19 Essential Visual Design Interview Questions *
Toptal sourced essential questions that the best visual designers can answer. Driven from our community, we encourage experts to submit questions and offer feedback.Hire a Top Visual Designer Now
Suggest a few projects, or ask a designer to select a project and then dissect it. The candidate should be able to pick it apart.
Listen for answers that explain context, goals, references, influences and pure aesthetics, as well as identifying problems, solutions, and outcome of the chosen direction. If the candidate can elaborate with quick solutions to a set of specific problems, that’s even better.
Discuss areas of personal development, with emphasis on visual design.
How would the designer become even better or branch out into different areas and expertise of the design spectrum?
Look for elaborate and interesting stories, search for passion for design and design-thinking. References to history, design history, art, culture, music and architecture are useful when describing choices, intentions and solutions.
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The candidate needs to explain the entire design process, the decisions, ideation, context, why’s, do’s and dont’s, through describing the production and execution of a specific project.
Question the designer’s decisions to discover details of projects and the reasoning behind these decisions. Ask how the designer would have made those projects even better.
Finding out more about the designer’s background, based on his or her general introduction can provide us with relevant information about the design school the candidate attended, past/current work positions, design experience, problems and projects that s/he found along the way and how this translates to his/her current design career and future aspirations.
When discussing this theme, the energy and imagination behind the answers will give you an idea of the designer’s character and spirit.
Based on the answers, an interviewer can expand the interview based on the designer’s concept and style preferences, influences, historical references and everything that drives his/her’s professional career.
The design process is essential to how design candidates develop and create their work. Insight and the way they work can distinguish their quality. As the design process becomes more thorough, the results become more elaborate and detailed.
Also, the design process is often limited by budget and time, and a useful insight would be how s/he and the design teams that s/he has worked with in the past handled various situations and briefs.
When discussing design research, it is necessary to cover all the angles with which the candidate is familiar, and explain the reasoning why s/he decided to use a particular technique, tool, or way of thinking to achieve a result.
Nevertheless, if a designer received the data via the client, copywriter, strategist, or UX designer, it will be necessary to conduct further research that will confirm the designer’s statements, possibly upgrading the outcome.
Standard skills are a must, from Adobe to Sketch, but look for the extra during an interview.
Processing, illustration, animation, video, art skills, and the like, that bring extra potential to specific clients and projects.
From digital to print to 360 solutions, from social causes to luxury projects, pinpoint candidates’ interests and preferences, and build up the talk to personal goals, project goals and things they want to do and create but haven’t had a chance to do.
Let your creative juices flow, we want to hear the craziest and wildest ideas of what might next drive the design industry. Extra points for storytelling!
For example, VR (virtual reality) is opening a big space in the consumer world: from gaming to virtual museums and any kind of virtual experiences. In regard to visual design and interaction, VR is one of the new mediums for design inclusion from the graphic and interactive perspective.
From awards, to happy clients, consumers, engaged public, social movement, and tangible results in skyrocketing numbers and profits, we want to hear it all.
How did it start, what happened, and why did you succeed?
If you were confronted by a tough challenge, we want to hear about it. Why was it the biggest challenge in your career? What happened, what did you do to overcome it, what tools and processes were employed?
Most design work goes unseen and behind the curtains in the design process. We want to hear your design hero story. Alternatively, describe your dream challenge and how you would design a process to help you deal with it.
Q: Please describe why you would like to work with a team and why you would like to work alone?
This is more of a character test. Further, it can show us which way you work, how your design process develops and what type of work you want to do. Maybe you prefer a team, and you’ll show and tell us how you would be good in a team, or lead a team?
Tell us what you do best and list the areas where you want to be even better. Please do show off (but don’t overdo it).
Concentrate on all the positive qualities that you would bring to a project, client or a brand. We know that you work hard, and might be a team player, but we want to know what you can create that would be excellent.
Q: Design school never ends, at least for great designers. How do you learn and grow your knowledge and expertise?
Designers are curious, and want to know everything and get better with each passing day. Share your design secret on how you expand and improve your knowledge.
How did you learn from your mistakes, and from mistakes made by others?
What books do you recommend, how do you stay in touch with design trends?
What are your influences in design?
What magazines, design and creative blogs do you follow?
We all know that good design conveys information and communicates ideas.
This may come as a general question, but you can explain it to us, and show us your knowledge, and describe good design by telling us about projects, products, visual identities, campaigns, services, apps that inspired you or influenced you in any way.
Dieter Rams and his straightforward list of 10 principles in design, laid down key points, clearly stating what makes a good design. This information is a timeless source of inspiration and a great starting point to discuss projects that include these principles; it’s even better if a designer questions them.
Color plays a major part in the consideration of visual communication.
Big brands tell their stories through color. They connect with their consumers and the public with consistent use of color, color palettes and color systems. Color is a powerful tool that enables distinction and differentiation between brands. A brand that changes color with a new identity sometimes has dangerous results.
Tell us how successful brands communicate through color theory, and the meaning of color in design.
A great app requires a unique visual design, a fast and understandable user experience and interaction.
Clear display of information and hierarchy are fundamental in how the user understands the intended visual communication of the app. Memorable visual identity and association of colour are just a few elements that make a great app.
Show us some great apps and explain what makes them good. Likewise, explain how some popular apps could be improved upon.
There is more to interviewing than tricky technical questions, so these are intended merely as a guide. Not every “A” candidate worth hiring will be able to answer them all, nor does answering them all guarantee an “A” candidate. At the end of the day, hiring remains an art, a science — and a lot of work.
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Submitted questions and answers are subject to review and editing, and may or may not be selected for posting, at the sole discretion of Toptal, LLC.
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With years of experience in design and advertising, Steve is an art director and designer at Rethink, the world's second-largest independent advertising agency. He freelances for companies worldwide as a branding, visual, and UI/UX designer for clients of all sizes. Steve has had the pleasure of working for other advertising agencies such as DDB, Tribal Worldwide, Grand Creative, Colenso BBDO, and more. He communicates exceptionally well with his clients and has worked in teams of all sizes.Show More
Shammer is a brand and digital designer with over ten years of experience. His breadth of skills varies from print to digital design. He defines himself as a chameleon; he can design for various clients while staying true to their brand's visual identity and extending it wherever needed or desired.Show More
Marti is a senior UI/UX designer based in New York. For the past several years, he's been designing digital products for the banking, hospitality, fashion, healthcare, pharmaceutical, automotive, and software industries. Marti's past clients include Citibank, HP, Galaxkey, Meta, Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen Group, Riyad Bank, Vorwerk Thermomix, Asics, The Ritz-Carlton Group, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Al Rajhi Bank, and First Abu Dhabi Bank.Show More
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