Hiring a Product Designer: The Interview Process from the Perspective of a Startup Founder

This article will help starup owners find the perfect product designer by asking the correct product design interview questions. Read on to learn more!

Hiring a Product Designer: The Interview Process from the Perspective of a Startup Founder cover

Startup founders must understand that product design is essential for their business. Hiring the perfect candidate is a matter of asking the right product design interview questions. Additionally, these questions help them gauge their candidate's knowledge and experience.

Product design is the first thing a customer will see. This is why selecting the best candidate for the role is critical. Furthermore, product designers have helped a lot of companies get through their rough times. A designer can also help you with rebranding if needed.

What is a Product Designer?

A Product Designer is a creative person who breathes life into an idea. Their goal is to create products that people will love. Product designers collaborate with startup founders to develop concepts in line with their business goals.

A product designer at work.
Product Designer – Photographer: Faizur Rehman

They are also responsible for creating wireframes, mockups, and user flows. Product designers create the brand's identity. In addition, they also craft design assets for the engineering and marketing team.

Product Designers are crucial to the success of a startup. These designers assure the quality, visuals, and feel of a brand. They also make sure that the design is consistent and well-represented. A good designer can bring your vision to life.

As an interviewer, you should base your product design interview questions on what you are looking for in a candidate.

What is their role?

Product Designers primarily work with startup founders and engineers. However, they also work closely with the marketing and sales team. Additionally, they also often work with team managers.

A product designer uses research and creative thinking to resolve a design issue. These creative people also think out of the box to look for more than one way to solve a problem.

If you can properly define the problem, then you’ve already defined the solution as well. – Chip Kidd

Product Designers produce a lot of design work that needs to be featured on startup's marketing material. Unfortunately, they don't get enough credits from startup founders. It is vital to recognize the efforts a Product Designer has put into building a product design and attracting audiences.

Product designers have a strong understanding of user behavior. Because of this, they know that product designs should be simple, intuitive, and easy to use for most users. Product Designers also have to balance their creative thinking and practicality to express a product design idea.

When you interview an applicant, your product design interview questions should focus on these concepts. After speaking with them, you should have a good idea of their understanding of the role. As a founder, you must select a person who can fulfill the demands of this role.

Product Design, UX Design & UI Design – What's The Difference?

UX Designers think about how users interact with different screens. They mainly focus on understanding users' behavior and how they navigate through the website or app. A UX Designer aims to provide easy to use interface. They also create intuitive and easy-to-learn screen designs and features.

A designer identifying the client's goal and incorporating it to their design.
Product Designer Planning – Photographer: Kelly Sikkema

Their goal is to create a seamless flow between a series of steps and actions. Generally, UX Designers focus more on the user's experience with the process. On the contrary, they don't have strong visuals compared to UI designers.

UI Designers are responsible for the visual aspect of a product. These designers focus on creating attractive designs for most users. A UI Designer will focus on small details such as color combinations, font styles, and button sizes.

Finally, product designers are a jack of all trades. They are more versatile compared to the other two designers. Furthermore, product designers have a great mastery of design and visuals. They have a strong idea of a good design without putting practicality at risk.

These designers aim to build a relationship between Product, UX Researchers, and Marketers to create the perfect product design. In addition, they focus more on transforming a founder's idea into a solid product.

When interviewing an applicant, you must center your product design interview questions to know if you are working with the right talent. Some designers are more skilled in UI or UX than product design. You must be clear with them about what you are looking for in a candidate.

What Qualities To Look For In a Product Designer?

Product Designers have a passion for arts and design. These people are passionate individuals with enormous creative energy. A product designer loves to draw, create wireframes, and create mockups. They must be able to build functioning prototypes that you can play with.

A physical product design made by a product designer.
Physical Product Design – Photographer: Team Fredi

Strong listening skill is vital as a product designer. These designers need to understand the customer's design problems and how they can help resolve the issue. The ideal candidate should also have strong communication and visual storytelling skills.

Because of the nature of their work, product designers will work closely with a product and UX Researcher. They also have to collaborate with a Product Marketing Manager. These designers must be cooperative to meet business goals.

Product designs are triggers for the consumers. As product designers, they must understand the user's behavior and see the design from their perspective. They must also have good intuition and UX research skills to succeed in their role. These people use the market data to create an accurate representation of what a customer wants.

An ideal product designer needs to know their way around various UX procedures. This includes knowledge in Customer Experience Mapping, Product/UX Personas, and Product Flows. They should also know how to use data from user interviews.

These designers should have a basic knowledge of Product Pattern Libraries, Product Design guidelines, and Product Design principles. They should also know how to use insight tools such as Google Analytics to understand customer behavior towards design.

In the end, your product design interview questions should help you identify your candidate's strengths and weaknesses. A candidate's knowledge and experience should not be your only basis. It's important that you also look into their work ethics and integrity.

Product Designer Interview Questions To Hire Top Talent

Skills and industry knowledge are huge factors when hiring a Product Designer. Listed below are some helpful product design interview questions to ask your candidates. This can help you gauge their prior knowledge and if they are a perfect fit for the position.

An interviewer asking product design interview questions.
Asking Product Design Interview Questions – Photographer: Christina

1. How do you define Product Design?

Product Design is about building an experience. Designers should be able to create a product design users will love. Additionally, they can help the company to make the right business decisions based on research results.

Candidates need to create efficient designs. Their design should be intuitive for most product users. An ideal product design should be easy to navigate and appealing to the eyes. Your designers must know how to create wireframes, mockups, and clickable prototypes using modern design tools.

2. What is UX Research?

UX research is about understanding a customer's behavior. Designers should know how to conduct UX research to develop designs that will appeal to the customers. They must also understand how customers decide when buying a product.

A good product designer should understand the importance of research in creating an ideal product design. Because of this, they must also know what questions they should ask to get helpful insights.

3. Can you briefly explain Design thinking?

Design thinking is putting yourself in the user's shoes. This is a process where a designer will try to see the user's challenges from using their product. By doing this, they will resolve these problems and see possible issues in the future.

In addition, an ideal candidate must have good research skills to collect necessary data. They must also think in a creative way to resolve a problem.

4. What is a Product Persona?

A Product Persona is a representation of your actual customers. This helps product managers and designers understand the customer's traits and goals when buying a product. In most cases, an experienced or knowledgeable designer will have an idea of a product persona.

Asking this question will help you assess the candidate's previous experience. This will also help you understand a candidate's level of design knowledge.

5. What tools do you use for wireframing?

Wireframing is a way to plan out a product's design. In these modern times, designers can use many tools to wireframe. For example, Balsamiq, Moqups, and Axure are some of the well-known wireframing tools.

Asking this question will help you understand the technical skills of a designer. Additionally, a designer with a lot of experience with these tools doesn't need much training. It would be best to consider hiring experienced designers if you cannot train newbies.

6. What is your experience with user testing?

User testing is a process where you observe how users interact with your product. This helps you to find pain points and areas of improvement for your design. A good designer should know how to conduct user testing and what data to collect.

7. How do you go about designing for accessibility?

Accessibility is about ensuring everyone can use your product, regardless of ability. Designers need to take into account different abilities when creating their designs. For example, they need to consider colorblindness, low vision, and hearing impairments.

Product Design Interview Questions to Make your Candidate Comfortable

For the best interview results, it's essential to make the design feel comfortable. Here are some questions you can ask to set the stage and reduce anxiety for the designer.

1. How did you get interested in product design?

This question can lead to a fun story that will allow you to get to know the candidate better.

2. What do you think makes a great product design?

This question can help you understand the candidate's design philosophy.

3. Where do you find your design inspiration?

This question is excellent for understanding what resources your candidate uses for inspiration. Sometimes you can get creative answers here.

Task-related Product Design Interview Questions You Must Ask

Asking situational questions is essential when hiring a product designer. A typical product design interview question includes:

  • You need to create a wireframe for an e-commerce product page, and there is no content available. What would you do?
  • If your client wants to release a new version of the product but doesn't have any requirements, how will you handle it?

A simple "what would you do if.." question will do the trick.

Furthermore, situational questions help interviewers see a candidate's problem-solving skills. An ideal candidate should know how to resolve the most basic design issues.

1. What is important when creating a clickable prototype?

Creating a prototype helps designers understand how customers interact with their products. There are a lot of tools today where designers can create prototypes. For example, a designer can use, Justinmind, POP, or Invision.

A prototype is pretty new in the design industry. So, asking this product design interview question will help you see if the designer has updated knowledge of the design industry. Additionally, this will help you know what tools a designer can use to create a prototype.

2. Do you prefer designing for mobile, tablet, or desktop?

Designing for a laptop is different from designing for a mobile device. Therefore, you should consider a designer's experience with creating an interface of your choice. If you are making a mobile application, hiring someone with experience designing mobile interfaces would be best.

Although it's okay to hire someone with related experience, asking this question will also help the candidate understand what you are looking for in a designer.

3. How do you plan wireframes for the product?

As mentioned earlier, a wireframe is a product's design layout. When looking for a product designer, you must look for someone who knows the process behind creating a wireframe. An ideal candidate must have a good interview and research skills.

Creating a wireframe will involve other teams. A perfect candidate must also know how to cooperate with other team members. They should have a creative mind that can generate fresh ideas.

4. How do you design the wireframe?

There are many techniques that designers can use to create a wireframe. In most cases, a designer sketches on a piece of paper or a whiteboard. Some designers like to use a storyboard when planning a wireframe.

Thi product design interview questions can help you understand a designer's creative process. Most product designers have their own process. You must find one that suits yours.

5. Which design methodologies do you use?

Product designers use different methods to create a design. As a client, you must find a designer which techniques suit you. In most cases, you will be working with them for a long time. Understanding their creative process will help both of you to achieve your goals.

6. How do you create a design specification?

A design specification is an essential requirement you are looking for in a design. This will help your designer see your goals in the product. Additionally, you should also discuss your target customer when writing a design specification.

When you ask this question, it will help you know if the designer has experience creating a design specification.

7. How do you prioritize design problems?

Asking this product design question will help you gauge a candidate's skill to solve a problem. As a product owner, you don't have enough time to resolve basic design problems. This is why it's vital to hire a designer who can think of a solution on their own.

Product Design Interview Style

An interview session between a product design applicant and a recruiter
Product Design Interview – LinkedIn Sales Solutions

The interview process should be structured for candidates to know your company and what you are looking for in a new product designer. It would be best to avoid asking open-ended questions such as, "Do you think design is important?" This will prevent applicants from expressing their ideas fully.

To ask the right question is already half the solution of a problem. – Carl Jung

Your product design interview question should focus on assessing a talent's experience and knowledge. A candidate must also show how they can help you achieve your business goals.

Workers tend to stay in a place where they are valued. Most talents stay with a company where they can grow, and their needs are met. During the interview, you should also show the benefits of working with your team.

Other than looking for an ideal candidate, you must ensure that your workplace is also ideal for your team.

Final thoughts

Product design is a crucial aspect of every product and service. Therefore, hiring the correct person for the job is a must. You can do this by asking important product design interview questions and setting proper expectations from the candidate.

Hiring for such a pivotal role in your startup can be a daunting process. But with the help of this article, you will be able to sort through your long list of candidates and choose the ideal person. Design Match can help you find the perfect candidate for you! Start the matching process today.

Stay Informed

Get design tips for your startup straight to your inbox by subscribing.
Join our community!