Graphic Designer Interview Questions: What to Know to Land the Job

Graphic designers are key players in the creation of many a product or service. Without them, the final result could look terrible—so terrible that no end-user wants it. In order to do their best work, graphic designers must combine strong technical skills (and mastery of popular design applications) with great communication, storytelling, and teamwork skills. A typical graphic designer interview for a job will focus on all these things.

During a graphic designer interview, candidates should expect questions that focus on their portfolio. The recruiter or hiring manager will also ask about their career, the type of work they’ve produced in the past, and how they’ve handled client needs.

Sriram Ramakrishnan, senior vice president of Experis Practices for Manpower Group, said some of the opening questions a graphic designer may face include:

  • Their years of experience.
  • Their specialty skills (if any).
  • Open-ended questions about design trends.

Those could be followed up by questions about creative process and techniques. For the candidate, this will give you the chance to highlight the innovative solutions you’ve used to complete projects.

“It also gives you the chance to highlight your experience on different tools for various templates, be it flyers, email campaigns or animations,” Ramakrishnan said. “Candidates will have to highlight those skills with some concrete examples, as well as show some examples of past creative work.”

Sample Questions: Your Portfolio

  • Do you have a website to showcase your past work?
  • Can you show some examples of how you’ve handled negative feedback on any of your designs, and how you overcame that?

Darren Sharp, CEO of tech and design professional recruitment firm S-SA Digital, said the interview will come down to three things: Portfolio, portfolio, portfolio.

Before diving into your produced work, potential employers will want to know why you chose this career path at all. “Most clients want to see a passion somewhere,” he said. “Be prepared to talk about what your drivers are—design should be a passion, not just a career.”

Sample Questions: Your Approach to Design

  • What do you like about graphic design?
  • What’s your process like?
  • Tell us about your approach to design.

Candidates can nearly always expect questions about their design process during the graphic designer interview. Many companies and consultancies rely on Adobe applications (i.e., Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign being the big three); once you’ve demonstrated your proficiency in those, interviewers will likely move on to discuss how you approach design assignments, how you interact with clients and other stakeholders, and the results of your work.

You may also be asked about how you’ve dealt with criticism and the need for revisions. “What one person thinks a good design isn’t the next person’s cup of tea,” Sharp said. Use that question to show that you’re a team player, and that you can use all kinds of input to create a product that everyone loves.

Sample Questions: Focus on Detail

  • How do you secure buy-in from others about your designs?
  • What’s your approach to meetings?
  • How would you design [XYZ] element using this application?

Ramakrishnan thinks you’ll likely face questions about your communication techniques, particularly when you present designs to stakeholders. Use this opportunity to highlight your mastery of different collaboration techniques; deploy stories about how you arrived at a final design after going through the process with various stakeholders.

“Most design agencies will want good soft skills, including good communications and questioning skills,” Sharp said. “You want to be able to question the client in the right way and to get as much information as possible for you to be able to do your creative piece properly.” Listening skills, in other words, are key.

Sample Questions: Mobile Design

  • What’s your experience with mobile design?
  • What do you understand about designing for a mobile-first audience?

In addition, graphic designer candidates will be asked about their experience and proficiency in designing for mobile devices, a key request from clients in an era of mobile-first interactions. The tools are usually pretty standard; interviewers are more interested in your approach.

“It’s about demonstrating your understanding of the unique demands of the mobile format more than any particular technical skill set,” Sharp said. “That includes how your designs will look from a sizing perspective all the way through to how it’s formatted when it comes together.”