If you’re getting ready for that big interview for your dream job in web design, don’t miss your chance to prepare. There really is a lot you can do to get ready to nail it. Here are 8 things you’ll be asked about web design in an interview, and some ideas about how you can respond.
1. What kind of design software are you familiar with?
Interviewers ask this question to assess whether you are able to use their in-house software, and if you don’t, how quickly you can learn what they use. Always try to research the company in advance so you know what kind of software they use. If you can’t find out the specific software, know exactly what kinds of work they do so you have some solid guesses and know what they likely want you to use.
Now that you’re in the ballpark, if you already use those programs, your answer is easy. If you don’t know them yet, tell them what you do know, and include any software you think they could be using. Your proficiency in similar kinds of software may help you learn theirs, and you should point out connections so they see them. You should also emphasize that you are eager to learn new software, and describe your success in learning new software in the past.
“I think it’s important to know multiple software programs, because each has its strengths and weaknesses. I’m very familiar with [software programs they are likely to use or which are close to what they might need], so I will be able to learn quickly and get up to speed.”
2. What is your web design process?
Don’t wing it with this one. You need to have planned this out so it’s clear that you do have enough experience to have formulated a process. Employers ask you this because they want to know how you work, how quickly you work, and what kinds of problems you’re likely to have. You need to show them that you’re organized enough to leave room for critiques and revisions, that you can meet deadlines, and that you’ve done enough work to actually have established a process at all.
“When I start a new project, I create a few milestones so I can watch my own progress. Next, I define the scope and ensure I’m in line with client expectations. I then usually do the wireframes and architecture, and again check in before moving on to visual design and development steps. Of course, at each step of the way I always want to incorporate client feedback and improve my work.”
3. What have you learned from your mistakes as a web designer?
Employers know that everyone makes mistakes, but they want the best designers who have learned from each misstep. This means you need to show them that you’ve done just that, learned from each error, without seeming incompetent. Remember, this means showing them how you became a better web designer, not how you saved face. Show them that you are a wise investment, and that you will become a better web designer and a more valuable asset over time.
4. What are your web design career goals?
This is a tricky question, especially at an entry level interview, because you need to show that you are ambitious without sounding like their company is just a meaningless stepping stone. Let them see your ambition as a company asset, and your goals in line to benefit them, too. If your dream is to work in web design at a company like Google, translate your reasons into goals that work more generally:
“I want to create code and web designs at with a company that values innovation so that I can produce a truly unique body of work and stay challenged.” You’re telling the employer that you have ambitions and that you want to do cool things, but that those goals can be put to work for their company. They want to grow and innovate, too.
5. What do you do to improve your knowledge of web design?
Yes, your interviewer expects that you already have a great education and background in web design. However, they also want to know that you will always be working to improve your skills and knowledge, not resting on your laurels. Talk about your most important classes and how they made you a better web designer. Talk about industry publications you refer to, blogs you follow, forums you participate in, and any other ways you grow as a web designer. You can also mention areas you hope to pursue in the future.
6. Can I see your portfolio?
Obviously the answer is yes, but don’t stop there! Be prepared for follow-up questions about your process and design goals for each piece, and explain how you created them and provide other details. Even if they don’t ask for more information, give it to them. This is your chance to showcase your work. Begin and end with your best work, and focus on those pieces when time is short. If you’re just out of school, choose work that shows off all of the techniques you have mastered; if you’re more established, choose work that proves your web design is appealing and marketable.
7. What makes a good web designer?
This is a perfect opportunity to show insight into your industry—and a trap for people who aren’t prepared. Interviewers hear the same things over and over again, so endeavor to surprise them in a meaningful way. Display your knowledge of web design by listing a comprehensive range of qualities that make a web designer great, and make sure you list not just technical or creative qualities, but practical qualities like meeting deadlines as well.
“A great web designer understands the ways that new technologies, creative intuition, and organization work together. For me, watching for new trends in technology as well as creative styles is a priority, and I also work to manage my time well using [whatever tools you use].”
8. What kind of web design projects do you hope to work on?
Ideally, your interviewer wants to find web designers who are interested in the work they have to offer. This is another place where researching the company really pays off; highlight points where your interests and the firm’s work intersect while staying honest. If all else fails, stay broad, and let them know you like projects that are a challenge or projects that allow for team collaboration.
Of course there are many other web design interview questions that you may face, but this is a great place to start. Start out by getting really polished with your answers to these basic questions. Then, take your interview to the next level with research on the company before you go in. If you make this your web design interview practice, you’ll knock your interviews out of the park.