10 Common Product Design Interview Questions
Prepare for your next product design interview with a list of common product design interview questions and answers used at the most design-forward companies.
September 16, 2021Find product design jobs
Art by Kristina Pedos @13chrisart
Product design job interviews are a bit different from interviews used to hire accountants or administrative assistants. There's a much bigger emphasis on creativity, innovation, and a focus on finding product designers with just the right combination of design skills and problem-solving abilities.
That's why reviewing the most common product design interview questions is beneficial for candidates and hiring managers alike.
This guide contains a list of ten product design interview questions used by companies such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google to select talented employees.
As an applicant, you can use these questions to prepare for the interview process or ask a trusted friend to run through some mock interviews with you. If you're a hiring manager or recruiter, the list of product design questions can help you identify qualified candidates and match them with the right openings.
Common product design interview questions
During a job interview, it's important to ask open-ended interview questions to gather as much information from candidates as possible. In many cases, there's no single "right" answer. You're simply looking for candidates to walk you through their thought processes and show you that they can approach each design problem in a logical way.
Ask open-ended interview questions to gather as much information from candidates as possible.
Once a candidate provides an answer, follow up with additional questions if necessary. Along with whiteboard design challenges and other practical assessments, these questions can help you find employees who mesh well with your company's culture and have just the right combination of hard and soft skills.
1. Can you give me an example of a time you had to conduct A/B testing to improve the user experience?
Asking this question gives you an opportunity to find out if the candidate has any experience using split testing to make design decisions. When each person answers, listen for an explanation of how they chose their variables and what type of information they were trying to gather during the testing process.
You also want to hear about how the candidate selected a testing goal, formulated their hypothesis, and designed two versions of the same variable. Listen for phrases such as "sample size" and "data analysis" to confirm that the candidate has extensive experience in this aspect of product design.
2. If you had to choose just one case study from your portfolio to represent your entire body of work, which one would you choose and why?
This question provides deeper insight into each candidate's approach to design thinking. Instead of asking multiple questions about user pain points, design decisions, and use cases, you can ask one question that covers a variety of topics. Listen for candidates to answer the following questions as they walk you through one of their previous product design portfolio projects:
- Were they involved in identifying the market opportunity for the new product? If so, what was their role?
- What kind of research did they do to identify the intended user's needs?
- How did they determine which problem to solve?
- Did they brainstorm with other team members, or did they come up with most of the design ideas on their own?
- What changes did they make for each iteration of the project?
- How did they approach the prototyping process?
- What type of testing did they do to make sure their proposed solution would meet the needs of all stakeholders?
Ultimately, you want the candidate to touch on each important aspect of the design process, such as defining a vision, conducting product research, analyzing the end user's needs, creating prototypes, and testing proposed solutions.
3. In your opinion, what are the major differences between designing a physical product and designing a digital product?
Product designers need to understand the major differences between physical products and digital products, both in terms of how they're used and how each type of product contributes to a company's bottom line. When you ask this question, you're looking for candidates to tell you how familiar they are with digital design versus physical design. You also want them to show that they understand how each type of design is likely to affect a company's production costs.
Listen for answers that mention at least a few of the following points:
- When it's appropriate to offer a physical good vs. a digital good
- How offering digital goods can increase a company's revenue without a significant increase in manufacturing costs, sales commissions, or delivery costs
- Important considerations when determining if you should offer a physical product or a digital product
- Advantages and disadvantages of each type of product
- Tradeoffs between functionality and design when creating digital products
- Designing digital products for iOS, Android, and other operating systems
You're looking for candidates who clearly understand that different users need different types of products to meet their needs. The best candidates will also demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of how product design influences a firm's revenue and expenses.
4. Describe your experience working with user personas and using them to better understand the end user for each product you design.
Many companies rely on user personas to make design decisions that are likely to satisfy end users. If your company is one of them, you need to hire a UX designer or UI designer who understands the importance of user personas and knows how to use them correctly. Asking this question helps you understand each candidate's level of familiarity with user personas. It can also help you identify candidates who have the potential to advance into product management at some point in their careers.
When you ask this question, listen for brief mentions of the following topics as each candidate responds:
- How user personas are developed
- The type of information included in a user persona (e.g. demographics, psychographics)
- How the candidate incorporates the persona's motivations into each design decision
- The importance of user personas in product design
- How user personas help prevent common design mistakes, such as designing for the self instead of designing for the end user
- What makes a useful persona
- Collecting information about potential users
- Identifying behavioral patterns among members of the target audience
- The importance of creating multiple personas
- How to prioritize personas during the design process
A good candidate doesn't need to mention every topic, but their answer should clearly show that they know what user personas are, have experience using them to make design decisions, and understand why user personas are so useful for product designers.
5. How do you see your career progressing over the next 5 to 10 years?
When you hire a new employee, you want them to stay with your company for as long as possible. After all, it costs money to publish job advertisements, screen applications, conduct interviews, and train new staff members. If someone leaves just a few months after their hire date, you have to go back to the drawing board and spend even more money to hire a replacement.
Asking this question can help you determine if the candidate is truly interested in the job and wants to grow with your company.
As an added bonus, asking this question helps you identify candidates who may qualify for more advanced roles after several years of employment as a product designer. This can help with succession planning, ensuring that your firm has a pipeline full of talented staff who are ready to step into advanced roles as other employees retire or leave the firm for other opportunities.
There's no correct answer to this question, but the best candidates will explain exactly how they see themselves contributing to your company. They may also use phrases to indicate that they plan to stay with your company for at least a few years. Listen for statements such as "After 5 years as a product designer with the company, I'd be interested in moving into a product manager role."
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6. Give me an example of a time you had to collaborate with multiple stakeholders to tackle a tough design challenge.
Collaboration is a key aspect of working as a product designer. A designer must be able to accept critical feedback, listen to solutions proposed by other team members, and work closely with members of other departments to ensure that new products satisfy stakeholders' needs. If your company does a lot of redesign projects, a product designer may also have to collaborate with members of the original design team.
When you ask this question, you want to hear answers that indicate a candidate is capable of resolving conflict successfully, accepting feedback with grace, and collaborating effectively with the entire product team and beyond. If you're recruiting for a startup, ask follow-up questions that help you determine if a product designer is capable of collaborating effectively in an environment that embraces risk and rejects the use of rigid processes.
7. How do you ensure your design work helps clients achieve their business goals? Can you provide at least one example?
Whether you're looking for someone to do interaction design or physical product design, you need employees who can contribute to your company's success. In product design, creating visually appealing designs is just one piece of the puzzle. Product designers also need to make decisions that help businesses reach their goals. When you ask this question, you're looking for candidates to demonstrate their understanding of the general business environment and explain how their work fits into your overall business.
Listen for terms such as revenue, expenses, cost of goods sold, manufacturing costs, profitability, profit margin, and bottom line. Using these terms indicates that a candidate has a good grasp of how product design helps a company generate revenue and minimize its production expenses.
8. What success metrics or KPIs do you use to determine if your designs are successful?
Whether you're conducting a PM interview or looking for an entry-level product designer, you need to know how each candidate measures their success. As noted previously, visually appealing designs are just one aspect of a product designer's ability to contribute to your organization. You need to find someone who knows how to take their designs and use them to satisfy key stakeholders.
Listen for candidates to mention the following KPIs in their answers:
- Time to goal: When using a product for the first time, every user has a goal in mind. The less time it takes to reach that goal, the more successful the product is.
- Success rate: Success rate is determined by dividing the number of people who achieved their goal by the total number of people who used the product. If 97 out of 100 people achieve their goal, then the product has a 97% success rate. The higher the success rate, the better the product performs.
- Failure rate: Failure rate is the opposite of a product's success rate. It's expressed as the number of people who didn't achieve their goal divided by the total number of users. If 22 out of 100 users don't achieve their goal, that represents a failure rate of 22%. The lower the failure rate, the more successful a product is.
- Return rate: If your company offers digital products, return rate is an important KPI. It represents the number of users who use the product repeatedly, rather than using it once, never to return. A high return rate indicates that the design team has created a seamless experience, making it easy for customers to use the digital product as intended.
9. What do you think is the most challenging step in the product design process? Why?
Asking this question helps you understand any weaknesses a candidate is likely to have if you hire them as a member of your product design team. For example, if a candidate tells you they struggle to apply feedback from stakeholders, you'll know they may not be a good fit for a design team that prioritizes effective collaboration.
A candidate's answer to this question can also give you more insight into how they approach product design or collaborate with other team members. Candidates may share information about the development of user personas, ideation, prototyping, testing, or validation, giving you valuable information about their ability to fit in with other design professionals.
10. Do you think it's wise to make tradeoffs between visual design and usability?
10. Do you think it's wise to make tradeoffs between visual design and usability? Why or why not?
Experienced digital product designers know there's always some type of tradeoff between visual design and usability. Asking this question can help you determine a product designer's experience level and find out how they respond to design and usability challenges.
For example, one candidate might explain that they prioritize usability over design, as end users are typically more concerned with functionality than visual appeal. Another designer might tell you that they prefer to focus on the visual appeal of their designs.
Neither answer is wrong, but asking this question can help you determine if the candidate is a good fit for your organization. If your company prioritizes function over form, then the first candidate may be the better choice. A company that prioritizes design over functionality might be better off hiring the second candidate.
Ace Your Next Product Design Interview
If your company needs an experienced creative professional, use Dribbble Hiring to find some of the best product designers for hire. Amazon, Asana, and other innovative companies use Dribbble Hiring to identify top talent and minimize their recruiting costs. Our Designer Search makes it easy to find design professionals based on location, budget, specialty, and other criteria. You can even post product design jobs to the Dribbble Job Board.
If you’re a product designer applying for your next role, before your next interview, take some time to update your portfolio, make sure your LinkedIn profile reflects your most recent experience, and review the questions above to ensure you feel confident when it's time to meet the hiring manager. Your product designer cover letter may help you get in the door, but it's your design skills and ability to answer tough questions that will help you land the job of your dreams.
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