How to get a coveted job: tips from leading designers


Ben Blumenfeld, journalist Fastcodesign, talked with leading designers Square, Dropbox and Flipboard and learned how to behave in interviews to give you the chance to realize your startup and show it to the world. What do experts advise?
Understand the company and its problems

“Designers spend so much time creating beautiful work and training portfolio. But they should not forget how important are the questions prepared in advance about the projects on which we work, our clients, team or something else. Should be concerned about before the presentation! says Chris Heimbuch, Director of creative activities at the Square. When we conduct interviews with designers in Facebook, often offer the candidates to submit a few ideas of how you can improve a certain product. This helps to see whether there is enough willing people to work and what is its relation to assigned tasks.

Not just learn more about the company, where will be the interview. First of all, find out for yourself, in what areas it works. If you plan to work in Facebook – know all about social networks, if Pinterest – be knowledgeable in visual bookmarks”.

“When I talk with the designer, we want to feel enlightened, says Marcos Weskamp, one of the designers of Flipboard. – If people are really concerned about the problems of the company, not only as a separate product, it would be very easy to understand what needs to be improved. Good designers do not know exactly what the company operates. They just have ideas how to make it more successful. The most promising candidate differs that has a particular point of view on the product. And that look different from those that were presented in the team”.

Seek not position, and role

“Good designers often go wrong because of “being”, as it sounds the position, says Nate Kerck, design Director at Change.org. Candidates should understand the role they are applying for, so you commit during the interview to get it. For example, product designers must assure me that you know how to create a product that will be useful and will bring pleasure; communication designers that know how to be convincing. Different companies have different capabilities to work in positions with the same name. Check podataka exactly there and exactly at that role.”

Create your online portfolio and constantly add to it



“It is very important that the candidate has established a formal presentation of their work and not just show the portfolio in which they collected, says Jonathan Lieberman, Director of product design and user experience at One Kings Lane. – This will not only allow the designer to control the story, but also give the chance to see employers how the candidate feels about color, composition and the like.”

Don’t assume your work will speak for itself. Broadcasting should be as polished as the visuals. “Be sure to rehearse the presentation of your portfolio! This is a unique chance to show themselves to the team,” advises Soleio Cuervo, Director of design at Dropbox.

Show the process rather than the end result

“The most important thing that shows the designer – portfolio – convinced Kerck with Change.org. Often it is only the result that little evidenced. The project can tell me about the problem and inspire her decision – that’s amazing”.

Other experts agree that interviewers want to see how you think and work, not just what you can do. “It is important to show the interactive process of design creation, from concept to sketches precise designs, says Lieberman with One Kings Lane. The most interesting part for me is not the result but the opportunity to hear, how did the concept of the idea the designer had rejected and which embodied”.

How the candidate will explain their choice, is a signal for employers. “We are more concerned about “why”, says Cuervo with Dropbox. What do you find limiting? Many of the concepts were until you made a final decision? Don’t show us the slide-show screen-shots of your work. We will look at workflow!”

Admit your own mistakes

“One of the biggest mistakes is when a candidate is “throwing under the bus” his previous team, past design solutions, shares his thoughts Stephenie Hornung, lead designer at Asana. – It’s great to say that you wanted to work differently. But when the designer speaks badly about ex-employees or company, it shows that he recognizes and respects the work of others. A good designer needs to see the wider picture”.

Ask the interviewer

This is good advice for any job. “When candidates do not have many questions to the employer, it is a signal that the person is not too interested in what we do – says an employee of Square Heimbuch. – There is a lot to ask about how our team coordinated with other teams of designers, what is the structure of the work. Ask questions like: “Guys, you create your own design?” or “How design decisions affect brands?”

Photo: stock-up.

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