Interview questions designers should ask

Interview questions designers should ask

Kristi Doran's Layout avatar

Interviews are stressful. There are a lot of opinions about how to dress, what to bring, how you should present yourself, and what questions to ask. Since graduating from college, I’ve been discussing interview questions with my friends and peers working in an array of career fields. Below, you’ll find my favorite questions to ask in an interview as a graphic designer and why.

Will I be working on a Mac or PC?

This question always, always needs an explanation for the non-design crowd. The reason I make a point to ask this – and it’s not because of Mac’s magnificently simplistic user operating system, although that doesn’t hurt – is because:

  1. PC’s lack in typographic opportunities. The standard typefaces installed on a Mac are a higher quantity and superior to those provided on a PC. Downloadable typefaces are riskier to a PC because of their susceptibility to viruses; therefore, limiting a designer’s work.
  2. The operating system on a Mac can handle multiple applications open at once. I’m always using InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop and need them running simultaneously. This is possible to do on a Mac because of Apple’s focus on a fluid operating system. I’ve worked with InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop on a PC before and it was not ideal. A PC’s focus is on functionality and minimal costs, which is great for other professions, but not so much for designers. Basically, a graphic designer can and will do work more efficiently when provided with a Mac.
  3. I like an employer who has an understanding for the position they’re hiring. They may not know the reasoning for a Mac or understand why that’s preferred, but by providing me with a Mac, that at least tells me they respect the work I’m doing.

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I’m afraid to say it, but a graphic design position with a PC is a dealbreaker.

What software will I be using? Adobe Creative Suite 5.5? Adobe Creative Cloud?

This question is pretty standard for most designers. I ask this because it gives me an idea of how up to date the technology is and how much the company likes recent technology. This gives me an idea of how to prepare if I accept the position and tells me a little more about the work environment.

Do you have any concerns about me or my qualifications for this position?

This question isn’t necessarily designer specific, but I love it. Initially, when a friend told me they asked this question in interviews, it terrified me. What if they tear me apart, point out all the areas I need improvement in, or express skills I’m lacking? But then I thought, I wouldn’t have been asked to the interview if they thought I was unqualified. I’ve also found that by asking this question, it shows that I’m open to critique – which is key since critiques are a regular task for a graphic designer.

Can you tell me what stood out to you from my resume?

Arguably, this is for a nice ego boost amidst a series of personality and professional questions. However, it also provides some insight on where you stand amongst other applicants and what to highlight when applying for other positions.

How many people will I be working with?

This will help you understand the work environment, if it’s a good fit for you, and how you can fit in. You might be productive working with a small group of three to five people, or a large group of 20 to 30 may be more your speed. Asking this question will help you learn if a job has the right environment for you to thrive in.

Photo credit to Creative Sustainability. Photo credit to Creative Sustainability.

What are some of the biggest challenges the team/department faces?

By asking about the challenges, you’ll gain an idea of the type of work you’ll be doing, an understanding of the goals and expectations, and you’ll learn how you can be an asset to the team.

What is a typical day like?

The response to this question allows you to paint a picture of the atmosphere you’ll be working in and discover if it’ll work for you. I prefer a schedule with a mild routine, one where I’m able to collaborate with a team, spend time designing on the computer with my headphones in, and get up from my desk throughout the day.

Asking these questions has always helped me feel positive after an interview and has helped me decide if the position would be a solid fit. Have you asked some of these questions in an interview? What are some of your favorites?

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