Whether you’re an experienced designer or a recent graduate from a graphic design course, whether that’s online or in person, you’ll probably come to a point where you’ll start looking for that perfect job again. And we know how nerve-wracking the job search process can be! But once you’ve landed that interview, it’s essential to put your best foot forward! Prepare yourself in advance and be confident in your skills since the hiring manager wants to meet the graphic designer behind the portfolio. The interview gives you an opportunity to have a conversation about the company, learning more about the team and the job.
Preparing for a graphic design interview is like preparing for any interview, but with a few extra steps in the process. Make sure you’ve had a think about what kinds of questions you might be asked and how you might answer them (keep reading for more help on this!). Perfect these answers and keep them in your head, but make sure they don’t sound too planned and formulaic when you’re actually answering in the interview—act natural, they want to get to know you!
Also, make sure your graphic design portfolio is ready for you to share with the interviewers. They’ve already seen it during your application but this doesn’t mean you can’t give it one final polish before you head in to the interview. It always a good reminder of what projects you’ve got in there so you’re ready to speak eloquently about your amazing work.
Finally, don’t forget a bottle of water—you’ll be talking a fair bit so it’s good to stay hydrated! Now, take a deep breath, calm your mind and dive in.
In this list, we asked our experienced Shillington teachers to share their top 15 graphic design interview questions they’ve commonly encountered during interviews, with some useful tips on how to answer each question.
This is your chance to make yourself shine and explain why you’re a great match! Think of it as your elevator pitch where you concisely summarise your work experience and how it pertains to the role. This is a great way to make you stand out from other candidates, but make sure the qualities you talk about are a mix of your personal interests that also tie in to your professional experience and the expectations of the position.
Tip: Highlight your accomplishments with examples you can quantify that clearly align your experience with the requirements of the job. Show how both your skills and personality would be a great fit for the job and team.
The work you select from your graphic design portfolio should be relevant to the design position you’re applying for and discussed as a case study. In your presentation, clearly explain the brief, process, tools used, rationale for the design elements and the final outcome. Discussing your project is a great way to show your personality and passion for design. The interviewer wants to gain a better insight into your thought process and how you talk about your work. You can also mention other creatives that inspire you and how you’re aware of trends and what’s going on in the global design community.
Tip: If the position you are applying for is a UX role, bring in a folio piece that highlights your best UX work where you can discuss the case study in depth, from how you addressed the brief to finding a solution. The interviewer wants to see how you communicate your ideas along with the ideation process. Depending on how the interview goes, you can also bring in a personal project that will give insight into your visual style and interests.
Evaluate your graphic design skills and share examples of what you find your strengths and weaknesses to be. The hiring manager is trying to evaluate your qualities and how it will impact your work performance. In assessing your strengths, they want to know how transparent and empathetic you are and how your skills align to the needs of the role. If there are any areas for improvement you can explain how you are working on specific areas for self-development.
Tip: Think through areas where you can improve by explaining the steps you will take to develop in an area where your skills are lacking, such as taking a course on a specific program to upskill. When talking about your strengths, be specific about your personal qualities and professional skills and how it relates to the requirements of the job.
This may be one of the most important graphic design interview questions you can be asked as it shows your interest in the company and position you’re applying for. The hiring manager wants to see how your skills will help their bottom line and how much research you’ve done about their company.
Tip: Make sure you are clear on how you will be an asset to the team. Hiring managers use this question to understand if you’re a good fit and gain a better understanding of your motivations for the job and career goals. Make sure to emphasize the parts of the role that you feel most excited about and how the responsibilities align with your experience and interests. Show how informed you are about the company by commenting on their work, culture and ethics—creating a dialogue by asking additional questions you may have and gaining further insight about the team and clients they work with.
Apart from being a skilled designer, think about the ways in which you are a well-rounded creative—emphasizing the requirements of the job. Some of the qualities you may wish to highlight are interpersonal skills, efficient with time management, juggling multiple projects, problem-solving skills and always eager to learn.
Tip: After indicating the qualities that make you a great team player, explain how your design skills can help with tackling a client brief, including your process and how you would approach a project. Emphasize the qualities you think a great designer should possess and how do you compare?
This is a great opportunity to show off your critique skills! It’s not enough to say you liked or disliked a particular campaign. Explain your rationale behind your opinion and how the campaign answered the brief clearly or inefficiently.
Tip: Think about a project you worked on or a campaign you saw recently. Try to break it down on how the execution answered the brief—did it achieve the goal by appealing to the target demographic through the use of colour, type, copy and imagery?
Want to learn how to ace your interview? Here are 18 steps to follow.
Show your interests, tastes and curiosities through your hobbies and the creatives that you admire. The key is to show your uniqueness that isn’t the stock standard. Although it’s perfectly fine to talk about your design heroes, you should also draw inspiration from other areas such as film, art, music, pop culture and history.
Tip: Try to tie-in inspiration that you think will align with the needs of the business. You want to highlight that you’re culturally aware and stay updated on design trends, being someone who is knowledgeable of brand differentiation and how it aligns with business needs.
The company wants to see how versatile you are and how well you can adapt to the needs of a project. This is a great opportunity to highlight the positive aspect of both options and that you are capable of working efficiently as a team and alone.
Tip: Ask the hiring manager about the team structure and how their teams work together. You can provide examples of situations where you worked successfully as part of a team and demonstrated accountability for a project you worked on alone. Explain that depending on the needs of the task, you can work independently and work collaboratively with a team.
Managing projects with short turnaround times are part of being a designer. Share a story of how you managed a time-sensitive project and prioritized tasks. The hiring manager wants to gain an understanding of how you handle a variety of projects.
Tip: Share a story of how meeting a tight deadline on a project helped you stay focused and motivated to complete on time. Get very specific about the project you worked on, the timelines you were working with and how you successfully met the deadline. As designers, we know client deadlines are always short and work needs to be completed as soon as possible. That’s why at Shillington we prepare our students for the design industry by working on real-world briefs so that they can succeed professionally.
The purpose of this graphic design interview question is to get a better sense of who you are, your passions, the way you work and the types of assignments you enjoy. Talking about the projects you like working on the most shows your range of skills and experience. You can talk about your past work projects along with both freelance and personal work. Make sure to discuss the assignments in detail and what you loved about each one.
Tip: By describing the projects you enjoy working on, you can discuss the skills you used to accomplish each assignment, showing your proficiency, organizational skills and strong work ethic. If you specialize in a specific area, you can highlight how you want to do more of this type of work which is the reason you applied for the given job in the first place. You can also tie-in the company’s portfolio and comment that this is the quality and variety of work you wish to work on in the future.
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Look back on your prior work experience and have a clear story of the situation, the mistake you made and how you addressed it. Talk about how you were able to learn from this experience and would handle this situation in the future. Employers want to hire someone who is honest and capable of owning up to their mistakes by being accountable. Make sure to use this as an opportunity to discuss a complex situation, how you came up with the solution and the learning you gained to avoid this from happening in the future.
Tip: If the mistake was an error the team made collectively, explain that story in detail and how it was handled. Highlight that you are the type of person who tries their best to learn from every mistake and using the experience to improve process and efficiency. The key is to show that you’re someone who can be accountable and use each error as a learning experience.
The hiring manager wants to get a better understanding of your career goals as a graphic designer, what you wish to accomplish, longevity with the company and how well you will fit in with the team. Your answer should be sincere but also align with the career trajectory for the role.
Tip: Talk about the skills you hope to gain in this role if you are successful in getting hired for the job and how this position will contribute to your professional development and career goals. By gaining insight into the company’s goals and values, you can ensure that your response aligns with their mission.
This is a great opportunity to talk about your interests outside of design. Highlight any interesting stories that are connected with your passions, along with your other training that can be an asset to your current career.
Tip: Discuss a recent project you’ve worked on that is related to a personal hobby or how a class you’ve taken helped you develop relevant skills to align with your goals.
This is becoming more of a common question to hear at an interview. Make sure to do your research for the market and job title prior to your interview to get a better understanding of the salary range you should ask for that will match your experience and skills.
Tip: To get more familiar with graphic design salary averages for designers based on your level of experience and city of residence, use a website like Glassdoor or Payscale. When asked for salary expectations, you can reinforce your flexibility but set an expectation that you should be compensated fairly for your years of experience and skill level.
Always make sure you have a list of questions to ask your interviewer which will highlight that you came prepared and have done your research. This will also give you some insight if the company culture will be the right fit for you.
Tip: Ask questions relating to the position and how the team works together. Some questions you may consider asking include—what they love about their company, team structure, what kind of projects you will be working on in the next 6-12 months and the expectations of the role. Make sure to not discuss the perks until the negotiation phase!
This is definitely a tricky question as you do not know what your competition looks like! But this is a great opportunity to highlight your strengths and skills to make sure you shine as the top applicant. Think about what may set you apart from other applicants, taking into consideration both your technical and design experience. The hiring manager needs to have a clear idea of why you’re the top candidate.
Tip: Perhaps you have niche expertise that is not common for the industry. Discuss how your past experience in several areas allowed you to gain the knowledge needed that will help you excel at this job, ranging from technical to transferable and personal skills.
We hope these common graphic design interview questions and answers will help you prepare for your next interview! Although this isn’t a comprehensive list of everything you may encounter, this is a great starting point to get you prepared. Now get focused on polishing up that portfolio, perfect your answers and get ready to talk about your experience with confidence! Best of luck!
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