Illustration by Simona Toader
Interviewing for a job should never be a one-way conversation. It’s essential to not only answer all questions that an interviewer asks you, but also to be ready to ask questions that are important to you.
Designers who know how to build a great UX portfolio may have a lot of opportunities and prospects. But your decision to work at a particular company should not be based on whether they have a ping pong table or free beer on Fridays. These are nice perks, but you probably also want to grow your career, and you’ll only know if this employer will offer you the chance to do that if you ask the right questions during the interview.
Asking thoughtful questions will show that you are interested in learning more about the position, the company, and how you will fit into the organization. Below are the top 10 questions to ask in a UX interview to help you discover the answers you need about the position.
1. What is your design process?
After kicking off a project, what is the UX team’s process to turn ideas into a real product? In many cases, the UX team’s design process is a reflection of the type of project they are working on and the constraints they have (time and budgets).
If your interviewer doesn’t have a clear answer to this question, that may be a red flag. Having a solid process in place, or at least a framework, helps teams run efficiently meaning less stress and fewer last-minute changes to worry about.
2. How does the role of a UX designer fit into your organization?
This question can be an extension of the one above. Design is a team sport, and the answer will help you understand how the UX team interacts with other groups, such as developers and marketing specialists. As your interviewer answers this question, expect to hear about the structure of the design team (the roles within the team), key responsibilities of individual team players (e.g., what UX designers do, what UX researchers do, etc.), and the type of relationship the design team has with clients and stakeholders (how the team interacts with key stakeholders).
3. What does your typical day look like?
This question will help you learn more about your duties and responsibilities on a day-to-day basis if you were to get the job. You might learn about some additional skills you’ll need that weren’t initially listed in the job description—make sure to address these, if you didn’t speak to them earlier!
The answer you receive may also lead to additional topics for discussion and other design interview questions you didn’t think to ask. For example, if you hear that the UX team does not invest much time in user research, you might want to learn why that is.
4. What is the typical career path for someone in this position?
When you interview for a particular position, you want to know whether you’ll mature professionally and take on responsibility progressively within the company. The answer to this question will show you whether the company can offer the opportunities you’re looking for.
For a newly created position, the answer to the question will indicate whether the company’s senior management has thought about the role beyond their immediate needs and how they’ll retain and grow talent over the long-term.
5. Why is this position open or why did you create it?
This question will help you learn more about the needs and goals of a company. When you know why the company is looking for new employees, you will better understand the challenges and opportunities you may come across if you join the team.
For example, if the reason they’re hiring is that the company is growing quickly, it might be helpful to follow up with questions about how they handle (and prevent) burnout. Remember that this could also lead to additional opportunities, as well; if you enjoy training others, you could take an active role in the education and onboarding of new employees down the line.
6. How does your company maintain work-life balance?
Always include this one on the list of your design interview questions. Why? Because the right work-life balance is vital for long-term success in any position. Good work-life balance will help you avoid UX burnout and will keep you motivated to come to work each day. When you ask this question, listen for a consistent daily work structure and routine in place. A consistent work structure can lower project stress when dealing with deadlines and provide a level workload during design and development.
7. What are the learning/mentoring opportunities within the company?
Whether you’re at the beginning of your career journey or you’re a seasoned UX designer, it’s always important to learn more about the craft, including familiarizing yourself with UX best practices or UI design fundamentals. Attending workshops and conferences is a great way to expand your knowledge base and think of new design approaches you can bring back to the team. A good company will support continuing professional development, so make sure you’re happy with their answer—whether that’s providing in-house training programs or a budget for attending conferences.
8. What is the vision or direction of the company for the next few years?
If you read our article about UX designers to watch, you know that the design field’s best talents share one similar characteristic—they have a solid design vision. Vision is equally important with organizations.
The answer to this question is a glance at the future. Depending on the nature of the company (start-up, boutique design firm, or large corporation), the answer will offer a better understanding of the company’s ultimate goals. If the company’s direction excites you, make sure to show that energy to your interviewer!
9. What do you (the interviewer) like the best about working here?
Everyone has a reason for liking the type of work they do and the workplace environment, whether it be the process, the challenging nature of the work, being part of a collaborative team, or something else. The interviewer may also use this question as an opportunity to share insights into the benefits and opportunities that the company offers. For example, some companies offer their employees the opportunity to participate in a local sports league or time off to volunteer with a local community group.
10. What are the next steps in this process?
At the end of the interview, don’t forget to ask the most important question: “What are the next steps?”
This question will help you find out when you will hear back from the company and what the next steps are for moving forward. The interviewer should give a general timeframe for follow-up interviews and let you know when the company expects to fill the position.
Final tips for your UX design interview
“How much will I earn?”, “Do you have annual bonuses?”, and “Will my official title be Senior UX Designer?” should not be among questions to ask in a UX interview. Don’t make money or title the focus of your questions; focus instead on what you have to offer the company and what the company can offer you in terms of learning opportunities and potential career advancement. Finding a good fit within an organization should always trump compensation.
Also, remember to send a thank-you note immediately after the interview. Restate why you are interested and/or the best fit for the job and personalize it by focusing on a detail that the interviewer found interesting or that was a major part of your discussion.
Interviewing a company is an integral part of your career decision-making process. Think about your long-term plans and where you want to go with your career, and make sure the role you accept fits with that vision. It’ll all be worth it when you find that perfect fit!