EX14 - Interview Prep

Turning One Interview Into Two

Making it to the interview phase is no small feat, but an inability to display grace under fire could result in a short candidacy.

Updated September 28, 2020

The effort poured into a job search isn’t truly measurable. You produce so many artifacts for all those positions — but none of that considers the full toll of a search. With that much effort poured into one thing, wouldn’t it be nice to make progress when someone calls you back?

Entering the interview phase of a job search ratchets up the stakes significantly as you shift your focus from many opportunities to a few possible outcomes. While each organization and each position will have its own bespoke aspects, some high-level practices are shared between companies.

Use the information that follows a series of considerations and options that you should leverage as you prepare for the interview rounds ahead.

Know your audience

All the preparation in the world won’t help you if you are prepping for the wrong audience. During the interview process, various rounds of conversation will be triggered by the same job opportunity, but each conversation’s substance will be different.

Your initial interview will generally be conducted by a recruiter, especially at a larger company. When a recruiter is conducting the interview, they tend to be by phone, and the purpose is to screen you as a candidate. Recruiters want to know why you are applying for the role, whether you know anything about the company and your salary requirements. Your ability to articulate answers to these questions will directly impact whether you move on in the interview process.

Later interviews are handled by team members that you’ll likely interact with or report to. The questions here shift to focus on your problem-solving skills, design process, and technical ability.

In either case, you should have a cheat sheet prepared to utilize phone interviews and to prepare for in-person or extended video sessions.

Know your worth

While it is illegal in some states for employers to ask how much you are currently making, there is no law against them asking how much you expect to make in your next role.

When they ask the question — and they will ask it, you must have an answer ready.

Tools like Payscale, Know Your Worth, and LinkedIn Salary are built around anonymously crowdsourcing salaries. This offers you an opportunity to get a better idea of what designers near you are making. These sites are still figuring out how to deal with the massive influx of remote jobs, but there is value in knowing the range of pay.

Knowing what others are making should push you to ask for more via negotiation, but it also should keep you from being abused by a bottom feeder trying to prey on your insecurities. When you know the minimum salary requirements and someone offers you less, walk away.

Prepare to cross-examine

The questions you ask during an interview matter almost as much as the answers you provide. Asking a question that could easily be answered by visiting the company’s home page shows that you didn’t do your homework. As most modern design roles are directly impacted by research, not doing basic research for an interview could sink any chance you have of landing the job.

Equally important is the timing of your questions. You want to focus on questions that would be appropriate for that stage of the interview process. Asking a benefits question would be perfect for a recruiter, and the same could be said about a research process question of the design team.

Sample questions to ask of a recruiter

  • What is the time frame for filling this job?
  • Does the company have a policy on remote workers?
  • Is this a new or existing position? If existing, how long has the role been open?

Sample questions to ask of a design manager

  • How is success defined for this role, team?
  • What is the biggest challenge facing the team, company?
  • Why did you choose to work at this company?
  • How does the team manage projects (agile/sprints/etc.)?

While it can be tempting to cram as many questions as possible, be respectful of time. Some interviews will run long, and these occasions offer you an opportunity to ask follow-up questions via email.

Following up

After each conversation, stop to write a short thank you note to each of the parties involved. Be sure to include a link to your portfolio and your LinkedIn profile in each note.

Not only is this a nice gesture, but it gives you another opportunity to build a positive connection with people that are part of the hiring process.

Further review

Article Source/Author
The Point of Practice Interviews New Pragmatic
Knowing Your Worth New Pragmatic


While you won’t receive an interview request from every position you apply to, you will break through eventually. When that happens, you want to have that conversation immediately.

To help your preparation for the call that will eventually come, use your job tracker and select a position to utilize as the focus for the following questions.

  • Why are you applying for the role?
  • Why do you want to work for this specific company?
  • What are your salary requirements?

Once complete, update your Program Journal with links to the assets produced for this exercise. Post your Journal in the #Feedback-Loop channel for review.


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