The Top 10 Product Design Interview Questions (And Answers)

CareerFoundry Blog contributor John Cheung

You’ve put in the hours to find a product design opening at a company you like. You’ve polished your portfolio, tweaked your resume, and written a solid cover letter. Over the first hurdle.

You’ve spoken to the recruiter and they’ve invited you to an interview. Over the second hurdle.

Now it’s time to nail your interview prep so you can really shine.

I’ve written this guide to show you 10 of the most common product design interview questions and give you an idea about how you can answer them.

To help you structure your preparation, I’ve divided the questions into four categories: common interview questions, broad product design interview questions, product design process questions, and collaboration questions. 

If you’re just getting started in the field, check out our free 5-day short course in product design.

Use this clickable menu to skip ahead to any section:

  1. Common interview questions
  2. Broad product design questions
  3. Questions about processes
  4. Questions about collaboration

Common interview questions

1. Why do you want to work at [company name]?

This is a fantastic opportunity to show off the research you have done about the company, so take the chance to let your passion and enthusiasm for the role shine through. 

Prepare for this question by finding a few interesting facts about the company, analyzing them on a deeper level, and getting ready to explain your analysis and how they resonate with you. Examples could be a new product they’ve released, or an interesting press interview with their CPO about their product roadmap. 

If you’re not already a user of their product, sign up for it and test it out, noting down your thoughts as you go. (This may not be possible for some products, for example enterprise SaaS software, but you can still watch product walk-throughs on YouTube.)

This is also a chance to show how your specific skills match up to the role in question (and the problem they’re trying to solve with this role). But make sure to cover how you buy into the overall company mission and values.  

2. Tell us about yourself.

Even if it’s not worded exactly like this, it’s very unlikely there won’t be an interview question that doesn’t have broadly the same meaning as this one. Often it’ll be the first question. 

It’s such a common interview question because it’s the easiest way for interviewers to quickly understand your story. They’ll be looking for clues about the kind of person you are, what motivates you professionally, how you see yourself, your goals, and even your communication ability and style. They’ll be assessing how you might fit in the role and the team.

If you’re not a natural at talking about yourself and your achievements, don’t worry—most people aren’t. You do need to be well-prepared for this question. You need to answer it thoroughly, but without seeming overly scripted (this applies to all interview questions).

Make sure to briefly cover:

  • Where you’re from and your educational background.
  • A trimmed down version of your professional history including your current role. There’s no need to go into achievements yet, as that can come off as forced, and you’ll have opportunities to do that later in the interview.
  • What drew you to product design and what you love about the job. Passion goes a long way in interviews, whatever the role is.

3. What are you currently working on?

This question is often one the recruiter on the screening call might ask you, but it could also come up at any of the interview stages. They’re asking this question to see how well-suited and relevant your current role and priorities are to their position. Recruiters will also want to make sure your resume or CV is credible and legitimate.

It might sound easy to answer off the cuff, but don’t fall into that trap. This is a fantastic opportunity to speak articulately and convincingly about how you’re putting your product design skills to use in a serious way, so don’t make it up on the spot. Doing so puts you at risk of giving a vague or waffling answer. 

As a minimum you should cover your highest priority project and its goals, impact, and importance to your company’s strategic goals. Don’t forget to go into the specifics of your responsibilities and tasks, the stakeholders, your successes so far, and your challenges.

If you’re working on multiple projects, pick the two you’re most comfortable talking about and explain them in the same way as above. You can make a judgment call on mentioning other projects, but name-checking them won’t do any harm.    

Before we move onto broad product design interview questions, here are a few other common interview questions that might come up:

  • How would you build up your credibility at this company?
  • What’s your legacy at your current company or last company?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

We don’t have the space to go into details on these, but they’re definitely worth thinking about.

Broad product design interview questions

4. What problem does [company] solve for people?

This question get straight to the heart of two key things the interviewers will want to learn about you:

  • What do you know about their company? This can show them how much research you’ve done and how well you’ve synthesized and understood it.
  • How do you connect the problem that the company is solving to its product design? Good product design is, in many ways, good problem solving. It’s all about deeply understanding the problem(s) your users are facing and then designing and building the right solution for it.

There’s no excuse for not giving a very solid answer to this question.

Do broad and deep research about the company. Look at their marketing material, white papers, and any mission-critical goals they’ve expressed publicly. Get a tight grip on who their customers are (find quotes, testimonials, or even published user research or blogs if you can), the problem they’re solving for them, and wider market trends. 

Dropping in a comparison with a competitor or two might get you bonus points, but keep the main focus on their customer needs and how their product is meeting them. Using specific examples from their product will go a long way here.

5. Describe the project that you had the most trouble with. What would you have done differently? / What’s the hardest project you worked on?

According to candidates on Glassdoor, Google uses this product design interview question to help filter their candidates. And they’re not alone—many companies will have a similar question lined up.

Generally, the interviewers use this question to understand four things:

  • The complexity of projects you’ve worked on
  • How you approached and handled that complexity    
  • How successful you were dealing with that complexity
  • How you’ve learned from the challenges you faced

Spend plenty of time thinking over your work history and picking out some of the most complex projects. Assess them based on how complex they were, how successful you were in finding a solution, and how you grew from the challenges.

Pick one that’s both complex and lets you tell an accurate, compelling story that touches all four of the bullet points above. Don’t feel pressure to tell a perfect story— the product design process is never flawless, and complexity brings another layer of challenges. 

The interviewers aren’t looking for perfection, but rather that you’re not scared of complex projects and will tackle the challenges that come with them in a resilient, collaborative, and emotionally intelligent way. 

6. What are some of the biggest trends in the product design field?

Like many others, this question can take different shapes. You might get asked “What do you think is the most important change happening in product design?” or “Which new tools or ideas are going to change product design the most over the next 5 years?”

No matter the exact wording, the interviewer is trying to see how up to date you are with major trends in the field and your opinions on them.

Ideally, you should already be fairly familiar with the latest trends, but if you haven’t had time to do much reading or listening recently, get prepared to talk about a trend or two that’s related to the role you’re interviewing for.

Lenny’s Podcast is an interesting place to start, as is our blog post The Best Product Design Books To Push You Forward.

Letting your thoughts percolate over a few days might help you come up with new and interesting angles here. 

Prepare an answer that shows off your knowledge, your passion, and your thinking. And remember that relating your answer back to the hiring company’s product design means the answer you’re giving is probably going to help you stand out.

Here are some more product design-related questions that we wouldn’t be surprised to see:

  • What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a product designer?
  • Describe the project you’re most proud of. Why?
  • How would you define yourself as a designer?
  • Walk us through a project you worked on.
  • Walk us through a product design example where you set out to solve a business problem.
  • What are the design tools you use to create and communicate your design ideas?
  • How would you solve this product design problem without a computer?
  • How do you use user research in your product design process?
  • How do you validate your solutions with users?
  • How do you evaluate product usability?

Now let’s take a look at three product design interview questions relating to your process as a designer.

Questions about processes

7. Explain your design process.

This is another question that was mentioned on Glassdoor as part of a product design interview at Google. It’s a very broad question, but it’s crucial that you keep your answer tightly focused on your process and don’t veer off in other directions.

Here, the interviewers will be listening out for a response that clearly and concisely outlines your product design process. Of course, different product designers have different processes depending on their experience, the industry they’re working in, the products they’re working on, and more.

But—whatever the differences—there are several factors that should always be part of your process:

  • A deep understanding of the customer based on user research and data (usability testing, user personas and stories, empathy maps
  • A deep understanding of the business need (and how this dovetails with the user)
  • Human-centered design that balances the need of the user with the business reality 
  • Collaboration and iteration (or collaborative iteration)
  • Clear and measurable goals

Other concepts and methods—some of which could fall under the bullets above—that may be part of your process are things like:

  • Lean UX
  • Competitor research
  • Stakeholder interviews
  • Content audits
  • Minimum viable product (MVP)
  • Information architecture
  • Mood boards and storyboards
  • Use case scenarios and user flows
  • Customer journeys
  • Wireframes, mocks, and prototypes

As you can see, there is a lot to cover here, so it’s important that you prepare a tight, concise, clear answer to this question. Make sure you cover all the key elements of your process in a logical order, but don’t worry about going into detail on every single thing. 

You might be wondering about whether to include an example project to demonstrate your process. You can make a judgment call on this depending on the feel of the interview, but often it won’t be necessary. 

This is because you’ll get a chance to talk about how you applied your process to a specific product design project in another question (or two), and dropping examples in here could make your answer longer and less concise than it needs to be. 

Your portfolio should also show how you used your process with specific product design examples.  

8. How do you measure the success of your design projects?

This is another fairly common question that has been referenced on Glassdoor—a candidate said they were asked it in a product design job interview at the fintech company Wise. 

And it’s not a surprise that companies are asking product designers this, because a project can’t be called successful in any meaningful way unless there’s data to back it up. 

They want to hear which metrics you use to measure the success of your design projects. Your answer will vary a lot according to your experience and industry of course, but could include things like:

  • Conversion rates
  • Task completion rates and times
  • UI tagging
  • Eye-tracking
  • Click-tracking heatmaps
  • Benchmarking and usability testing

For this question it can be a good idea to include one of your design projects as an example. You can demonstrate familiarity with the metrics you’ve used by namechecking them and saying you have experience with them, but picking out a couple you measured on a key project will make it easier to tell a captivating story.

It’s also important to tie metrics back to the project’s initial goals, whether they were in the form of OKRs, KPIs, or another framework. 

And it’s crucial—especially if there’s a product manager, business development rep, or any other person likely to have a knowledge of financial operations—to address financial indicators or goals. 

Understanding and being able to explain how product design and financial indicators are connected is the sign of a seniority in the role. Ultimately failed and bad product design hits companies where it hurts—in the pocket.

Here are a few other questions you may be asked about your product design process:

  • Show us how you worked through the technical aspect of a project.
  • What’s your experience creating HCD (human-centered design)?
  • How do you trigger creativity when you’re stuck?
  • How do you use data to guide your design decisions?

Questions about collaboration

9. How do you work with different departments?

This is another question that can be phrased in a number of ways. You might be asked “how do you approach collaboration?” or “tell us about a time when you collaborated on a product design project.” But the aim is ultimately the same.

The interviewer wants to know how you work with other individuals and teams. 

  • Do you enjoy it? Does it energize you? 
  • How do you give and receive feedback? 
  • How do you deal with the creative conflict that inevitably arises on collaborative design projects?
  • How do you handle challenging colleagues? 
  • How do you speak about your team and other departments? 
  • How do you handle different communication styles? 
  • Are you a natural team player or more of an individual contributor?

This question can be trickier than you’d expect to answer. It’s easy for all of us to think we’re amazing team players and so we can coast through this question—don’t do that.

Instead prepare with one or two specific examples of how you’ve collaborated with other departments on a project. Think about how you build a mutually trusting and respectful relationship. How you overcame challenges. How you brainstormed together and iterated on your designs.

Don’t forget to talk about the shape and structure of what that collaboration looked like. Mention your regular meetings and any workshops and feedback sessions. 

Who was involved? Was it product managers, product owners, developers, marketing, content design, data analysts, or someone from the executive team? 

The interviewers will be looking for product designers who can put their ego to one side and be positive, honest, and encouraging team players. If the role is a senior one or above, they’ll be looking for signs of leadership and a mature approach to conflict management and collaboratively overcoming problems.     

10. If someone above you was pressuring you towards a product design decision you thought didn’t make sense, how would you react?

If you get asked a question along these lines, it’s because the interviewer is trying to get the answers to three questions:

  • How do you manage conflict?
  • How and to what extent do you justify your design decisions?
  • How do you manage up? (And not necessarily just to your line manager.)

It’s likely they’ll be looking for someone who could deal with this situation in a balanced, mature way as opposed to someone who would take it personally and create further conflict.

They’ll also be curious to see if you asked for a second opinion or some support from a trusted colleague or handled it solo. 

And, of course, they want to know how you defended or would defend your design decisions. Did you provide solid, evidence-based justifications? Did you get defensive or were you open to the possibility of being wrong? How did you end the situation?

Show them you’re diplomatic, but not a pushover. Show them you know how to justify your design decisions, but you’re not stubborn or closed to other opinions. Show them that you can resist pressure in a calm, confident way.  

In keeping with the other sections, here are a couple of other questions you might be asked about collaboration in product design:

  • What’s your design process for starting a project?
  • Tell me about when you’ve received critical feedback on your work from colleagues. How did you react?

Final thoughts

Job interviews are daunting for all of us, and some jitters are to be expected whether you’re interviewing for your first product design role or for a principal level position.

It’s also totally fine and expected for you to not have exemplary answers to all of the possible questions you could be asked. Interviewers are used to seeing candidates perform better on some questions than on others.

But being well-prepared with solid answers for some key questions that are likely to come up will let you approach the interview more calmly and confidently. 

The interviewing team will be trying to discover what kind of person you are and how you would fit in both the team and the wider company culture.

So remember to stay positive, enthusiastic, curious, open, and honest—this will go a long way on top of the question preparation and research. 

To dive deeper, check out our guides:

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