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The 10 design interview questions you need to ask

Words by
22 June, 2024
4 mins read

Finding the right designer is crucial for your company’s success. But selecting a designer who meshes well with your team and understands your company’s vision can be overwhelming, especially if you’re not a creative professional yourself.

Here are ten essential interview questions to help you discover whether a designer has the conceptual and collaborative skills, attitude, and design expertise to be a valuable part of your team.

1. “Where do you get inspiration or ideas from?”

This question is a great starting point to understand who or what influences your designer and whether they keep up with current trends. Ask them:

  • Are they influenced by the art scene, skateboarding culture, architecture, furniture, interior decorating, or straight-up visual design?
  • What apps or websites do they admire?
  • Is there a particular design process they find interesting?

Each type of designer draws inspiration from different places. For graphic designers, inquire about their favorite branding, typography, and layout principles. For UX/UI designers, focus on their preferred design thinking around prototyping, wireframing, and user flows. Even if you don’t recognize every name or brand, you’re looking for a candidate with passion and an open mind.

2. “Tell me about the projects you’re most proud of and why. What was your role?”

Experienced designers will want to share successes that made an impact. This question allows them to open up about these projects, giving you insight into their involvement in the design process. Before the interview, review their portfolio and identify your favorite projects. During the interview, ask for details about the design project and their specific role. This will help you determine if they were involved in strategy, conception, execution, and other stages of the process.

3. “Tell me about your portfolio and how you designed it?”

Dive deep into the candidate’s professional portfolio. Verify that they actually designed the work samples themselves. Ask if they used platforms like Squarespace or Dribbble, or if they coded it themselves. Quality candidates will have invested significant time and effort into their best work and will have strong opinions on why it matters. Explore why their portfolio is arranged as it is and look for interesting stories that tie one concept to another. This question helps you understand how they think and organize their work.

4. “What software do you prefer to use? Which do you dislike?”

While non-technical skills are important, understanding the technical skills and software proficiency of your candidates is equally crucial. Ask them:

  • Can they go beyond Adobe Creative Suite products like Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, and use newer programs like Sketch and UXPin?
  • Do they have additional creative skills like animation, video editing, or illustration?
  • Are there computer languages or design programs they are eager to learn?
  • Do they have print skills for layout and production work?
  • Can they support their design with coding skills?

If you’re not familiar with the design software, have someone from your team with a better understanding join the interview.

5. “How do you work cross-functionally with developers, copywriters, project managers, etc.?”

The best designers are team players. They know how to concept, ask questions, incorporate feedback, and collaborate on projects. Ask for a specific example of how they worked under a tight deadline and had to rely on others, or how they interacted with team members who had different work styles.

6. “Are you typically involved in the strategy or ‘concept’ phase of a project?”

Designers who have led projects, gathered input from stakeholders, and been part of the strategic planning phase bring extensive skills to the table. These designers understand the why behind the ask and can develop concepts and present work effectively. Bonus points for candidates who have worked face-to-face with clients, both external and internal.

7. “Give me some insight into your creative process”

Understand how the designer works best and whether their process aligns with your team. Ask them:

  • Do they try to understand the problem before designing?
  • What kinds of questions do they ask?
  • Are they comfortable with ideation and brainstorming?
  • Can they execute on someone else’s idea?
  • Do they prefer working independently or collaboratively?
  • How do they handle remote collaboration, which is increasingly common?
  • Can they adapt to unexpected challenges?

Their answers will provide valuable insights into their working style and adaptability.

8. “How do you deal with negative feedback?”

Great designers welcome feedback because they know it can improve the final product. Ask for specific examples of how they have used feedback to enhance their work, what they consider valuable criticism, how they prefer to receive feedback, and how they handle differing opinions from clients or team members. Top designers can defend their work respectfully while being open to changes and improvements.

9. “How do you finalise a project and hand it over?”

Final handoff can determine the success and future accessibility of any design project. Ask them:

  • Do they recommend specific file types for final review with clients?
  • Do they provide source files?
  • How do they organize and bundle files for future use?
  • Do they create a naming structure for ease of use?

You want a designer who considers the project’s long-term usability and future needs, not just rushing to the finish line.

10. “What’s your dream job?”

This open-ended question provides a glimpse into the designer’s personality and long-term aspirations. You might find someone who dreams of being a creative director, a graphic designer at a renowned agency, or something entirely different like a food critic or novelist. Understanding their dream job can help determine their cultural fit and what drives them. This insight can inform you if their passions align with the work your team is doing.

To sum it up

Use these design interview questions as a guideline to discover if a candidate is the right fit for your team. Pay attention to their communication and interpersonal skills to determine whether they will be a valuable addition to your creative team. The right designer not only brings technical expertise but also collaborates well and shares your company’s vision, making them an integral part of your success.

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David Ryckman

David is a regular contributor and sub-editor for Who Design Today. He is a Managing Partner at Kwibb and has a keen eye for design and branding.

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