What are the 20 common graphic designer interview questions?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you think makes someone a good designer?
- How do you stay abreast of the latest design trends?
- Where do you get graphic design inspiration from?
- Do you prefer to work as a team or solo?
- How do you handle tight deadlines?
- How do you incorporate feedback into designs?
- Describe your creative process. What are the major steps involved?
- What kind of design projects do you love to work on?
- What key metrics do you use to track your design’s success?
Whether you are a seasoned designer or a fresh graduate, having studied in a college or through online graphic design courses, it’ll come to a point when you need to hit the streets to find yourself a great gig. Looking for the perfect job can be a nerve-wracking process, and to survive (and become successful), you need to go in fully prepared.
Applying for the job isn’t the most challenging part – the biggest block comes to you when you get shortlisted, and you need to impress the employers. This way, it is essential to put your best foot forward by getting prepared in advance to ace the interview. The interview provides you with the opportunity to learn more about the company as the interviewers try to learn more about you – checking whether you are the right fit in the process.
When walking into an interview, it is a no brainer that your heart begins to pound so hard as all the nervousness knocks on your doors simultaneously. Unfortunately, there is no magical cure for the anxiety you may get whenever you’re due to attend an interview. However, there are certain steps that you can to get yourself at ease and ready to ace the interview.
This post will go through some of the best tips you can follow when preparing for a graphic designer interview. You’ll also get to see 20 of the most common graphic designer interview questions and tips on how to respond to them.
Tips to help you prepare for your interview
Prepare your portfolio
As a graphic designer, it is ideal for you to have a compelling online portfolio as well as a physical copy to showcase during the interview. If you go for an online portfolio, ensure that the links are correctly working and everything is up to date. Since you can work with links, you can link out to a number of projects, even up to 20 if you need to.
However, if you’re going for a physical portfolio, you only need to showcase anywhere between 5 and 10 of your best projects. If you have worked long enough, you should ensure that the pieces are diverse and can really show off your skills.
Note that it is also okay to attach your sketches to the portfolio. Most employers would love to hear how you got your ideas and turned them into the final product.
Prepare your resume
Although a portfolio is an ultimate resume for a graphic designer, you also need to prepare your curriculum vitae and make at least three copies. At times, the people interviewing you for the job might be more than one, so you need to come prepared with more printed resumes, even if you’d sent it via email.
Research the company
Applying for an in-house job is a little different from applying for the same position as a freelancer. The main difference is that you need to know all that there is to know about the company before the interview day. You need to know their main tone and how they structure much of their work.
What is their most popular color code? Is there a particular pattern that their designers follow to come up with a final product? Do your due diligence by finding all that you can about the company, including their goals and vision. You never know as this might come up in your interview.
Be prepared to answer the questions.
This is an interview, so you should expect questions – and lots of them! You need to be well-knowledgeable about your field and ready to answer whatever question that comes your way.
One important thing to note is that interviewers will not just ask technical questions, but they will also ask you things to do with your personality and your understanding of trends, among other things. Fortunately, this post will take you through 20 of the most common questions with tips on how to respond to them.
Ask the interviewer questions.
It is always recommended to have at least 3 to 5 questions prepared to ask the interviewers whenever they ask you whether you have any questions. This shows them that you are proactive and a curious being.
Remember that all the questions you ask should be relevant to the company and to the role you’re applying for. Some of the questions that can help you curate custom queries can be:
- “What is an example of a client challenge that you recently faced?” Their response will help you understand the type of players in that team and how they are used to working. In your ‘thank you’ letter, you can even indicate some of the strategies or solutions you could use to solve some of those challenges.
- “What can make me successful in this role?” This question will make the interviewers think that you are an A-player and that you wish to ensure that you provide your best when given the position.
Although there are many other ways you can prepare yourself for the interview, these five tips will get you moving. Remember to write a ‘thank you’ note after the interview. You can get a little personal and even thank them for giving you the opportunity to interview and for them taking their time to listen to you.
Besides sounding courteous, doing this will make the interviewers see your enthusiasm about the job, and you might end up getting the job.
To help you get prepared even better, here are the 20 questions that you can expect to answer during the interview:
Graphic design interview questions and answers
1. Tell us more about yourself.
Whenever you get asked such a question, do not start getting worried about getting the right answer. Instead, such a question is a ‘blessing’ in disguise as it presents to you a chance to make yourself shine. Here, you need to explain why you are an excellent match for the job and how your qualities will prove you to be an asset to the team.
To ensure that you stand out from the other candidates, you need to ensure that instead of only focusing on your professional experience, you can also mix it with your personal interests and the job’s expectations. You can also highlight the various accomplishments that you can quantify to align the requirements of the job. Remember to show how both your skills and personality would be a great fit for the job.
2. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
When asked such a question, it means that the interviewers want to evaluate your qualities and what impact they might have on your work performance. Before the interview, you need to assess your skills and note down a list of your strengths and weaknesses.
By assessing your strengths, the employer will know how you can align your skills to the needs of the role. By telling them about your weaknesses, they will find out more about your honesty, transparency, and willingness to learn. By learning this, the employers will identify specific areas for self-development to focus on when (and if) you get hired.
When you’re discussing your weaknesses, you can also explain the steps you plan to take to develop the area your skills are lacking.
3. Why did you choose graphic design as a profession?
Most graphic design employers will ask you this question because they want to have a deeper understanding of who they are working with. The key thing to talk most about is the motivation that led you to choose graphic design as a career.
Perhaps you could mention your drawing techniques which you decided to further on, or your knack for creativity or something as plain as your wish to make the world more beautiful with better designs. Moreover, you can also touch on your personal experiences and educational background, as part of the reasons you decided to become a graphic designer.
4. Why are you interested in working for our company?
For every graphic design interview, you will ever attend, be ready always to answer such a question. This question is often asked to determine your interests in the company and also why you applied for the said position. The hiring manager will determine how much you’ve researched the company and how you prove to be an asset to the team.
Before handing the job to you, the interviewers will want to find out your motivations for the job. Depending on how you respond to this question, you increase your chances of getting hired as the hiring managers will now have a deeper understanding of your career goals.
Emphasize the parts of the position you feel most excited about how your role will align best with your interests and experience. You can also show how informed you are about the company by complimenting them on their work – specific areas you feel they outdid themselves.
5. What do you think makes someone a good designer?
This question seeks to identify your leadership skills and whether you are able to identify what to look for if you were in the shoes of the employer. Think about the different ways you can be a well-rounded creative.
Apart from someone having an excellent technical grasp of graphic designing, you can also mention other interpersonal skills such as time management, effective communication, good problem-solving skills, the ability to multitask, and someone always eager to learn. While emphasizing the qualities that a good designer should have, you can touch on how you compare.
6. Describe a time when you had a conflict at work and what you did
The workplace is full of conflict and misunderstandings – from uncooperative co-workers to disagreements with clients. When responding to this question, your main goal is to demonstrate your ability to navigate tricky situations and eventually come up with a good solution. In most cases, experts recommend using the S.T.A.R formula when answering such a question:
S or T (situation or task) – discuss the situation you faced either alone or as a group. Here you can also talk about a task you were working on and how you faced a difficult moment when working with it, a situation caused by a colleague or a client.
A (approach) – how did you take charge of the situation? What steps did you decide to follow as a counter-measure for the problem (conflict at hand)?
R (results) – as a result of your approach, what were the results? Did you solve the problem?
Regardless of how tight the conflict was, avoid disparaging the individual that was the cause or the team involved. Instead, you should focus more on the approach that you undertook and the steps that were involved.
7. How do you stay abreast of the latest design trends?
The graphic design space is constantly shifting, and so should the designers. Graphic designers should always stay aware of all the current trends that can help them keep their designs fresh and relevant. This question is mostly intended for the employer to understand how the candidate has a true passion and mindset for graphic design that can give their company a winning edge.
An example of an answer would be to indicate social media (following your design heroes or companies on Instagram), reading art magazines, blog articles, etc.
8. What is the latest design campaign that you’ve seen, and what do you like/or not like about it?
This is often asked in most graphic design interviews to determine how good the candidate’s critique skills are. As it is not just enough to say how well you liked or didn’t like a particular design or campaign, you should be able to offer your brief opinion on the reasons why.
You could base your rationale on how the particular campaign achieved its objectives or how ineffective it was. Some of the things to consider include the color used, the type of campaign it was used for, its imagery, copy, etc.
9. Where do you get graphic design inspiration from?
It is perfectly acceptable to mention your design heroes as where you get your inspiration from, but you should also show that you think outside the box – have a uniqueness that isn’t the stock standard. You can go ahead and mention other untraditional sources of design inspiration such as history, film, art, etc.
However, remember to only tie the source of inspiration to the needs of the business. You wouldn’t want to come out as someone who doesn’t understand brand differentiation and how the source of inspiration you put forward aligns with the needs of the business. To come up with an excellent answer to this question, you ought to be culturally aware and up to date on all the popular (and latest) design trends.
10. Do you prefer to work as a team or solo?
When asked whether you prefer working as a team or rather go solo on a project, the hirers want to find out if you are versatile enough to adapt to the needs of a particular project. You can use such an opportunity to highlight the benefits of both options and ascertain that you are comfortable working in both situations – as a team and alone.
A good way around this is to ask the employers about their team structures and how their teams collaborate towards a project. You can go ahead and provide them with examples of how you worked as a team and how you managed to ace a project as you worked on it solo. You can also add that depending on the needs of the specific task, you can work comfortably solo or as a team.
11. How do you handle tight deadlines?
Being a graphic designer entails managing projects and delivering them within short turnaround times. You can share stories on how you were able to work on a project (or projects) that was required within a short period and how you managed to submit it in time.
When talking about deadlines, you can share with the interviewers what keeps you focused and motivated throughout the entire process, from the start to the end. You can be specific on what the project entailed, the timelines you were given, and how you finally managed to meet the deadlines.
12. How do you incorporate feedback into designs?
Being a graphic designer means that you’ll be in regular communication with the client to ensure that you deliver something they would be satisfied with. When asking this question, the employers want to see if you are able to effectively work with clients and how you can incorporate their feedback into your designs.
You can take the interviewers through the process you undertake whenever you receive feedback regarding projects. You are also free to talk about a time that you did it.
13. How do you respond when a client gives you harsh criticism?
As a graphic designer, you will work with all sorts of different people. Some will offer your constructive feedback reasonably, while others will be harsh and uncaring when offering criticism. As a designer, you need to have the right skills to come to an agreement with the client without escalating the matter.
Even though you may be accustomed to working in a particular way, you should display the willingness to learn new methods by improving your adaptability. Another thing that the hirers often look for when asking this question is your appreciation for the feedback. The best way to respond to such a question is first to acknowledge that you don’t take criticism as a personal attack.
14. Describe your creative process. What are the major steps involved?
It is a rule of thumb that no good designer will just jump in and start designing a project. You should always take your time to understand the assignment, and depending on the said task, you can look through available data to determine the best course of action.
When responding to such a question, do not forget that leaving a chance for substantive feedback before submitting the final design is also a crucial step in the creative process. The main things to also include in the answer are:
- Your focus on planning
- Attention to detail
- How you manage your time
15. What kind of design projects do you love to work on?
This question seeks to help the hirers understand your passions and the type of work you love working on. By answering this, they are able to get a better understanding of your skills and experience. When telling them about what you love working on the most, be sure to include a list of examples you loved the most and why you prefer working on such projects.
You can also indicate the skills you prefer when working on such assignments, as this shows your proficiency in the field. Furthermore, if you specialize in a particular field, you can indicate that it is the area you love working on the most and that you believe you will get the chance to showcase your creative side when offered the opportunity to work in the company.
If you want to increase your chances of impressing the hirers even further, you can tie the company’s portfolio with the type of projects you love the most, and that is why you applied for a position in the said company.
16. Have you made any mistakes as a designer? Did you learn anything from the experience?
Employers are always scouting for someone that is honest and can own up to their mistakes by being accountable. Although this question seeks to also identify your weaknesses (or former weaknesses), you can use it as an opportunity to discuss a particular challenge you faced and how the experience impacted your career.
You can talk of how you learned from such a situation and what measures you put in place (or planning to put in place) to ensure that such mistakes don’t happen again. By responding to this question, you should also highlight that you always try to learn from every mistake made and using the experience to ensure such an error doesn’t occur in the future.
17. Tell me about your experience working remotely.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies now prefer working remotely. However, it would be right to say that this was the case for creatives for many years. Since one can easily be a freelance graphic designer working remotely, companies are now looking at the possibility of allowing their employees to work from home.
However, working remotely also presents its own challenges. To ace this question, you need to mention the importance of regular communication, accountability, and organizational skills.
18. What key metrics do you use to track your design’s success?
A good graphic designer doesn’t just stop at their own views or the approval of the client. They also look further than that in ensuring that they did a successful job by looking at other key metrics, more so, if the design was used for an online campaign.
A good design is able to communicate the message while attracting and engaging the audience effectively. Furthermore, your graphic design should be able to motivate people to take action. Metrics such as conversion rates and click-throughs would be a great start to offering a comprehensive answer to the question.
19. Where do you see yourself in the next few years?
The interviewers often ask this question to ascertain whether you have a clear vision planned out for your life or not. They also want to have a better understanding of your career goals as a graphic designer. Your response will also enable them to know how best you fit in the team. This might also be a trick question, as your answer must always align with the career trajectory of the role you applied for.
Your answer should also include the skills you wish to gain when hired under that role and how it would contribute to your professional development. However, ensure that you first research more on the company’s goals and values so that your response will not create conflict.
20. What are your salary expectations?
Always conduct extensive market research regarding the job you are applying for and find out the salary range prior to your interview. You can use websites such as Payscale and Glassdoor to approximate the salary range of such professionals based on your level of experience and location.
Do not set the bar too high or again too low when indicating how much you ought to be compensated. You should also factor in your skill level, and the years of experience you have.
Bonus question: What sets you apart from the other candidates?
Although you may not face this question in most interviews, it is a question that’s gradually gaining popularity in graphic design interviews. This is definitely a trick question as you may not have any prior knowledge of how your competition is like.
However, this is an opportunity that you can use to highlight your strengths and special skills that can make you stand out as the perfect candidate. Apart from mentioning your technical and personal skills, you can also note your transferable skills. If you have niche expertise, then you can indicate it.
Ready to ace your graphic design interview?
Although this isn’t a comprehensive list of all the questions that you’d expect during a graphic design interview, these 20 questions and recommended modes of response will be a good starting point to get you prepared. The answers that the hirers will look for will often change depending on the company, and that’s why we did not include specific answers to the questions. However, our responds guide will help keep you on the right track.
We hope that this post will be helpful to help you ace your interview, whether for an in-house designer or as a freelance graphic designer. For now, focus more on polishing your resume and portfolio and face that interview with confidence. All the best!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can I be given a task to work on during the interview?
A: Yes. Even though, in theory, your portfolio speaks for itself, some interviewers will give you a quick task to work on. In most cases, they are simply looking at your creative process and what angle you use to work on your projects. If you get this, do not panic. Relax, and even ask for more time if need be.
Q: How do I respond if I don’t have any weaknesses?
A: We are all human, and no one is perfect. We all have a weakness in one way or the other. The key here is to be as honest as possible. However, when talking about your shortcomings, you should not only mention the skills that you lack but also what you are trying to do to develop them. Avoid old tricks like “My weakness is working too much” as they no longer work.
Q: What level of education should you have to qualify as a graphic designer?
A: Graphic designing is more of a passion-driven career and not just what level of education you have achieved. However, before applying for corporate jobs, ensure that you get at least a Diploma in graphic design. Having a degree or higher levels of educations would be an added advantage.