like to ask who is the top performer and what things this person has done exceptionally well so that I can do the same and achieve my career goals.
My bonus question might not be important to you, but it’s crucial to me. I always ask what kind of manager my manager will be. Personally, I don’t micromanage, and I don’t want to be micromanaged either. If my new manager resembles any kind of micromanager traits, well, that’s definitely a red flag for me.
To this date, my very best manager was at Oracle a few years ago. He gave me many opportunities to grow and always provided me with exciting projects to never get bored. He was there when I needed him and gave me so much autonomy without micromanaging me or my tasks. I still have yet to find another one like him — the good old days.
You might also want to know if your manager is a design practitioner as well. Or if your manager is only your home manager who signs your annual leaves. It’s vital for your growth regardless of your seniority level.
You might also want to ask how many people report to your manager. If your manager is the manager of another ten people, then your new manager probably won’t have time for you. Not the time you actually need when you’re an aspiring junior designer.
I’d encourage you to ask all of these questions so that you can make an informed decision based on their answers.