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Product Designer interview questions and answers

This Product Designer interview questions profile brings together a snapshot of what to look for in candidates with a balanced sample of suitable interview questions. It focuses primarily on digital product design but many of the non-technical questions could equally well apply to a physical product designer interview. Similar job titles include UX Designer.

product designer interview questions

10 good product designer interview questions

  1. Talk to us about your studies; tell us about an aspect of your course that you found the most engaging.
  2. What’s your current occupation/What are you currently working on?
  3. Take us through a couple of your favorite pieces in your portfolio.
  4. To what extent do you “own” the work in your portfolio?
  5. How do you prototype your ideas?
  6. Tell us how you put yourself in the mind of the user.
  7. Tell us about a project that didn’t go as planned.
  8. Do you have a side project you’d like to talk to us about?
  9. What is your preferred development environment?
  10. Can you describe the difference between progressive enhancement and graceful degradation?

Here are 10 essential interview questions and sample answers to help identify the best candidates for this role.

Talk to us about your studies; tell us about an aspect of your course that you found the most engaging.

This question aims to understand the candidate’s educational background and what aspects of design education they found most engaging.

Sample answer:

“I majored in Graphic Design and particularly enjoyed the course on User Experience Design. It opened my eyes to the importance of designing with the user in mind.”

What’s your current occupation/What are you currently working on?

This question seeks to understand the candidate’s current role or projects, providing insight into their practical experience.

Sample answer:

“I’m currently a Product Designer at XYZ Corp, working on improving the user interface for our main product.”

Take us through a couple of your favorite pieces in your portfolio.

This question aims to delve into the candidate’s past work, their design process, and the rationale behind their design decisions.

Sample answer:

“One of my favorite projects was redesigning a mobile app for a healthcare provider. I focused on simplifying the user journey and making the interface more intuitive.”

To what extent do you “own” the work in your portfolio?

This question assesses the candidate’s contribution to the projects they have worked on.

Sample answer:

“I was the lead designer for most projects in my portfolio. I was responsible for everything from initial research to the final design.”

How do you prototype your ideas?

This question evaluates the candidate’s familiarity with prototyping tools and their approach to testing design ideas.

Sample answer:

“I usually start with paper sketches, then move to digital wireframes using tools like Figma. I iterate based on user feedback.”

Tell us how you put yourself in the mind of the user.

This question aims to understand the candidate’s approach to user-centric design.

Sample answer:

“I start by conducting user interviews and surveys. I also create personas to better understand the needs and pain points of the target audience.”

Tell us about a project that didn’t go as planned.

This question assesses the candidate’s problem-solving skills and how they handle challenges.

Sample answer:

“I was working on a project that had shifting requirements. It was challenging, but we adapted by prioritizing features and maintaining open communication.”

Do you have a side project you’d like to talk to us about?

This question provides insight into the candidate’s interests and passion projects outside of work.

Sample answer:

“I’m currently working on a personal project to design an app that helps people find local volunteering opportunities.”

What is your preferred development environment?

This question gauges the candidate’s technical preferences and adaptability.

Sample answer:

“I prefer working on a Mac OS environment, using VS Code as my text editor and Git for version control.”

Can you describe the difference between progressive enhancement and graceful degradation?

This question tests the candidate’s understanding of key design principles.

Sample answer:

“Progressive enhancement starts with a basic, functional website and adds features for more advanced browsers. Graceful degradation starts with a full-featured site and ensures it still works on older browsers.”

What does a good product designer candidate look like?

A strong Product Designer candidate should have a balanced mix of technical skills, creative thinking, and a user-centric approach. They should be proficient in design tools and be able to articulate their design process clearly.

Red flags

Be cautious of candidates who lack a coherent design process, have poor communication skills, or show a lack of enthusiasm for user-centric design.

Let’s summarize some of the questions and add a few more divided into specific types.



Product Designer Interview Questions

Methods for evaluating a designer might seem obvious. You just take a look at the work they’ve produced. Certainly a thorough review of their portfolio is the best starting point.

Setting them an assignment is equally important. Assuming that both of these are positive, the next step is to chat to them about design itself.

  • Who are their role models?
  • Where do they go for inspiration?
  • How do they keep on top of current design trends?
  • What’s an example of great design (digital or physical)?
  • What books/exhibitions/conferences or communities do they attend or admire?
  • As a designer, what do they think is the most important aspect of their job?

What you’re looking for is an interest in design that stretches beyond the boundaries of their own specialisms. Are they aware of and capable of thinking critically about the design decisions that surround all of us in our everyday lives? A great designer is thinking about improvements to these details.

Related: How to hire designers

Operational and Situational questions

The assignment

There are two main approaches to choose from.

One is a specific assignment, such as the creation of a user journey or an approach to address a specific user need.

The other approach is often referred to as ideation, in which the candidate is presented with a very general problem with little or no detail. They are then asked to generate as many ideas as possible. The next step is to design a possible solution based on this thinking. The indicators you are looking for are:

  • Is your candidate fluent enough in ideas to fill up a whiteboard?
  • Can they identify their own best ideas?
  • Can they respond creatively to constraints and explore ideas that move beyond the obvious.

Operational questions

Portfolio review

  • Talk to us about your studies; tell us about an aspect of your course that you found the most engaging.
  • What’s your current occupation/What are you currently working on?
  • Take us through a couple of your favorite pieces in your portfolio. What was your design process for these pieces? What problems were you trying to solve? How did you make a certain design decision?
  • To what extent do you “own” the work in your portfolio, and can you be specific about which aspects?
  • How do you prototype your ideas? How do you know when you’ve got it right?
  • Tell us how you put yourself in the mind of the user. What kind of research methods do you use when you’re starting a new project.
  • Tell us about a project that didn’t go as planned and the reasons that led to it. How did you solve the problems that arose?
  • Do you have a side project you’d like to talk to us about?

Role-specific questions

Technical Questions

What is your preferred development environment? (operating system, text editor, version control, preproccessors)

  • Let’s say you start a new project right now – which solution will you choose for adding icons to the interface?
  • Can you describe the difference between progressive enhancement and graceful degradation?
  • What existing CSS/Sass frameworks have you used locally, or in production?
  • Are you familiar with BEM or SMACSS? What do you like/don’t like about these conventions?

  • How do you optimize a website’s assets & reduce page load time?

More resources:

Pro tip: Always include an assignment as part of the hiring process. Here are some additional questions to go through with the candidate once they have submitted an assignment:

• Talk through your design process and some of your decisions.

• What would you do differently if you had more time?

• What would you do differently if you were under a strict deadline and you couldn’t meet the project scope? Which features would you prioritize?

Frequently asked questions

Ready to fine-tune this interview kit?
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