Interviewing for my first UI/UX job this friday. What can I expect?

over 5 years ago from , Intern

Hi all,

I'm a college student about to interview for a UI/UX internship this Friday. I have no idea what to expect from the interviews-- does anyone have any advice? Or knowledge about the general interview process for a UI/UX job?

Thanks :)


  • Harper Lieblich, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    Hi Doug, Congrats on your first interview.

    There are a few key things I'm looking for when I interview candidates for a junior position.

    • Enthusiasm & Initiative

    Motivated people are super refreshing to work with, and on my team the people who bring enthusiasm, no matter how tough or boring a project is, get rewarded in the long run. You can communicate this with things as subtle as maintaining good eye contact and speaking clearly. But you should also have an example or two in your portfolio of a time when you put in extra effort on a project even though it was a slog.

    • Curiosity

    Coworkers who give up when a problem appears confusing or opaque are a real drag. I'm looking for someone who's sense of curiosity is only increased by difficult challenges. Make sure your portfolio has an example where you spent extra time exploring a topic in order to make the project that much better.

    • Humility

    Young hotshots who think they know everything are awfully hard to teach. A good boss will invest a lot of time training a junior new-hire before they can be considered an asset to the team, but training someone who's full of themselves is a pain. Make sure you have an example in your portfolio of a time when you're initial hypothesis was proven wrong. Talk about how you responded to that setback; did you refuse to acknowledge the evidence? did you get bent out of shape? or did you correct your mistake and fix it.

    • Attention to Detail

    Having to constantly call attention to the missing details in an employee's work gets old fast. Double check your portfolio and make sure things like alignment and spelling are all ship-shape.

    Everything else can be taught on the job. Remember, you're not getting hired to be a fully formed rockstar designer. If that's what I wanted I'd be hiring a senior designer with 10+ years under their belt.

    Think about the work environment you want to work in and ask questions to make sure the gig is a good fit. Is there a strong culture of employee training or is it sink-or-swim? Do people have fun together outside of work hours or does everyone just go their separate ways? Are you going to get the opportunity to work closely with other teams like engineering and customer-care, or will you be expected crank out work in a silo?

    Finally, don't be afraid to tell your interviewer that this is your first interview and maybe you're a little nervous. Talented senior UX/UI designers get headhunted multiple times a week, so it's easy for them to forget what it was like to be nervous in an interview.

    Good luck and god speed.

    11 points
    • Doug GandleDoug Gandle, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

      Thank you so much Harper! This is all super helpful. These are all values that I hold dear and try to embrace, but I think my portfolio is quite lacking-- to be completely honest, I don't have an official "portfolio" anywhere, just a variety of projects I've worked on for fun outside of class/work (I'm a computer science student, never touched design in class).

      I'll be putting together some kind of collection of my work, but I'm not sure how to present it. Without a website, what exactly do I "give" to employers to showcase my work? Should I come with physical prints of my designs? Or can I just bring my laptop and showcase the files there?

      Thanks again :)

      0 points
    • Anton StenAnton Sten, over 5 years ago

      Even though I would consider myself a 'senior UX designer' I really enjoyed your reply Harper and found it inspiring. Great stuff!

      0 points
    • Eric Foster, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

      Great list! To OP, I would say keep these characteristics always, and you'll never find yourself hurting for work. Oh, and also, good luck!

      1 point
  • Philip WeberPhilip Weber, over 5 years ago
    • You'll probably be asked about how you've changed your design based on user testing and feedback. Being a college student, you may or may not have been exposed to that, so it would be good to have some kind of answer in mind.
    • Just a heads up. Calling it "UI/UX" is a trigger for lots of people in the industry. You'll score point with those people if you know how they're different. You'd score points with me if you didn't care to talk much about "UI" vs "UX", should designers code, and what our job titles should be ;)

    Good luck!

    4 points
    • Doug GandleDoug Gandle, over 5 years ago

      Good to know! The job title was "UI/UX/Front-End Design," but I'll definitely be careful with my words during the interview ;)


      0 points
  • Zaw Min TinZaw Min Tin, over 5 years ago

    Just be honest. Don't worry! they already known you are a student. Good Luck!

    3 points
  • Eric H.Eric H., over 5 years ago

    More than anything, have a very good understanding of the site/product/whatever before you walk in the door. I can't tell you how many folks we've phone screened who had never even taken the time to open their laptops and look us up before sending us their resumes! Total waste of everyone's time. In addition to the great advice already given, have a good reason why Company X is for you, at least from your perspective as an outsider. Lastly, if you are comfortable in your own skin, you'll be fine. Good luck!

    2 points
    • Doug GandleDoug Gandle, over 5 years ago

      Hmm... that's a good point, the position I'm applying for is at a startup within a much larger company-- I don't really know the name of the project or what I'll be working on, since the main company is huge and multi-faceted. Is this something appropriate to ask in an email beforehand?

      0 points
      • Eric H.Eric H., over 5 years ago

        Did they make you sign an NDA (yet)? If the answer is yes, you should be free to ask whatever you want. If the answer is no, then they won't ask you questions about their secret project, obviously. It wouldn't hurt to be familiar with the parent company, however, but perhaps not as much as I stressed before. Different use case.

        0 points
  • Joe VillanuevaJoe Villanueva, over 5 years ago

    As others have mentioned, be prepared to explain your process (both mentally and technically), to walk through some past work (even if only student work) and to go through some whiteboard examples.

    If you're asked for suggestions, be tactful/measured in your response - they may have already addressed your suggestions in the past.

    I know it sounds cliche, but know your strengths and weaknesses - what you can contribute to the team, but also where you'd like to learn.

    Last, while there is always the don't-hire-an-asshole rule, you don't need to be employed by one either, so try to figure that out in your interview. Don't start your bright and shiny career with a begrudging experience - who knows where that will take you.

    Either way, good luck!

    1 point
    • Doug GandleDoug Gandle, over 5 years ago

      Thank you! I feel pretty confident explaining my work and the decisions I make when designing. This might be a total newbie-question, but what are whiteboard examples?

      Thanks :)

      0 points
  • Brian PelayoBrian Pelayo, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

    Be prepared to talk about your work. Interviewers are interested in seeing how your brain works—process is important to them. Make sure to know for each project that you're presenting the problems you faced and how you solved them.

    If you have real world sites, make sure they're actually up because the interviewer might pull them up on an ipad/laptop. I can guarantee that they'll probably ask you what your favorite sites/apps are. Have a short list prepared and the reasons why you like them.

    1 point
    • Doug GandleDoug Gandle, over 5 years ago

      Oh I didn't even think about that, what sites/apps I like. I'll start compiling a list!

      Thanks :D

      0 points
  • Tristam GochTristam Goch, over 5 years ago

    Congrats on the interview. Has someone taught you the secret handshake yet?

    1 point
  • Aaron CalzadoAaron Calzado, over 5 years ago
    • Whiteboard exercises
    • Have questions prepared
    • Talk about how you can add value to the company
    1 point
    • Doug Gandle, over 5 years ago

      This might be a total newbie question, but what are whiteboard exercises? Another commenter mentioned them as well, so I assume they're common...


      0 points
      • Rick LanceeRick Lancee, over 5 years ago (edited over 5 years ago )

        Basically they present you with a design problem and you solve it on a whiteboard, something like that.

        0 points