Tech companies are in desperate need of product designers who can help their businesses create new products and elevate the user experience.
As a product manager or designer, you have the skill and expertise to make valuable contributions to the design process. But, you must overcome the biggest hurdle in the hiring process: the interview. This guide will help you navigate the interview process by identifying the most common product design interview questions and answers.
Are you in charge of interviewing product design candidates for your company? This resource also provides insights on how to evaluate your interviewees’ responses.
How do you answer product design questions?
It’s helpful to take a specific approach while answering product design questions that will improve your thought process and help you craft the best response.
Keep these factors in mind when answering questions during a product design interview:
Focus on the users: UX is the highest priority of most businesses. Identify a relevant user segment for the product or scenario you’re describing. Clearly explain how your solution benefits the target audience.
Understand users’ characteristics: Show the interviewer you can get into customers' minds by distinguishing their pain points, interests, and priorities.
Consider multiple solutions: Don’t just jump directly to the solution you think is best. Show the interviewer that you can brainstorm multiple solutions and then weigh their pros and cons to select the best one.
Have a unifying product vision: Demonstrate that your design of or changes to a product still align with an overarching vision and business goals.
Identify potential shortcomings: Prove that you think realistically about product design. Show your ability to anticipate hurdles in the design process or a need for future modifications.
Interview preparation is crucial — especially if this is your first time applying for a product design job.
How do I prepare for a product design interview? You can prepare for your product design job interview by:
researching the company’s products, goals, values, and culture
becoming familiar with the product designer job description
performing a mock interview with a role-played recruiter
asking for feedback from other hiring managers
learning the most common product design interview questions
preparing for a hypothetical whiteboard challenge
Common Product Design Interview Questions
Finding the right person for your product designer job is easier when asking interviewees the right questions.
What are some good questions to ask in a product design interview? Good questions to ask during a product design interview will focus on the applicant’s formal training, technical expertise, industry knowledge, prior projects, and situational competence.
1. What is your background in the product design industry?
How to answer: Give a summary of your professional experience, including any formal training, certifications, time in the industry, prior careers, and major projects/achievements.
What to listen for: This is a standard interview question and can provide you with talking points to dig into later in the conversation.
2. What is your favorite product?
How to answer: Choose a product you use frequently and are excited about — rather than something you think the interviewer wants to hear. Explain its appeal from an everyday user’s standpoint and a design standpoint. Demonstrate you can see a product’s value through its functionality.
What to listen for: The response should show the applicant can comprehend a product’s value to consumers through its design. The applicant should exhibit a passion for the product that reflects their appreciation of a satisfying user experience.
3. What product do you think has major problems?
How to answer: This is similar to the previous question but applied to a product with a disconnect between the design and user experience. Explain why the product is faulty and how you would fix the issues.
What to listen for: Ensure the applicant can problem-solve when inheriting issues. They should be able to find solutions to redesign an existing product.
4. What are your strengths and weaknesses as a product designer?
How to answer: Identify the aspects of product design that come naturally to you and energize you. Hone in on specific skills that other people have recognized in you. Then, identify where you still need to grow and the steps you’re taking to improve. Use specific examples.
What to listen for: The interviewee should be aware of their limitations and shortcomings yet be committed to improving. Be wary of someone who is unaware of their limitations or too constrained by them.
5. What has been the most difficult project you’ve worked on?
How to answer: Describe a design challenge that was plagued by setbacks or hurdles. Be specific about what made it difficult, such as inconsistent user feedback. Use your response to show your ability to overcome obstacles, collaborate with a team, and satisfy stakeholders.
What to listen for: Look for problem-solving skills. Be wary of any indications that the applicant clashes with managers or colleagues, viewing others as obstacles. Also, the applicant shouldn’t be the cause of their design problems or worsen them.
6. How do you determine you’ve gotten a product’s design right?
How to answer: You need to prove that you measure success through user experiences and supporting the product vision. Explain in-depth what tools and metrics you use to analyze user satisfaction and gauge outcomes against user-focused objectives.
What to listen for: A Red flag is that the applicant will create and launch a product without feedback from end-users or adhering to business goals. A lack of usability testing and user feedback can result in poor design decisions.
7. What qualities characterize a strong design team?
How to answer: Emphasize the importance of communication, dependability, cooperative brainstorming, efficient use of time, and constructive feedback on a product design team. Illustrate through a team you’ve been on and how these traits led you to a great product.
What to listen for: The response must prove that the applicant can work with other team members on a collaborative project rather than only autonomously. It also sheds light on the applicant’s soft skills and interpersonal self-awareness.
8. How do you approach new projects?
How to answer: Show that you take a multi-faceted approach to defining a problem thoroughly before taking action.
What to listen for: This can tell you a lot about a designer’s concern for research, road mapping, journey maps, data analysis, and user personas and pain points. Look for evidence of good design thinking.
9. What’s one project from your portfolio that exemplifies your entire approach to product design?
How to answer: Whichever case study you share, ensure it covers the entire product design process. This includes addressing a specific problem, performing competitor and user research, brainstorming, wireframes, prototype development, a/b testing, iteration improvements, and post-launch revisions.
What to listen for: This question can reveal where a candidate excels and where they lack experience in the design process. You’ll learn where the applicant may struggle when creating your products.
10. How have you grown as a designer in the past year?
How to answer: Prove that you have a growth mindset and are always seeking ways to hone your skills, whether on a technical level through ongoing education and certifications or on a conceptual level through experiences and realizations.
What to listen for: Make sure the candidate is actively making strides to pursue professional development opportunities and learning from their experiences.
11. How is designing a digital product different than designing a physical one?
How to answer: Show that digital and physical goods have varying user benefits based on their functionality. Identify the advantages and shortcomings of digital product design and explain cases in which digital products may better suit customers than physical products.
What to listen for: The respondent should see the difference between physical and digital goods in terms of their advantages in meeting certain customer needs. They should also recognize how each form can impact a company’s budget and operations.
12. What is the difference between product design and industrial design?
How to answer: Show that you understand your industry by explaining these differences. In general, industrial design focuses on mass production for wide markets, while product design focuses on creating unique products for specific demographics.
What to listen for: The applicant’s response should reveal their awareness of the intricacies of product design. They should see the design process as multi-faceted and user-focused rather than streamlined, efficient product generation. Quality should matter more than quantity.
13. What’s your view on making tradeoffs between visual design and usability?
How to answer: Make the interviewer aware that you recognize the importance of functionality over visual appeal to end-users. Show that you recognize how important operation is in interaction design over mere appearance.
What to listen for: The applicant should be realistic in understanding the give and take that needs to occur in the UX design process. Designers should strive to make a product that meets customers’ needs — not just looks pretty.
14. What’s the difference between a product owner and a product manager?
How to answer: Prove that you know the difference between these roles based on their responsibilities in conceptualizing, producing, and maintaining a product. Explain how both leaders work together to produce quality goods based on their individual duties.
What to listen for: The respondent should prove that they see clear differences between a product owner vs. product manager and not confuse the roles. It’s very important that designers understand how job titles translate to specific, actionable duties.
15. Where do you see your career going in the next 5 years?
How to answer: Prove that you have a clear sense of how you want to develop your skills and portfolio to achieve target job roles or contracts in the future. Avoid giving the impression that you’re only looking at the short term.
What to listen for: If you’re hiring a freelance designer, their path will extend beyond the temporary period they spend working for your company. Listen to how the applicant plans to use this experience to develop his or her career over the long term.
How MVP Match Can Help
MVP Match is here to help you find product designer jobs that use your design skills. We connect IT professionals with small businesses and startups who need assistance launching new products or completing short-term projects. Apply to join our freelance network today!
Companies seeking to contract skilled project design freelancers should also contact MVP Match. We’ll provide you with top-notch prospects from our pool of candidates.