Ten and a Half Questions to Interview Graphic Designers

You are standing on the surface of the earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you? Asking this interview question is one of the many ways Elon Musk evaluates his interviewees. 

Surprisingly, he does not mind the wrong answer. Mostly, he looks for answers that are out of the box and assess the critical thinking of the interviewee (based on the answer). 

In a media interview, Elon shares that there was a time when SpaceX was open to most candidates for interviews. One of the greatest CEOs of all time, Elon highlights his opinion that a resume is not enough to know a candidate; it is an interview that says it all. Nonetheless, interviewing can get tricky. 

The Art of Running an Effective Interview to Hire Best Graphic Designers 

Most recruiters and hiring managers are qualified and trained to shape the interview according to the candidate in question. 

For perspective, I once gave an interview and made a friend named Clark. While I do not have extraordinary qualifications, I have solid hands-on experience in animation design. Clark, on the other hand, had 3 design degrees and was new in the industry. 

We got to talking after our interviews and realized that we both were asked very different questions. 

Understandably, this might seem like the right way to evaluate each candidate based on their different career journeys. However, this leaves room for a hiring manager to feel unintended biases based on how well they got along with each candidate. 

Not that it is wrong; in fact, it is important to have a good equation with your team and prospective candidates, but not at the cost of other evaluation factors (such as knowledge, experience, technical skills, and so on). 

The key to conducting an effective interview that helps you understand the candidates at best is a structured interview. It is a method where you as a hiring manager ask pre-determined questions in a set order to all the candidates. These candidates are then evaluated by your team or your interview panel based on standard scoring criteria. 

Now, let us talk about the questions, expectations concerning answers, and the order of these interview questions for graphic designers. 

Questions to Ask Graphic Designers During an Interview

Setting the best team for your company and helping them to reach their fullest potential are the two things that can make or break your brand. 

Be that as it may, we cannot ignore the fact that there are times when you hire somebody based on their resume, skills, experience, and all the specific factors but it does not work out in the long run; sometimes some candidates and brands just do not fit each other. 

This makes it important for hiring managers to first understand their company and its priorities, then evaluate if that fits with the candidates besides their skills and experiences; the importance of doing it right increases when you are hiring graphic designers as they are responsible for all visual communication between brand and its clients, vendors, stakeholders, competitors, etc. 

For perspective, if your company has a training program in place but the work culture there does not include micromanaging, then you might want to hire a candidate who has a great sense of accountability instead of giving all importance to your candidates’ hands-on experience (as company’s training program covers it anyway). 

Based on your company’s priorities, you can categorize interview questions which will help you get a clear idea of your company’s future with the interviewees in question. 

To help you get started, here are some best questions to interview graphic designers, and a hint of which answers signify what about the candidates. While these questions are formed considering a structured interview and all questions are in order, changing the order of questions based on your brand’s priorities will definitely help. 

Interview Questions to Understand a Candidate’s Knowledge and Working Style as a Graphic Designer

1. You enter an elevator with your dream client and they discuss graphic design trends with you. What would you talk about?

Instead of simply asking ‘do you know graphic design trends,’ the answer to this question will help you evaluate a candidate’s knowledge of the graphic design industry and also their opinions on current trends. 

Also, this answer would tell you how interviewee graphic designer engages with their clients and will give you an idea of their communication skills. 

Expectation: what to look for in the answer

A great answer will show that a candidate is up to date with current happenings in the graphic design industry. Here, a candidate’s body language and the answer will tell you if they are open to hearing others’ opinions if they are closely rigid or positively confident in their opinions, and most importantly, a good answer is one where a candidate talks about how they implied a current graphic design trend in their work. 

2. What part of graphic designing is something that you would be happy to do every single day for the rest of your career, even if we have capable technology or AI for it?

Around 66% of employees would quit their jobs if they felt unappreciated. As a hiring manager, you probably work towards reducing employee turnover. 

The answer to this question will not only help you ensure your potential employee’s stability at your company, but it will also help you understand where a candidate’s strengths lie in terms of their work. 

Expectation: what to look for in the answer

Here, the answer is more about you, as a hiring manager, learning about a candidate. However, there are a few things you could look for in a good answer. For instance, evaluate if the answer aligns with the type of work on which your brand focuses. Besides that, technology is becoming a significant part of graphic design; this answer will tell you if a candidate is well-versed with futuristic technical aspects of designing. 

3. Tell me about your creative process. How do you collaborate with copywriters and developers involved in the final hand-off process?

This is one of the classic interview questions that graphic designers come across in most interviews. It is important as this question specifically focuses on a candidate’s ability to carry out the designing process with the knowledge they have gained throughout their career. 

Also, this question is a space where you and a candidate can discuss the degree of creative authority a candidate can expect from your end (and needs from their end). 

Expectation: what to look for in the answer

As a creative professional, every designer has a different design process. A well-structured response to this question will give you a glimpse into the practical application of their skills. Besides, a good answer will include examples of previous work experience which reflect a candidate’s team spirit and collaborative skills with their previous team. This is a perfect opportunity for you to assess a candidate’s portfolio as well. 

Interview Questions to Evaluate a Candidate’s Understanding of The Role and Your Company

4. Pitch one of your designs to me for our company or a design that will be perfect for one of our clients. 

This question seems vague from the outside but it very specifically focuses on a candidate’s knowledge of your current clients and your company. It is a challenging yet wide space for a candidate to express their research skills and interest in your company. 

As a candidate decides which design to pitch, you will get a fair understanding of their viewpoint considering your company. It is also important to know if a candidate has worked in the same industry previously, which you can evaluate through the design they pitch. 

Expectation: what to look for in the answer

A good answer to this question is certainly subjective. For perspective, if your company provides co-living services to your target customers, then your visual communication should be very clear (as there are growing competitors) and provoke aspects such as comfort and safety. In this case, you might want to look for a design that represents similar aspects of co-living. If a candidate does not have a design, a potentially great candidate could ask you for some time to design a rough draft of a design for your company or clients. 

5. What is one thing about the role that could be a struggle for you?

As a hiring manager, you want to know if a candidate is thorough with the details regarding this role; on the other hand, a candidate might be concerned about falling short and not meeting the expectations. 

This question is a unique approach to asking about a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. To top it off, it is very specific role-focused. 

Expectation: what to look for in the answer

You are looking for specific concerns here; a candidate might have trouble meeting tight deadlines, a tough time balancing the company’s needs and personal design preferences, or it could be something generic such as office hours or pay. It is a bit of a trick question, though you are asking for a challenge, you might want to look for answers which include an authentic struggle at the role but also how a candidate has been working on resolving this specific challenge. 

6. Which competitor of this company do you admire the most, and what could we do to be better than that competitor? 

It is a deeper question than the generic ‘what do you know about our company.’ With this question, you will be able to evaluate a candidate’s research on your company and their preparation for such questions; it is important to know not only how knowledgeable a candidate is about your company but also how they would respond when put under a spotlight. 

This question will also help you understand if a candidate is open to opportunities where they can go out of the box to bring something to the table. 

Expectation: what to look for in the answer

Graphic designers are problem solvers. One of the major parts of being a designer is to improve a post, an environment, a website, and an entire company. A good answer to this question will highlight not only a candidate’s research skills (research about your company and your competitor) but also their capabilities to bring change to the company. An excellent answer might also include a relevant case study, example, or step-by-step implication of a candidate’s answer. 

7. What do you think would be a significant difference between working at our company and your previous work experience?

This is an unconventionally combined way of asking questions such as ‘why do you want to work here,’ ‘why are you quitting your current job,’ ‘what do you like/dislike about us,’ and ‘how does your future look like here.’

The answer to this question will give you a clearer understanding of a candidate’s work preferences and history.

Expectation: what to look for in the answer

This question is a learning opportunity for a candidate as well as the interview panel. The “difference” here might not be something role-centric, it could be something trivial or significant; nonetheless, it is important enough for a candidate to go through the struggles of finding a new opportunity. A good answer will give you specifics about a candidate’s experience with other companies and what stands out to them about your company; some excellent answers might also include how this is a reason that a candidate looks for a long future at your company. 

Interview Questions to Assess a Candidate’s Quick Thinking and Creativity

8. How would you solve a client’s problem on Mars?

Asked by Amazon, this question is a creative addition to ‘how do you solve problems.’ Asking this question will help you uncover quite interesting details about a candidate: if they can take criticism, how they handle problems, if they take accountability for their mistakes, etc. 

Also, as the situation in the question is taking place on Mars, a candidate might not be prepared for this question. Its answer will tell you if they are quick on their feet. 

Expectation: what to look for in the answer

Creative professionals face quite some challenges and most of them are not very specific or repeated. Instead, graphic designers face bizarre problems from time to time. The answer to this question can be a basis for understanding a candidate’s problem-solving skills, creative solutions, and analytical skills.

For instance, a good answer looks something like this: “While Mars is the second closest option for humans to live a life, we do not know all the struggles we would face there. Firstly, I would understand the cause and effect relationship there, and then come up with an action plan to solve the problem.” This answer shows that a candidate’s analytical skills are strong, and they do not shy away from asking questions to have a clear understanding of the matter. 

9. How would you design an alarm clock for the visually impaired?

Answers to questions such as this will show how comfortable a candidate is with challenges that they might face in unforeseen situations in the future. Each candidate will most likely have a different answer to his question, which could seem unfair to evaluate. 

Thus, it is important to understand that the motive behind asking this question is if a candidate has matching approaches and creative juice that fits the role. 

Expectation: what to look for in the answer

There is no one right answer to this question, but there are a lot of wrong answers. If a candidate simply says “it is not possible,” or “why wouldn’t they use a smartphone” then it shows that they want to either stick to conventional graphic design or have a tough time coming up with creative solutions. On the other hand, if they tell you that they will use tactile material and talk to the target audience to understand how to reduce barriers, that is an answer that tells that a candidate is confident in their judgment but also open to finding out the root problems and designing the best solution. 

10. How would you pick a gift for your colleague?

As this question is about a situation taking place after a candidate is hired, this question can be perceived as subtext saying that the interview is going well. Therefore, I suggest using it wisely. An alternative to this question can also be ‘how would you pick a gift for your ex-classmate or distant family member.’ 

Nonetheless, asking this question will give you an idea of a candidate’s personality outside of work (which, when hidden, can cause problems in the long run). Also, an answer to this question will reflect a candidate’s ways of coming up with solutions when they do not have all the information handed over to them.

Expectation: what to look for in the answer

It is likely that this question will help a candidate loosen up a bit. Thus, a good answer to this question should reflect a candidate’s honest and creative thinking. If a candidate says that they would ask the concerned colleague about their liking, then probably there is room for improvement in the creative space. On the contrary, if a candidate says they will get something based on the position of the colleague or asks about their true interests and get something meaningful, that shows they have prompt yet effective decision-making skills. 

10+½. Do you have any questions for us?

Yes, this question is as old as the concept of an effective job interview; but it is considered a very one-way question and is not given enough importance. When, in fact, an answer to this question will tell you about the priorities of a candidate. 

It is best to give a brief about your work style and company before asking this question. The questions that a candidate will come up with will reveal their attention skills and quick thinking. 

Expectation: what to look for in the answer

A good answer to this question cannot be limited as it depends on the equation between a candidate and interviewer. However, the way a candidate carries themselves while asking questions will help a lot in deciding if they are a good fit. For instance, if a candidate is sounding very nervous or very entitled, then you might want to look for other candidates. On the other hand, if a candidate is confident yet polite and has well-thought and relevant questions, then it is a fair chance that they have an excellent way of dealing with clients as well. 

Conclusion

The US Department of Labor said that the cost of hiring the wrong person for any role is 30%. That is a mistake we do not want to make, especially when hiring graphic designers; here is why: 

Ultimately, selecting the right graphic designer is not only about getting visuals made for your target customers or creative client communication, but it is deeply about how people see your brand.

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