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Preparing for an upcoming UX or product design job interview can be a stressful process. You've spent countless hours updating your online portfolio, writing case studies, and lining up your dream product design interview, but it all comes down to the impression you make on the interviewer.
Hiring managers want to hire the best product designer for the job, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're simply looking for the candidate with the best portfolio and visual design skills. You'll need to showcase other important aspects of the job. Product design and UX design are highly-competitive industries, so it's important that you prepare to make a great first impression and show the hiring manager that you're the best fit for the job.
Most hiring managers for product design jobs will ask common interview questions as part of their interview process. Generally, these are easy to answer with a little practice. You'll also likely be asked broader behavioral interview questions that focus more on your design process, how you make design decisions, how you conduct user research and usability testing, and how you handle particular situations. These aren't as easy to answer, but thankfully they're also easy to prepare for!
This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to prepare for your next product design interview, with tips on how to prepare a good answer to common product design questions.
Be sure to check out our guides on how to prepare for a job interview, how to use the STAR method, common remote job interview questions, Zoom interview tips, and how to find a remote job and get hired as well.
How to prepare for product design interview questions
The modern product design process is highly collaborative. Hiring managers are looking for well-rounded product designers who are not only technically skilled but also a good fit for the company culture and business goals.
Product designers need to be able to conduct user research and collaborate/work well with the engineering team, product managers, and other stakeholders. They also need to show they have a strong product design process and a solid understanding of user experience.
It's common for product design interviews to involve meeting with several different stakeholders in the company — product managers, software engineers, other designers/design managers, and even customer support representatives — to ensure they're a good fit for the job.
As such, common product design questions can vary greatly from company to company and depend largely on which team you're interviewing with. Interview questions from design managers are likely to be more technical and role-specific, while interview questions from other teams are likely going to be broader and more situational.
It's impossible to prepare an answer to every possible product design interview question. Instead, the best way to prepare for your product design interview is the have a thorough understanding of the company, the job description, the design team, the business goals, and what the hiring manager is looking for.
Before we dive into some common product design questions and sample answers, follow these simple steps to deepen your understanding of the company and role before your interview. This will help you tailor your answers to what the company is looking for and help you stand out from a sea of other applicants.
Step 1: Research the company and their design culture
As a starting point, you should have a thorough understanding of the company. Spend some time researching the company culture, values, mission, products, industry, competitors, and what their design culture is like.
Every design team works differently and this step of the process can be incredibly interesting and insightful! Some companies are very transparent with their design culture and design process and design managers actively encourage product designers to participate in interviews and podcasts to help recruit the best talent.
If you're interviewing with a large company, chances are they'll have some product designer resources online that dive into their company culture and design process. Here are a few examples:
- Zendesk's Brandland
- Design at Square
- Getting Hired for Design at Mailchimp
- Design at Google
- My first 18 months on the productboard design team
These resources are a secret weapon in your product design job interview preparation because they're always packed full of insights about the company design culture, their goals, tools they use, and their plans that most job candidates won't hear about.
Researching the company not only helps you to tailor your interview question answers to the job, but they'll show your potential employer that you're passionate about the opportunity.
Here are some other valuable and unconventional resources to help research the company further:
- AngelList: A tech & startup job board with thousands of company profiles.
- Crunchbase: Crunchbase is a platform for finding business information about private and public companies.
- Glassdoor: Glassdoor is a great place to find what current and former employees think about the company.
- Linkedin: Linkedin can be a cheat sheet for learning more about a potential employer's organizational structure. You can use it to find out who you'll be working alongside and learn more about them, including any interviews they've done or helpful content about the company they've written.
- Himalayas: A remote job board with in-depth company profiles on thousands of remote companies. Our company profiles outline what each company does, its tech stack, and employee benefits.
- Employee handbooks: If the company has a public employee handbook, you've struck gold. Not only will this knowledge help you shape your definition of success for the role, but it'll help you prepare some insightful questions of your own.
- Your network: This might seem obvious, but you'd be surprised how few candidates explore your professional network when preparing for a product design interview. You might know someone (or know someone who knows someone) who has worked at the company you're interviewing for. Reach out to them! Any advice or insights they can share may give you a significant edge over other candidates.
Last but not least, as part of this research process, try to learn more about the company's tech stack — the tools and software they use — because you can focus your answers on where your skills overlap. For example, you might uncover that the team uses design tools that you're highly experienced with (e.g. Webflow, Figma or Maze) but aren't mentioned in the job description. This knowledge is invaluable and is easy to weave into your answers.
Step 2: Research the job description
Thoroughly read the job description. Obvious, right? You'd be surprised how few candidates do this.
Hiring managers who know exactly what they're looking for will share this in the job description. To prepare for your product design interview, you need to understand exactly what the hiring manager is looking for.
They want to find product designers who are the best fit for the role and a well-written job description will contain everything you need to know about the position, including duties, responsibilities, desired skills, and important aspects of the job.
Note down anything in the job description that will help strengthen your answers to common product design questions. This can include specific skills and software that the team uses, as well as strengths they're looking for or goals they're trying to achieve. There might even be hints for common interview questions you can prepare for in the job description.
By making sure you address these in your product design interview, you're essentially checking off boxes in the hiring manager's mind. Use this information to make it clear that you're the best fit for this specific product design job.
For example, if you're preparing for a product design interview with Loom, chances are their job description is going to mention particular skills (e.g. usability testing), strengths (e.g. design systems), and technologies (e.g. Figma) that are a good fit for the job. Making sure you highlight these in your interview answers will put you miles ahead of other candidates and show the hiring manager you're a good fit.
Step 3: Prepare answers to common product design interview questions
This is where you tie together what you've learned about the company and job so far. Prepare answers to common product design interview questions that you can expect to be asked.
The most important thing to remember is that your answers should be as relevant to the company and the job description as possible. They should show clearly that you have the right strengths, skills, and experience to make you a good fit for the job.
During your interview, you'll likely be asked more complex behavioral interview questions. These are designed to assess how you react to difficult situations, your skills level, and how you conduct yourself in the workplace.
As we've mentioned, it's impossible to prepare an answer for every potential product design interview question, particularly behavioral interview questions. Thankfully, if you've done your research, learning the STAR interview method will help you prepare for anything. Answering behavioral interview questions with the STAR method provides a reliable and effective structure that you can follow to ensure your answers stand out from other applicants.
STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result:
- Situation: Describe the situation as it forms the basis for the rest of your answer.
- Task: Outline your goals or problems.
- Action: Describe the steps you took to solve the problems or achieve your goals.
- Result: Explain the consequences of your actions and how you contributed to the company. Where possible, quantify your impact.
You can use the STAR interview method when you're preparing answers to common interview questions, but it's also a lifesaver when you're faced with a question in the actual interview that you haven't prepared for. Just relax, remember the acronym STAR, and leverage the research on the company and job description to highlight relevant situations and impress the interviewer.
Check our list of common job interview questions and behavioral interview questions to prepare for, as well as our growing library of in-depth guides to common interview questions.
4. Practice answering common product design interview questions
Check out our list of common product design interview questions below and prepare answers to them based on your own experience and what the hiring manager is looking for.
Remember, always remember to ensure your answers are relevant to the company and the specific job you're interviewing for. Hopefully, by now, this is pretty clear.
It's also a good idea to set up some mock interviews with a friend or family member as part of your practice. These are a great way to rehearse your answers out loud and find ways where you can improve them. They're also invaluable for settling nerves and helping you to internalize and remember your answers!
We've written a helpful guide on how to get the most out of mock interviews.
Common product design interview questions (with example answers)
Here is a list of common product design interview questions that you can expect to be asked. We've included some example answers for you to use as a base for your answers.
These interview questions are specific to product design interviews. Make sure you also check our list of common job interview questions and behavioral interview questions as part of your preparation.
Can you tell me a little about yourself?
I'm a product designer based in San Franscisco. I've spent the last 3 years working with the wonderful design team Square, where I've been mainly focused on building out a consistent and scalable design system for their growing team. Prior to that, I spent 2 years with Coda as a user researcher and UI designer. I really enjoyed the visual design and interaction design aspects of this role.
I actually have a background in architecture and hold a Masters of Architecture from the University of Melbourne. I've always been passionate about design and became fascinated with product design and UX back in 2015 because of its focus on data and user research to make the best design decisions and user experience. I found this data-led design process fascinating. I spent a year learning all I can about the product design process in my spare time before transitioning into the industry.
Why this is a good answer
This is a good answer because it briefly and concisely establishes your background, skillset, strengths, and design interests. It clearly shows that you have a broad range of experience from usability testing all the way to complex UI design and design systems experience — all of which are mentioned in the job description as preferred skills!
This answer goes a step further by also covering how you became interested in design. This back story makes your answer stand out even further from other candidates because it shows that you're incredibly passionate about the industry and value the user research process, you're self-motivated, and you have a well-rounded background that can bring interesting perspectives to the role.
What is your design process?
Of course, this depends largely on the project, timeframe, and requirements, but my ideal design process is as follows.
I like to think about the product design process as problem-solving. The first step of this process is to understand the problem through research: user research, stakeholder interviews, competitive audits, user personas, market research... The goal here is to develop a deep understanding of what the problem is, what the business goals are, and what success looks like. I like to establish clear KPIs and success metrics at this point.
I also like to involve the engineering team and other stakeholders in the design process as early as possible. This helps me better understand constraints or other perspectives that are invaluable and help prevent roadblocks down the track!
Once I have a well-rounded understanding of everything, I'll begin wireframing and prototyping potential solutions. This is a highly interactive process. If the project and timeframe allow, it's always a good idea to conduct some usability testing at this point where I like to conduct further user research with interactive Figma prototypes to highlight areas of improvement.
When the development process starts, I'll continue to work closely with the engineering team to make sure they have everything they need (mockups, user flows etc.).
Finally, once the design is live, I'll keep a close eye on both quantitative and quantitative data and compare it against the KPIs I set at the start of the project. This helps identify areas we can improve further. Usually, this involves ongoing usability testing and A/B testing so we can further iterate and improve the user experience.
Why this is a good answer
Product design is continuously evolving and searching for new ways to solve problems. This is a good answer to this question because it shows the interviewer you've developed a clear, well-thought-out, and consistent process to achieve business goals. You don't have to dive into a full case study and in-depth process — just a concise summary will do.
This process demonstrates that you have a thorough understanding of the design process, you always focus on the end-user, you're good at collaborating with others involved in the design process, and you're always considerate of the business goals and constraints that may arise.
What type of work or part of the design process do you enjoy the most?
I gravitate much more towards the prototyping and UI design stage of the design process. Building complex user flows and iterating on them are where my strengths are and I really enjoy using Figma and Principle.
That being said, I understand that this is just a small part of the design process so I try not to neglect the research and testing parts of the process!
Why this is a good answer
As part of your research for the product design interview, noting down specific skills and software mentioned in the job description or used by the company is an invaluable exercise. With this knowledge, you can weave these into your answers to make it clear that you have extensive experience with these specific skills and are a good fit for the job.
This answer is genuine, honest, and highlights your strengths in key skills and software that are mentioned in the job description.
It's also a great answer because it acknowledges that while you enjoy this part of the process, you're disciplined enough to not let this neglect other important responsibilities.
What type of work or part of the design process do you not enjoy doing?
Numbers and analyzing large data sets are something that I've had a bit of trouble with in the past. When I worked for Doordash, I conducted some large-scale usability testing which involved a lot of data. The goal was to quantify areas we can improve in the iOS app sign-up process and begin working on some improved designs.
At the time, I hadn't had much experience with working with data sets of that size and found it challenging. With the help of an online course from Udemy, I was able to work my way through it and uncover some useful insights. We made improvements based on these insights and saw a 10% decrease in sign-up dropoffs over the next month!
This is still the part of the UX process I find challenging, so I've been continuing with Udemy courses in my spare time to improve since then.
Why this is a good answer
Discussing what you enjoy and are good at when interviewing is easy. Inversely, discussing what you're not good at (or don't enjoy) can be difficult. While you want to be honest about your weaknesses, you don't want to have come across as unqualified for the job.
This is a great answer because it leverages the STAR method to explain a situation where you didn't enjoy a part of the design process, but still made the absolute best of a difficult situation and independently worked your way through a complex problem.
It's genuine and honest and shows the interviewer that you're aware that this is a weak spot in your skillset but that you're driven and motivated to improve it by taking online courses. This answer stands out from just replying "I'm not good at data so I don't enjoy it".
What is the difference between product design and UX design or UI design?
I like to think of product design as the entire process that involves UX, UI and other aspects of the design process. UX design is focused on investigating behavioral patterns and exploring how to improve the user experience, while UI design is focused on implementing these learnings into a user interface and experience.
Product design is both of these processes and more. As a product designer, my focus is on the entire user experience holistically. This includes constantly making improvements to the current user experience, even if I didn't design it.
A great product designer should be able to handle the entire design process end-to-end, and then continue to iterate on the final product over time to improve it.
Why this is a good answer
While frivolous discussions and misinformation about the difference between types of designers should probably be left to Twitter, this question is likely to come up in your interview. It's designed to assess if you have a sound understanding of the field and understand what the job's responsibilities are.
This is a good answer because it clearly defines the different roles, but it also focuses on the value you can bring to the company as a product designer. It's clear to the interviewer that you're knowledgeable and ready to own the entire design process and aware of your responsibilities.
How do you know if you've made the correct design decision?
Data, mainly! When working on a new feature or product, it's just as important to test ideas before they're built as it is to test them after. While common sense and even a bit of intuition are useful, the key part of the design process is data and user testing which should inform decisions.
When I was a product designer at Coinbase, we weren't sure how to layout a table on mobile. This was a central part of the product and everyone had a different opinion on how it should be done. After we had a few prototypes ready in Figma, we conducted some usability testing with Maze and collected qualitative and quantitative data on which our users performed. There was a clear preference for the new table layout.
This was just a small sample size and an interactive prototype, but enough validation that we were on the right track. After it was built and live on the site, we defined some key metrics to monitor and set up some larger usability tests to make sure it was the right decision.
The result was that the majority of users preferred the new design. Our analytics showed that more users were interacting with the table on mobile as well. Of course, we expected this, but we couldn't have been sure it was the correct design decision until we'd thoroughly tested the idea.
Why this is a good answer
This question gives you the opportunity to show the interviewer how much you understand the user testing process, as well as how you approach analyzing and measuring user experiences. User testing — which is part of a user-centered product design — is one of the most important aspects of a product designer’s job.
This is a great answer because it leverages the STAR method to explain a situation where you used data and user testing to make sure you've made the correct design decision. This provides context and further strengthens your answer because it shows you have real experience with this important skill. It doesn't go into too much detail or include too much jargon, but leaves room for follow-up questions if the interviewer wants to dive deeper into specific techniques or metrics.
Even better, you mentioned that you used tools and software that are already used by the team you're interviewing for!
How do you handle design criticism?
I like to leave my ego out of the room when it comes to product design; I think great product designers are objective and should rely on data. Once you get emotional about a design decision or criticism it just complicates things and makes everyone's job harder. This leads to a worse-off user experience in the long run.
If I'm presenting ideas or prototypes and they're met with design criticism I always handle it professionally and patiently. I think it's best to make design decisions based on data and user testing to keep things objective so that's often the best approach — I can then incorporate this feedback into the next iteration.
If the criticism is subjective (e.g. "I don't like that color"), I like to understand why they don't like it and whether there are other options we can look at that don't sacrifice contrast and usability or other important details.
Of course, there always needs to be room for compromise if necessary. This can be a balancing act between understanding the business goals, time and resource constraints, and what the user testing and data shows. At the end of the day, as long as I can keep everyone happy and make the best design decisions possible with the information available I'm happy.
Why this is a good answer
This is a great answer because it shows the interviewer that you have high social EQ and can handle criticism professionally. We've all worked with ego-driven colleagues who simply cannot handle criticism in any capacity — both subjective and objective criticism — and it simply doesn't work.
If you can show that you're professional and can leave your ego at the door, you'll make a great impression on the hiring manager.
If you have any specific scenarios where you've worked through design criticism, it's always a good idea to include them in your answer! Structure them using the STAR method to show how you handled the criticism effectively.
Do you have any experience with design systems?
Yes — I helped build and maintain the Figma design system at Wealthsimple. We used Storybook to keep everything consistent and up-to-date which made our frontend developers' lives much easier!
I think consistency and scalability are important, especially at the start of new products. Without a proper design system to work from and build upon, maintaining consistent designs and remembering design decisions just becomes a mess. Over time, this builds expensive technical debt that will eventually have to be sorted out.
Why this is a good answer
Hiring managers are looking for product design candidates that are the best fit for their specific job. Often this can involve highly-specific skills or strengths such as building and maintaining design systems.
This is a good answer because it demonstrates that you have experience with design systems and use the exact same tools that are mentioned in the job description. Not only that, this answer takes things a step further and shows that you truly understand the value and importance of this part of the role.
Why do you want this product design job?
Stripe has a fantastic reputation. I have a few former colleagues working here, and I've seen how much Stripe's mission to increase the GDP of the Internet bleeds into everything you do. I helped Bolt design its one-click checkout, and I believe I could contribute significantly to the design and improvement of Stripe Checkout.
Why this is a good answer
Hiring managers love candidates who are passionate about company values. This goes far above the job. Highlighting an aspect of their culture shows you've done the research. This particular candidate has also highlighted that they've worked on a similar and successful product, which implies they understand the problem deeply and have relevant experience and skills to have a great impact.
Do you have a project that you're most proud of?
When I was a UX designer at Stash, I worked on the new onboarding process.
This was my first project at Stash that I handled on my own end-to-end. I had one main goal: to improve the signup conversion rate which had been hovering at 30-32% for the last two quarters.
I researched dozens of similar experiences and best practices, spoke to existing users, designed new experiences in Figma, and even built working prototypes in Webflow before conducting a series of user tests to make the best design decisions.
Once the new onboarding was live, I tracked conversions and we saw a significant uptick. The conversion rate increased to 45% and I used Hotjar to make incremental improvements for the following quarter. After 3 months, the conversion rate was 56%.
Why this is a good answer
This is a great answer because it leverages the STAR method to help the hiring manager follow along by providing a focused answer with a digestible but compelling story. Using quantifiable metrics shows clearly that your work had a positive impact and that you're data-driven.
Remember, your job as a candidate is to provide interview answers that help the interviewer assess your strengths and skills. This answer also helps them determine how well you might fit into the job by sharing your strengths and specific tools and software that you use. Bonus points if these are specific tools and software that their team already uses!
Have you had any projects that didn't go well? What would you have done differently?
Absolutely! In 2020, I was working on a small design team at Customer.io. We were working on improving the text editor as it was outdated and users were experiencing some formatting issues in certain browsers.
The goal was to update the design of the text editor to match our new design as well as fix these formatting issues. It was my responsibility to prototye a new design in Figma.
We presented the new design to our product manager and she loved it. However, once it was implemented, we spoke to some of our users and they were frustrated that the formatting panel was fixed to the top of the text box. This became an issue when you are working with a lot of text because you have to scroll back up. We didn't foresee this problem during the design process.
To fix this, we had to work quickly and implement a fix to make this formating panel sticky for longer text boxes.
As part of the design process, we spent a lot of time looking at what competitors and great companies were doing. However, these solutions weren't working with large bodies of text like some of our customers were. If I was to do this project over again, I would have more carefully thought through these fringe cases and conducted some usability testing with a working prototype. This would have undoubtedly uncovered this problem before it was pushed live.
Why this is a good answer
This answer uses the STAR method to share a compelling story about a project you worked on that didn't go well. Everyone makes mistakes professionally and employers understand that. What matters is how you handle mistakes. This is what the interviewer is looking for.
This is a great answer because it is honest, shows that you can hold yourself accountable. Hiring managers ask this question to determine how well you can hold yourself responsible for mistakes, take ownership of difficult situations, and importantly, how well you learn from these experiences.
What is your favorite product?
My favorite product is the Robinhood platform. It's an investment app that allows you to buy shares and options. I started using this app initially for its features as it allows you to purchase fractional shares which are partial amounts of shares.
Both the design and UX of the app have won me over since then. I've used a bunch of brokerage platforms in the past, but Robinhood has really stepped up from a product design perspective.
One thing they do really great is that the app is designed intuitively on both desktop and mobile. Most alternatives I explored neglected the desktop experience. It's incredibly easy to navigate and search.
The team behind the app creates some really great educational content mainly aimed at helping new investors get comfortable with investing. The difference between Robinhood and other investing apps is that all of this great content and info is accessible right in the app. It's always encouraging me to explore new companies and learn about them.
I've seen firsthand how well their UX works at keeping me engaged. So much so that I'm constantly referring to it as I tackle similar design challenges.
One thing I think that lets the Robinhood user experience down is their onboarding. It's very long because financial services apps need a lot of information for risk and compliance reasons, however, there's no indication of how far along in the process you are. As a result, it's tempting to drop out and finish it later but you cannot dave your progress. This is one of the first things I'd fix if I was working on this product to avoid potential customers dropping out of the signup process.
Why this is a good answer
This is a common question asked in product manager interviews and likely one that will also come up in a product design interview. Hiring managers in PM interviews ask this question to assess how well product managers understand product design and their knowledge of UX. In a product design interview, the interviewer is looking for a deep understanding of product design and what specifically you like about this product and the user experience.
Most designers are highly opinionated about product design experiences — chances are you have some products you use and love. It's best to pick a product you're deeply familiar with, even if it's not directly related to the role you're applying for. Remember, the hiring manager is assessing how well you understand what makes a great user experience, regardless of what the product is.
This is a great answer because it shows the interviewer you're deeply knowledgeable about the Robinhood app and think critically about what makes it a great user experience. Even better, you demonstrate that can think critically about things they don't do well (the user onboarding) and suggest simple ways that they could improve it that align with Robinhood's business goals (increasing signups).
To make your answer stand out even further, try these tips:
- Choose something interesting or new: Introduce the interviewer to something they've likely not heard of or used before. This not only makes it more interesting but is an opportunity to teach them something.
- Pick a product you know well: Many candidates fall into the trap of picking products they think will impress the hiring manager. Jira, Spotify, Twitter and Figma are all common answers believe it or not! Not only will it be obvious that it's not really your favorite product by your enthusiasm and the depth of your answer and knowledge, but it'll also be boring for the interviewer as they've likely heard it before.
- Show passion and enthusiasm: This question is a hidden opportunity to share how passionate you are about good product design and it's not just a job for you. Pay attention to and get excited about small details and you'll make a great impression.
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