Interview Questions to Ask Web Designers: The “Secret” List

| July 17, 2014
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I’ve been interviewing a lot of amazing web designers lately (we might even still have some open positions) and there is a specific list of questions I always choose from. But, those questions have always been a bit of a secret.

I promise, it wasn’t intentional. The list just lived inside my trusty Evernote account and never saw the light of day. So, now we’re going to fix that.

To help out other companies that are hiring web designers (and to help designers going through interviews), I’m publishing the list.

But, before you read the questions, there are a few guidelines:

Guidelines for these questions

  • Please don’t read these word-for-word to candidates. These questions should be your guide, not your script :).
  • Please don’t ask EVERY question on this list. Consider this your treasure trove of interview questions. Maybe you’ll ask 10 of them, maybe you’ll ask 2 — whatever works best for you.
  • Please contribute to this list. These questions are certainly not “mine.” I’ve collected most of these from friends, colleagues, and other websites. If you have one you’d like to add to the list then simply add it in the comments. I’d love for this to be a hearty resource for our entire community.

The list is broken down into three groups:

  1. Good ol’ fashioned interview questions
  2. Questions to ask while reviewing their resume together
  3. Questions to ask while reviewing their portfolio together

Good ol’ fashioned interview questions

  • Describe your creative process.
  • What industry sites and blogs do you read regularly?
  • How comfortable are you with writing HTML entirely by hand?
  • What applications do you use daily?
  • What are a few of your favorite development tools and why?
  • What are a few sites you admire and why?
  • Tell me about your favorite project.
  • What are a few personal web projects you’ve got going on?
  • Who are some of your design heroes?
  • Give me an example of a project where you disagreed with the client’s direction and tell me how you handled it.
  • Give an example of a situation where someone challenged your design. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when you have disagreed with a design decision, what did you do?
  • What are some questions you ask when starting a new project?
  • How would you handle a project that looks like it will go over budget?
  • Tell me about some experiences you’ve had working with developers in the past.
  • How do you stay on top of current design trends?
  • How do you ensure that the development team understands the design (and delivers your vision)?
    • Note to the interviewer: Watch out for ‘throw-it-over-the-wall’ attitude
  • Did you ever have a situation when something you designed was not delivered as intended? Do you know why it happened? How did you react? What did you learn? What do you do to avoid such situations?
  • Have you had a chance to look through the site? How would you describe our brand?
  • We’re interested in helping people grow in their careers. Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
  • What things do you NOT like to do?
  • If you had a magic wand and could create the perfect job, what would it be?
  • What makes a great work environment for you?
  • Why are you looking to move on from your current role?
  • What do you expect from a supervisor?
  • What problems have you encountered at work?
  • Why do you want to work at our company?
  • Do you have any questions about the position or about our company that I can answer?

Questions to ask while reviewing their resume together

Look through their resume and find 2-3 jobs that you’d really like to know more about. For each of those jobs, use these questions to learn more.

  • What did you like most about that job? Why?
  • What didn’t you like about the job? Why?
  • What was your supervisor’s name?
    • If we asked them, what would they say is your biggest strength?
    • What would they say is one way you could improve?
    • What did you like about working with that boss?
    • What could that boss have done to improve?

Questions to ask while reviewing their portfolio together

  • Which project are you most proud of? What would you like to show off?
  • Walk me through the process you took. How did you get to this finished product?
  • Talk to me a bit about going from the first draft to this finished version. How many iterations were there? How did you get feedback?
  • How did you know when this was finished?
  • Who was the target audience for this design? How did it impact your work?

Help make this list better

Let’s make this list a living document. What do you ask that I left out? If you’re a designer, what should I ask that I haven’t? Send us your interview questions on Twitter @usertesting.

Contributors

This list was put together thanks to great questions from: Moz, Jason Putorti, Vitamin Talent, Danny Gugger, David Raffauf, Karolina Coates and AHFX.