Commonly asked interview questions in design (and how to answer them…)
Commonly asked interview questions in design (and how to answer them…)

Published by gabriele


Commonly asked interview questions in design (and how to answer them…)

Even the coolest of candidates get nervous before a job interview. While we don’t advise having ready-made responses for every question. We do recommend spending some time preparing for the most commonly asked questions.

If you’re applying for a role in design, it’s very likely that you’ll be asked one or more of the questions we’ve listed below. Count this article as your cheat sheet to acing them and getting a step closer to the role you want.

“What is your definition of a team player?”

There is no wrong way to answer this question, so don’t stress. It’s all about personal preference, and it pays to answer honestly. Your definition of teamwork may be completely different to the interviewing agencies, and if that’s the case, it’s best you find out before you get on board.

The fact they’re asking this question indicates that collaboration is important to their team.

It’s good communication (and a tonne of creativity) that takes a design agency from good to great. Team members must be able to share ideas and opinions freely and regularly, not only in-person but remotely too.

Let the interviewers know how you communicate and collaborate on cross-department projects. What type of remote work structure suits you best and how do you support your team members? The question is broad, which means you have a lot of flexibility in how you answer, so go wild.

“Why should we hire you?”

Most hiring managers ask this question as it’s open-ended and therefore easy to get a feel of your intentions, personality, and depth of knowledge about the agency all in one. Don’t be intimidated and do resist the urge to reply with “because I need money.”

Instead, count yourself lucky! There’s no better setup for you to sell yourself and your skills.

Possible answer:

I know it’s been an exciting time for ABC Studios— I’ve admired your work for a while and have seen how rapidly your output has grown. I have over a decade of experience as a Digital Designer, but more importantly, most of those years were spent working within design teams that were in the exact same boat ABC is in now. I’m used to long workdays and even during busy periods I could still maintain the standard you’ve set for yourselves.”

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Before answering this question, think realistically about where this position could take you and answer along those lines. If you don’t see yourself staying in the role until retirement, that’s fine. The days of “a job for life” have long since ended and you won’t be penalised for saying that this role is a stepping stone to your bigger career aspirations. Most hiring managers will expect and even respect your ambition.

It’s totally OK to say that you’re not quite sure what the future holds, but that you see this experience playing an important role in helping you make that decision.

Possible answer:

“In five years, I’d like to be closer to my career aspirations as a designer. I’ll have grown my technical skills and will know more about the industry overall. If given the opportunity to work within your agency, I’d be well versed in designing different kinds of deliverables—including websites, branding, and ad campaigns— and would feel well-trained, nurtured, and ready to settle on a focus.”

How will you approach your work? What will it be like to work with you? Will you mesh well with the existing team?

Reassure the interviewer that you will be a good fit for the team by focusing on something that’s important to you and aligns with everything you’ve learned about the role, team, and company so far.

Possible answer:

“I tend to do my best work when collaborating closely with other creatives. Feeding off each other’s energy whilst working towards a common goal. I enjoy being inclusive, and love bringing new and different voices into the fold. When I was working at XYZ Agency, I made it a habit to extend invitations to those in different departments to join certain brainstorming and feedback sessions. I think it’s important that everyone is up to date on projects, even if they aren’t directly involved.”

“Why are you leaving your current job?”

This is one question you can be certain you’ll be asked.

When you are, keep things positive —you have nothing to gain by being catty about your current employer. Instead, frame things in a way that shows an eagerness to learn and take on new responsibilities. For example, you may currently have a manager who micro-manages your every move. Instead, say “I’d really love more self-sufficiency and I know I’d have that opportunity here.”

And if you were let go from your most recent job? Keep it short and sweet: “Unfortunately, I was let go,” is a totally acceptable answer.

Possible answer:

“I’m ready for the next challenge in my career. I loved the people I worked with and the projects I worked on, but at some point, I realized I wasn’t being challenged the way I want to be. Rather than let myself get too comfortable, I’ve decided to pursue a position where I can continue to grow.”

What are your salary expectations?

The main rule of answering this question successfully is: to figure out your salary expectations ahead of time and don’t be afraid to voice them. Pre-interview, read through our salary indicator guide to learn the industry average for your role, then settle on a figure which takes into account your experience, education, skills, and personal needs.

You can take 3 routes with your answer:

  • Give a salary range: Keeping the bottom of your stated range toward the mid-to-high point of what you’re actually hoping for.
  • Flip the question: Try something like “That’s a great question—it would be helpful if you could share what the range is for this role.
  • Delay answering: Tell the interviewer that you’d like to learn more about the role or the rest of the compensation package before discussing pay.

Any route is better than blurting out a figure you’ll later  regret.

“Can you explain why you changed career paths?”

If and when this question is asked, it’s unlikely that the interviewer is coming from a place of judgement, they likely just want to understand your journey a bit better. So, take a deep breath and answer truthfully and positively. Explain why you’ve made the career decisions you have. More importantly, give a few examples of how your experience is transferable to the new role.

Possible answer:

“For the last 10 years of my career, I’ve worked in marketing for various creative brand agencies. I’ve really honed my skills when it comes to time and people management. However, I’ve been looking for a role in Account Management to use these skills to really drive the business forward. And I’m highly motivated to do that with your agency.”

“What would your colleagues say was your key ‘superpower’?”

A cooler way of asking where your strengths lie. This is your chance to talk about something that makes you great — and more importantly, a great fit for the role. Think quality, not quantity. In other words, don’t rattle off a list of generic adjectives. Instead, pick one or two specific qualities that are relevant to the position and illustrate them with solid examples. Be sure to include some figures to back up your statements, as they’re always more memorable than generalizations.

if there’s something unique about yourself that you believe makes you a great candidate, this would be the perfect time to mention it.

“Focus on your core strengths – which ones would you use to really enhance you in this role?”

The key is to keep your answer relevant to the role you’re applying to. So, the fact that you can make a mean Martini or learn a TikTok dance in under 10 minutes is fab, but probably not worth mentioning on this occasion. Instead, use this opportunity to tell them something that would give you an edge over your competition for this position.

Telling a story will always make your answer more memorable.

Possible Answer:

“I naturally take on the ‘supportive sister’ role in every team I work within. I’m quite empathetic so if there’s an issue or it’s a particularly stressful day I’m always ready to provide motivation and a listening ear. That’s why this Studio Manager position is perfect for me.”

“Are there areas in your own communication that you could improve, and how would you do that as part of a team?”

Karina Beasley, Gabriele’s MD likes to ask candidates this question and many design agencies use it figure out how forthcoming you are to criticism, your level of emotional intelligence and whether your style of collaboration will suit the hiring agencies.

Your answer to this will display your level of self-awareness, and emotional intelligence.

Again, honesty is the best policy when it comes to answering. Start by recognising that you’re far from perfect, but willing to improve. Then give examples of how your communication skills have grown throughout your career, and how you plan to take cues from their team in order to find a comfortable middle ground for all.

“Is there anything else you think we should know?”

Just when you thought you were done, your interviewer asks you this open-ended doozy.

Don’t panic—it’s not a trick question! You can use this as an opportunity to close out the meeting on a high note in one of two ways. First, if there really is something relevant that you haven’t had a chance to mention or ask your interviewer, do it now. Otherwise, you can briefly summarize why you’re the best candidate for the job. For example, you could say: “I think we’ve covered most of it, but just to summarize, it sounds like you’re looking for someone who can really hit the ground running. And with my previous experience [enter relevant experience here], I think I’d be a great fit.”

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