Prepare for the UX Designer Interview (Questions and Answers)

Product Designer
Jacob SimonJacob SimonLast updated
Hey there! This article is part of our series on UX and Product Design, and is based on writing by Garron Engstrom for Exponent's Product Design Interview Course.

Trying to get ready for an upcoming UX designer interview?

We sat down with designers from some of the top tech companies including Meta, Google, and more to understand what you actually need to prepare for UX and product design interviews.

UX Design and Product Design interviews can be mystifying, but are ultimately meant to get a well-rounded picture of your design skillset.

As a result, you’ll need to demonstrate not only high-level product thinking and prioritization.

You'll also showcase your strengths and familiarity with visual design, user research, and cross-team collaboration.

While design interviews often follow a fairly predictable format, the process can vary dramatically between companies.

It’s best to familiarize yourself with all of the different interview types described below. Let’s get started!


UX Designer Interview Stages

At a high level, the designer interview has these interview stages at most companies. Startups and big companies alike use these interview steps to assess UX designer candidates.

Phone Screen Interview

In this 30-45 min interview, a recruiter or hiring manager will ask questions about your experience and what areas of design you focus on.

Be prepared to answer basic questions like:

  • “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
  • "What are your favorite and least favorite parts of design?"
  • “What are your salary expectations?”
  • “Why are you looking to switch jobs right now?”

For examples of how to answer questions like this, check out our resources on behavioral interviews and the STAR framework based on Amazon's hiring practices.

UX Portfolio Review

There's no getting around it: Portfolios are important as a designer.

They're the outward representation of your skills and experience and are important in getting the attention of recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers.

Your online portfolio will help attract the attention of recruiters.

But when it comes to the interview process, you'll likely need to do a Portfolio Review over a video call or in-person.

Typically, the portfolio review interview is a 30 or 45-minute presentation.

Format for the UX Portfolio Review

In order to convey everything you need in a short presentation, here is a proposed format for your UX portfolio review.

  1. Introduction Tell the interviewers about yourself: What do you spend your free time doing? Help them understand your motivation.
  2. Big Project. Choose a large, interesting project to spend the majority of the time on. Ideally, this is a project where you helped define the UX design strategy alongside product management or other stakeholders. Help them understand the business problem you solved. Walk them through your design process from prototypes to final outcomes.
  3. Small Project. If you have time, select another project that highlights a particularly strong skill of yours that may not have been demonstrated elsewhere already (e.g. interaction design, prototyping).
  4. Q&A.

Expect lots of questions throughout and after your presentation.

Sample UX Design Interview Questions for a Portfolio Review

  • What was the actual outcome of this work?
  • Was it successful? Did you meet or exceed the business metrics? If not, why?
  • What would do differently if you could go back in time?
  • How many iterations were there? How did you choose the end solution?
  • Did you work within existing pattern libraries or develop new patterns? Why?
  • Which parts of the design were you directly responsible for?

Portfolio Review Mock Presentation

Check out this portfolio review video for a realistic example, and don't forget to check out the Introduction to Portfolio Reviews lesson on Exponent.

App Critique UX Interview

The App Critique interview is designed to mimic a normal part of the design process: critique.

Treat this as an opportunity to show the interviewer signal on core design skills.

This includes things like product thinking, visual design, interaction design, usability testing, and more.

Sample UX Designer App Critique Questions

  • Open Google Maps and to tell me what could be improved with the visual and interaction design. (See answer)
  • Let's reverse-engineer the design of LinkedIn app. What do you think could be improved? (See answer)
  • Take a look at the Spotify App. Why did they design it this way, and what could be improved from a user experience standpoint? (See answer)

As tempting as it is, don't jump into the first solution you think of!

The best answers to these questions take a structured approach to the problem.

How to Structure Your Answer

  1. Set context: Talk about the company. What problem does the app solve for users? How does the business make money?
  2. Choose a use case: Identify a use case in the app and walk through that flow, analyzing the design and how well it solves the problem you chose.
  3. Evaluate: Summarize your thoughts on the flow and make a recommendation that would improve metrics that this business cares about.

Common app critique follow-up interview questions for UX designers

  • "Tell me more about this design. Why do you think the designer chose this?"
  • "What are your thoughts on the visual design, like color, typography, etc."
  • "What is the information hierarchy here? What did they prioritize?"

Design Takehome UX Interview

Takehome design challenges are meant to get a realistic sample of what it would be like to work with you as a UX designer on a real problem.

You won't be expected to spend as much time as you would on a real problem.

Even seasoned UX designers still take weeks or months to properly conduct user interviews and ultimately roll out changes to an app.

But you should still attempt to go through a condensed version of your normal design process and produce a polished final result or recommendation.

Design takehome questions:

  • Re-design the sign up flow and onboarding for {X}
  • How would you re-design {X} for {Y} - e.g. Uber for Doctors
  • Re-imagine the checkout flow for an app to increase conversion

Remember, the key point here isn't necessarily to get it "right."

vThere is no right or wrong answer. But you do want to produce a reasonable result and show your work.

Justify Your Design Decisions

We recommend including a brief write-up with your project to justify the design decisions you made, including:

  • Any assumptions you made about the business goals and user needs
  • Rationale for your UX design decisions based on those goals
  • How you would measure the results or impact
  • What you would improve if you had more time

More UX Design Resources

Here at Exponent, we've connected tens of thousands of job seekers in countless tech roles with expert courses and resources to best prepare them for their upcoming interviews, including UX designers.

If you're interested in more design-related resources, be sure to check out:

👨‍🎓 Take our complete Product Design Interview Course.

📖 Read through our company-specific interview guides

❓ Find more UX designer interview questions and answers

👯‍♂️ Practice your behavioral and interviewing skills with our mock interview practice tool.

Learn everything you need to ace your product designer interviews.

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