Companies always need quality designers and developers, moreso now than ever before. But it takes more than just skill to land a job. You need to fit the company culture, offer unique value, and maybe even have some connections in the field.
I can’t help with everything but I can help with the crucial interview process. Employers ask questions to learn about you and your skillset, so the way you answer these questions will prove imperative to your success.
This guide will help both designers and developers prepare for top interview questions when applying for tech jobs. This post isn’t exactly about specific questions, but more about how to think to be prepared for any question.
Preparing For Interviews
Before even considering the questions you’ll first want to brush up on a few things. First is your field of study. Think about what you may be expected to do on the job and consider of any of those tasks may be a challenge.
Re-read the job application to see if anything jumps out.
Another good idea is to research the company. Learn how the company functions, learn about their history and the current team. Interest in the employer can go a long way.
Also remember that interviews are mostly based on spoken word. You may be asked to solve problems or to think through ideas, but most of your answers are expected to be provided through language.
If you’re not someone who excels at speaking ideas out loud this may be worth practicing. Even 10-15 minutes is better than nothing and it’ll get you familiar with the interview atmosphere.
UI/UX Designer Questions
Every job in the visual art/design field requires a strong portfolio. This is perhaps just as important as the interview so be prepared to show your work.
For UX design it’s great if you can show progress too. Think of doing case studies with resources like sketches and wireframes to demonstrate your thought process.
By showing work and answering questions about your work interviewers are looking to see if you can think creatively.
Other more general questions may relate to software experience, how you got into design, and your typical design process from start-to-finish. These topics should all be expected to some degree or another.
The questions that few designers expect are the hypothetical design problems. Depending on the employer you may be asked to solve a certain design problem for a made-up project like a website owner or a UX bug in a mobile app.
These questions don’t always have one right answer. They’re meant to gauge how you solve problems and how you might interact with clients or a project manager during a design briefing.
Be prepared to verbally explain how you solve problems and how you typically get work done.
This advice is fantastic and incorporates how to think about questions, rather than specific questions themselves.
But since this article is focused on interview questions, here are some to keep in mind:
- What do you want to accomplish with digital design?
- What was your favorite project to work on?
- Tell me about a time you failed and what you learned
- Tell me your typical solution to [insert UI/UX problem]
- How do you balance user goals with corporate goals?
- How do you solve problems for users with visual or hearing disabilities?
- What sort of questions do you ask clients/project managers for a design briefing?
Frontend/Backend Developer Questions
Dev jobs typically place less importance on the portfolio. But in recent years a dev portfolio has become a great way to demonstrate skills. GitHub repos and personal projects are all valid in a frontend or backend portfolio.
Project work samples demonstrate your experience in various languages, libraries, CMS engines, and version control systems(among other technologies).
Depending on the job requirements you may be questioned about toolset, code editor, and specific development tools in your workflow. Similarly the interviewer may want to know your level of comfort with modern APIs and libraries like NodeJS or jQuery.
These aren’t really questions you can prepare for, other than answering honestly. But if there’s a particular concept you don’t understand it may be worthwhile to do a bit of cramming.
But please note the goal isn’t to know everything. Nobody knows everything. Developers with 20+ years experience still hit Google to find solutions they don’t know.
The best answer to something you don’t know is “I don’t know, but I’m always willing to learn”.
Also consider the possibility of a coding test meant to gauge your skills. Some are take-home while others can be done onsite. These are made to test your prerequisite knowledge of fundamentals to ensure you can do the job.
Regarding specific dev interview questions there are simply too many to list. Thankfully GitHub users have collated backend dev questions and frontend dev questions for free on GitHub repos. The lists are organized by category and although they’re quite long, they’re sure to help you prepare for any interview.
Here’s a very small sample of questions to consider:
- What makes good code good?
- What’s the difference between TCP and HTTP?
- Which principles would you apply to define the size of a cache?
- What is the difference between design and architecture?
- How often do you work on your own dev projects?
- What excites or interests you the most about development?
- What is a recent technical challenge you experienced and how did you solve it?
Aside from technical questions be ready to answer specifics about yourself as a person. This may seem like the easy part, and it is if you’re honest. But the way you phrase answers can offer clues into your personality.
Be ready to answer questions about your interests outside of work. Interviewers want to know your hobbies, avocations, family life and/or social life. Be willing to answer honestly because nobody wants to associate with a liar.
Other common personal questions may relate to your interest in design/development. When did you get started? How often do you build your own projects? Do you love to learn new things? Are you truly passionate about your work?
It may seem like these questions have obvious answers but you should never feed the interviewer something you think they want to hear.
Be honest, upfront, and dialogue more like a casual conversation. If you treat each question like a chat over coffee you’ll appear much less nervous(even if you are) and the interviewer will be drawn more into the discussion as well.
Lots of designers and developers catalog the questions they’ve faced. These can be viewed for free online but they’re not foolproof.
You’ll want to spend time thinking about how to present yourself as a real person. Companies hire people not robots and they want to know you’re a great person to work with.
But for you Curious George’s out there I’ve compiled some resources listing interview questions for both designers and developers.