Interviewing for any position is not a one-way conversation. It’s essential not only to answer all questions that an interviewer asks you but also be ready to ask questions that are important to you.

Deciding on working at a company should not be based on whether they have a ping pong table or free beer on Fridays, as much fun as that would be. These are nice perks, but you want to be able to grow your career, and you’ll only know if this employer will offer you the chance to do that if you ask good questions during the interview. Asking thoughtful questions will show that you are interested in learning more about the position, company, and how you will fit into the organization.

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What is the design process & and how does the UX team fit in?

When a project is kicked off, what is the process that the UX team engages in and the steps they take over the life of the project? Companies may change or evolve their design process based on the type and scale of projects they are working on and the constraints of their project budgets. The company should have a solid framework that includes research, analysis of user flows, and multi-step prototyping process. This will influence the type of role you will play within a project kick-off and how you’ll interact with peers and project teams.

The process should also include how the UX team is structured and operates. Does the team work within a separate UX division or are they placed on project teams? The process and structure will define reporting responsibilities (i.e. Product Manager or UX Lead) and the type of relationship the UX team has with clients and stakeholders.

What is the typical day like for someone in this position?

By asking this question, you can find out what your duties and responsibilities will be on a day-to-day basis. You’ll be able to see if there are opportunities for mentoring and learning new skills during the design cycle. Knowing the type of work to be done will help you look at the skills you bring to the position and the skills you will need to add in order to succeed in the role. The answer you receive to this question can also provide additional topics for discussion.

What is the typical career path for someone in this position?

If you are interviewing for an established junior role, the answer to this question will show you whether the company promotes from within and the types of opportunities for career advancement that are available. You want to know whether you’ll be able to mature professionally and take on responsibility progressively within the company.

For a newly created position, the answer to the question will indicate whether the senior management of the company has thought about the role beyond their immediate needs and are thinking about ways to retain and grow talent internally for the long term.

Why is this position open or created?

Initially, a company may only hire for senior roles in order to have a UX team that leverages established industry knowledge and experience. As a company grows and takes on more projects, its need for junior roles also grows.

How does the company maintain work-life balance?

Companies should have a consistent daily work structure and routine. A consistent work structure lowers project stress when dealing with deadlines and provides a level workload during design and development. You can find out about the opportunities for employees to work remotely or to change to flex hours when dealing with major life events or transitions. Work-life balance will keep you motivated to come to work each day and avoid burnout.

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, new trends, changing methodologies and best practices. Attending workshops and conferences is a great way to expand your knowledge base and bring back new ideas and techniques back to the company. The company should show a commitment to upgrading the skills of their staff by supporting continuing professional development. If you enjoy the type of work you are doing, it is natural to want to learn and grow your skill set. Having opportunities to hone your craft and skills is essential when starting with a career.

What is the vision or direction of the company for the next few years?

It is beneficial for you to find out where the company sees itself now and in the future within the industry and how it wants to position itself in the marketplace. Depending on the nature of the company (startup, boutique design firm or large corporate), the answer will provide an idea of the direction and vision of the company. If the direction of the company excites you, tell the interviewer that you want to be part of the company’s direction and vision.

What do you (the interviewer) like the best about working for (the company)?

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 they do, being part of a collaborative team, or making a notable contribution to a project. The interviewer can also provide some insight into additional perks that the company offers. Some companies offer staff the opportunity to participate in a local sports league or time off to volunteer with a local community group.

What’s next?

At the end of the interview, don’t forget to end with the important question “What are the next steps?” to promote additional interaction. Design interview questions like these find out when you will hear back from the company and what the next steps are for moving forward. This question will show your interest in continuing with the job application process. The company should give a general time frame for follow-up interviews and let you know when the company expects to fill the position.

Remember to send a personalized thank-you note immediately after the interview, which shows your interest in the position and restates why you are interested and/or the best fit for the job. Focus on a detail that the interviewer found interesting or that was a major part of your discussion during the interview.

Questions about salaries and benefits should not be part of any initial interview. Don’t make the 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 a positive organizational culture trumps compensation. If you are using a recruiter, they will provide you with the salary and benefits information if you are offered the job and will negotiate the terms of employment on your behalf. 

Interviewing the company is an important part of your career decision-making process. Think about the long term and where you want to go with your career and what you will learn in the position. You want the company to invest in you and grow your skills.