How to Prepare for the UX Design Interview

We asked UX and product design interviewers from top tech companies to share what's asked in the UX interview and how to prepare.
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Hey there! This article is part of our series on UX and Product Design, and is based on writing by Garron Engstrom for Exponent's upcoming Product Design Interview Course.

Contents:

Overview

We sat down with designers from some of the top tech companies including Meta, Google, and more to understand what you actually need to prepare for UX and Product Design Interviews.

UX Design and Product Design interviews can be mystifying, but are ultimately meant to get a well-rounded picture of your design skillset. As a result, you’ll need to demonstrate not only high-level product thinking and prioritization, but also showcase your strengths and familiarity with visual design, user research, and cross-team collaboration.

While design interviews often follow a fairly predictable format, the process can vary dramatically between companies, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with all of the different interview types described below. Let’s get started!

Design Interview Stages

At a high level, the designer interview has these interview stages at most companies:

Phone Screen

In this 30-45 min interview, a recruiter or hiring manager will ask questions about your experience, what areas of design you focus on.

Be prepared to answer basic questions like:

  • “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
  • "What are your favorite and least favorite parts of design?"
  • “What are your salary expectations?”
  • “Why are you looking to switch jobs right now?”

For examples of how to answer questions like this, check out our resources on behavioral interviews and the STAR framework.

Portfolio Review

There's no getting around it: Portfolios are important as a designer. They're the outward representation of your skills and experience, and are important in getting the attention of recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers.

Your online portfolio will help attract the attention of recruiters, but when it comes to the interview process, you'll likely need to do a Portfolio Review over a video call or in-person. Typically, this is a 30 or 45-minute presentation.

In order to convey everything you need in a short presentation, here is a proposed format:

  1. Introduction Tell the interviewers about yourself: What do you spend your free time doing? Help them understand your motivation.
  2. Big Project. Choose a large, interesting project to spend the majority of the time on. Ideally, this is one where you helped define the strategy alongside product management or other stakeholders. Help them understand the business problem you solved, and walk them through your design process, from prototypes to final outcomes.
  3. Small Project. If you have time, select another project that highlights a particularly strong skill of yours that may not have been demonstrated elsewhere already (e.g. interaction design, prototyping).
  4. Q&A.

Expect lots of questions throughout and after your presentation. Here are some common follow-up questions you'll need to answer:

  • What was the actual outcome of this work?
  • Was it successful? Did you meet or exceed the business metrics? If not, why?
  • What would do differently if you could go back in time?
  • How many iterations were there? How did you choose the end solution?
  • Did you work within existing pattern libraries or develop new patterns? Why?
  • Which parts of the design were you directly responsible for?

Check out this portfolio review video for a realistic example, and don't forget to check out the Introduction to Portfolio Reviews lesson on Exponent.

App Critique Interview

The App Critique interview is designed to mimic a normal part of the design process: critique. Treat this as an opportunity to show the interviewer signal on core design skills like product thinking, visual design, interaction design, and more.

Here are some example App Critique questions you should practice:

  • Open Google Maps and to tell me what could be improved with the visual and interaction design. (See answer)
  • Let's reverse-engineer the design of LinkedIn app. What do you think could be improved? (See answer)
  • Take a look at the Spotify App. Why did they design it this way, and what could be improved from a user experience standpoint? (See answer)

As tempting as it is, don't jump into the first solution you think of! The best answers to these questions take a structured approach to the problem. Here's one approach you can try:

  1. Set context: Talk about the company. What problem does the app solve for users? How does the business make money?
  2. Choose a use case: Identify a use case in the app and walk through that flow, analyzing the design and how well it solves the problem you chose.
  3. Evaluate: Summarize your thoughts on the flow and make a recommendation that would improve metrics that this business cares about.

Be prepared to answer a few common follow-up questions as well:

  • "Tell me more about this design. Why do you think the designer chose this?"
  • "What are your thoughts on the visual design, like color, typography, etc."
  • "What is the information hierarchy here? What did they prioritize?"

Design Takehome

Takehome design challenges are meant to get a realistic sample of what it would be like to work with you as a designer on a real problem. While you won't be expected to spend as much time as you would on a real problem, you should still attempt to go through a condensed version of your normal design process and produce a polished final result or recommendation.

Here are some example design takehome questions:

  • Re-design the sign up flow and onboarding for {X}
  • How would you re-design {X} for {Y} - e.g. Uber for Doctors
  • Re-imagine the checkout flow for an app to increase conversion

Remember, the key point here isn't necessarily to get it "right," but you do want to produce a reasonable result and show your work. We recommend including a brief write-up with your project to justify the design decisions you made, including:

  • Any assumptions you made about the business goals and user needs
  • Rationale for your design decisions based on those goals
  • How you would measure the results or impact
  • What you would improve if you had more time

More Resources

Here at Exponent, we've connected tens of thousands of job seekers in countless tech roles with expert courses and resources to best prepare them for their upcoming interviews.

If you're interested in more design-related resources, be sure to check out:

👨‍🎓 Take our complete Product Design Interview Course.

📖 Read through our company-specific interview guides

👯‍♂️ Practice your behavioral and interviewing skills with our mock interview practice tool.

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