17 UI & UX designer interview questions & answers for candidates

17 UI & UX designer interview questions & answers for candidates
Steve Tsentserensky
April 29, 202216 min read

Ah yes, every company’s favorite activity: hiring. It may not be the most glamorous undertaking but it’s critical to your operation because UI & UX designers are tasked with ensuring your site or app works well and is easily navigable. Asking the right UI & UX designer interview questions is what guarantees you bring the right person on board.

We’ve put together not only the questions but also the answers you should be looking for in an ideal candidate. If you’re a job seeker (nice move studying up), being prepped for these questions and more will absolutely give you a jump on some of your competition.

Why UI/UX interview questions are important

User experience interview questions and answers are simultaneously a window into your own company and an applicant’s qualifications. It’s a two-way street in a sense, the questions you ask illuminating how well you understand your own needs as well as showing a potential hire that you “get” what they do. The answers you get while interviewing UX candidates, of course, give you a deep dive into their skills, work style, thought process and more.

In a way, it’s mutual vetting. You’re offering the job so the ball is squarely in your court to get the info you need but not asking the right questions in the interview process can be a potential red flag to a UX pro.

In fact, one of the biggest challenges in finding the right UX designer is asking the right questions.

One additional note, although different jobs, it’s not uncommon for a company, particularly smaller companies or startups, to hire one person as their UX and UI designer. To that end, we put together an article specifically to help you understand the differences between those and how concepts like IA, UX and UI relate to one another.

Which brings us to…

Are you clear on why you’re interviewing UX candidates?

Before you start asking questions though, it’s crucial to be clear about the role you’re looking to fill in the first place so you attract the right candidates with the ideal combination of skills. One area where there’s often confusion is distinguishing between a frontend developer, a UX designer, a graphic designer and a UI designer.

If what you really want is a frontend developer, your interview questions will aim to find someone who will take responsibility for coding your site or app so it works properly.

In contrast, a UX designer is more focused on the experience of using your app or website and making sure everything about the user interface functions smoothly. UX questions should therefore focus on both the ability to understand user needs and objectives and having the skill set to develop and build a frictionless, user-centric experience.

Meanwhile, a graphic designer is all about the visuals, branding and style of your site or app. When asking graphic design interview questions, you’re aiming to find someone whose style gels with your vision and can make everything look just right.

Lastly, and graphic design-adjacent is a UI designer who’s focused on the aesthetic of the user experience, the layout of a page and the interactive elements within it. UI questions have significant overlap with ones for user experience design but will dovetail with quite a few visual design-based questions.

Types of UI & UX design interview questions

No matter the specifics of the job description you put together, the common UX design interview questions you ask will fall into two broad categories: personal and technical. The answers to questions in both camps will give your hiring manager (or you) a well-rounded picture of the candidate before you.

Questions about the candidate

These questions give you insights into the actual person. In addition to their work experience, you can get an understanding of their goals and ambitions. Personal questions are also what give you a sense of their soft skills, if they’ll fit into your company culture and whether they’ll be a good team player.

Technical interview questions

Technical questions allow you to dig in and see which important skills they bring to the table and if they align with your business goals as well as how and why they make their design decisions. These sorts of questions help you figure out if their methodology syncs with how your team works. At little bit more advanced than “what is user experience design?”, ya know.

While the characteristics that make a candidate perfect are distinct to each company, what you really want to keep an eye out for, no matter the question, are 4 key attributes:

  • A good team member — Design is often a team sport, so you want a player who can fit in well with your existing team.
  • Great communication — Your ideal UX designer will be able to communicate effectively with people across the company and funnel multiple inputs into effective UX design.
  • Problem-solving skills — Almost every design process has a hiccup somewhere. You’re looking for someone who’s happy to help eliminate the bottlenecks that get in the way of visitors or customers achieving what they want with your website or app.
  • Specific design abilities and experience — This will vary according to the project and whether you need an all-rounder or a specialist UX designer.

17 UI & UX designer interview questions & answers

And now onto the meat and potatoes: UI & UX designer interview questions and answers. Knowing which questions to ask to address whichever problem (or problems) you’re looking to hire someone to solve is good, but understanding what the answer to those questions should be is golden.

The questions will start on the personal level and move onward to technical questions in much the same way the actual interview would flow.

Let’s start with what’s probably the most common of interview questions:

1. Tell Me About Yourself

This is just a straight-up classic question that’ll give you a bit more insight into their experience, education and ambition.About yourself

How should this be answered?

It’s an opportunity for them to showcase their ability to be selective with info and briefly share what they consider some personal highlights. Look for an answer that’s to the point and doesn’t ramble. This is also a chance to get a feel for if they’ll fit your culture.

2. Why are you leaving your current job?

There’s a 50/50 chance you’ll get a sugar-coated, diplomatic answer here and not necessarily the whole truth and that’s fine. Ultimately you want to try to understand their motivation for moving on and if your company actually provides a solution.

How should this be answered?

Ideally, the answers here will be in the vein of looking for new design challenges, opportunities to upskill, wanting more responsibility, a path to a leadership role, etc.. Things of that nature. The main thing you hope not to see is an avalanche of negative feedback about their past/current employer. You don’t necessarily want a new team member that’s incapable of moving on mentally or is prone to holding grudges.

3. Why Do You Want to Work Here?

A must for any job interview, you want to know what it is about your company in particular that they dig.

How should this be answered?

Look for answers that demonstrate that they’ve done their research and aren’t just haphazardly applying and interviewing all willy-nilly. You want to hear exactly what gets them excited about your brand. Red flags to look out for are vague and generic answers.

4. How would you define UX design?

Do they really “get it”? This is a question you or a recruiter are more likely to ask a junior candidate but it doesn’t hurt to run it by a seasoned vet too.

How should this be answered?

The answer should be more than a dictionary definition. Ideally they’ll go further into what UX design means and event into an example or two.

5. How and why did you get into UX design?

It’s good to know someone’s motivation for why they’re in the field in the first place.

How should this be answered?

There’s not necessarily a right answer here but in a perfect world they’ll talk to you about deeper reasons for getting into design, i.e., a passion for solving problems, developing concepts and bringing them to life, enjoyment in the process of creating prototypes, wireframes and the like. Saying something like making good money isn’t inherently a wrong answer, plenty of folks are good at their jobs and only in it for the money, but it’s probably not what you want to hear.

6. Are you familiar with the term “design thinking”? What does it mean to you?

This allows them to demonstrate their mindset for design and their thought process.

How should this be answered?

It’s less important that a candidate knows the term design thinking and more critical that they think in a way that embodies the concept. As the Interaction Design Foundation puts it,“design thinking is an iterative process in which you seek to understand your users, challenge assumptions, redefine problems and create innovative solutions which you can prototype and test.”

They add that it:

  • Revolves around a deep interest to understand the people for whom we design products and services.
  • Helps us observe and develop empathy with the target users.
  • Enhances our ability to question: in design thinking you question the problem, the assumptions and the implications.
  • Proves extremely useful when you tackle problems that are ill-defined or unknown.
  • Involves ongoing experimentation through sketches, prototypes, testing and trials of new concepts and ideas.

A good barometer of whether a prospect can excel in a UX designer job is if they touch on some of the points above. Rest assured though, if you don’t hear what you’re looking for, the next question will clarify things.

7. Walk me through your workflow or describe your design process

There’s plenty of room to get creative in UX design, this question is asked to ensure that their creativity is bound by a workflow and process that aligns well with how your company or team operates. It also allows them to show that they understand where UX fits within the broader development process.
Design process

How should this be answered?

This answer should join theory and experience. Ultimately you want to come away with the idea that they take a user-centered approach.They should discuss how they use the full range of tools to develop strong UX. That means qualitative and quantitative research, understanding the importance of user personas and creating user journey maps that incorporate them in order to build smooth user flows. It means not losing the forest for the trees and acknowledging that UX requires quality information architecture to excel. Look for their process to extend past the user research, strategy and design phases and into usability testing.

They should also talk about how they hand off to developers and how they work with user interface designers.

8. Show me your portfolio

The proof is in the pudding as they say so this is arguably the most important question. As a potential employer, you want to see if their style, work and designs work with your company.UX portfolio

How should this be answered?

Bottom line, it’s all about the work. A lot can be forgiven with a portfolio that knocks your socks off. In terms of how this is answered though, the candidate should walk you through their portfolio, not just say “here” and slide it over. Better yet, they’ll get into the UX design process as they go and highlight a favorite project or two that they’re proud of.

9. Tell me about a UX problem you’re proud to have overcome and how you did it

The ability to solve navigational, design, interaction-based problems and beyond is core to a UX designer’s job. Asking for a specific example allows them to showcase those skills.

How should this be answered?

You’re looking for a clear definition of the problem itself and then a detailed roadmap of the steps they took to conquer it. On top of UX best practices and showing a powerful grasp of UX design, they should be taking you through tools they used and an ability to collaborate with other stakeholders to get the job done. If the process sounds convoluted, unnecessarily complex, lacking in a team approach (if their example would’ve benefited from one) or all about blaming others for the problem in the first place, that’s a problem.

10. Tell me about a successful project you contributed to

A UX designer is part of a team. You don’t want to bring someone on who’s afraid to collaborate or intentionally does everything themselves, even things outside of their wheelhouse, and in turn slow down the project.

How should this be answered?

Their answer should showcase an ability to clearly understand the role they play and how they were able to knock their part of a project out of the park. The last thing you want to do to your project manager is saddle them with someone who can’t work in a team.

11. How would you improve our UX?

This is a chance for them to show they’ve done their homework and can handle potentially awkward situations that come up with clients. You may not be hiring them to improve your UX but when having discussions about client work you’ll want your team members to feel comfortable being open and honest. Asking a candidate to critique your own UX is a good way to measure this.

How should this be answered?

What you don’t want to see is them doing everything possible to avoid saying something negative. They should be able to talk positively about areas that work and frame any areas to improve as potential positives for the end-user. Ultimately you want to gain some comfort and confidence in how they may talk to your clients down the road. Also, they may bring up a solution you genuinely need, that’s a win-win.

12. What are your go-to UX design tools?

It’s good to know what they’re comfortable using to see if it syncs up with the tools your team already uses on a daily basis. Not a dealbreaker if they don’t use the same tools but it lets you know there will be an adjustment period while they learn or while the workflow is adjusted to accommodate.

How should this be answered?

Be it Adobe Xd, Figma, Sketch, UXPin, Slickplan, Axure or others, there’s a batch of tools that the majority of designers use on any given design project. You want to hear some of these names being dropped. That said, don’t get caught up in if they know this or that tool, the tool is secondary to having an ironclad understanding of design principles.

As Dylan Ortega of EnjoyHQ notes:

It’s important that your candidates know their way around industry-standard tools, but knowing a software program inside and out is no substitute for mastery of design fundamentals.

Dylan Ortega EnjoyHQ

Dylan Ortega, EnjoyHQ

13. How do you know your UX design is successful? Do you use KPIs or analytical tools to measure success?

You want to understand what they consider success. Is it abstract? A feeling? Or do they use concrete metrics and KPIs to benchmark results?

How should this be answered?

UX that feels good isn’t enough to constitute a success. Success should be measured with data. Look for them to identify metrics like clicks, conversions, time-on-page, bounce rates, etc. and how their UX designs were able to play a role in improving those numbers. While you want specifics, what you really need is to gain confidence in the fact they understand why having clear benchmarks is important for gauging success.

14. Where do you go for UX design inspiration? Any websites or apps whose UX design you adore?

This helps you understand where they get ideas, whether they’re keeping up with the trends and what they consider to be good design.

How should this be answered?

The first part of the question, where they get inspiration, should mainly be specific. You don’t want some vague answer about how water ripples on the Atlantic help them generate ideas. Look for individual blogs, websites, podcasts, UX YouTube channels, etc. that highlight active interest in the space and a passion for continuous improvement.As far as the second part of the question, you want to know why they love those particular websites or apps from a UX perspective and what works well about them in their minds.

15. How do you handle disagreements or negative feedback?

No project is perfect and feedback goes with the territory, learning how they handle the heat — or at least how they say they handle it — is vital.

How should this be answered?

Not every song is a hit and neither is every design. Whether the notes come from the client, product manager or another stakeholder, you want to hear how they dealt with it. That means the solution and the outcome and whether they moved on happily afterward.

16. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Circling back to a personal question, this gives you a sense of their longer-term ambitions and plans.

How should this be answered?

Onboarding someone isn’t cheap and you don’t want to have to do it multiple times unnecessarily. Their answer should give you the sense that they’re willing to commit to your company and grow right along with you. To improve their skills, become an integral part of your organization and move up when possible. If they’re clearly planning to use you as a stepping stone or don’t seem committed to the job, those are big warning signs.

17. Do you have any questions for me?

Start on a classic, end on a classic. Opening the floor to questions about your workplace gives them a chance to gain more insight into what a career at your company looks like.

How should this be answered?

The worst answer is having no questions at all. That’s a big-time red flag that telegraphs a lack of care. Expect a quality candidate to ask questions. Period. What does a typical workday look like? Tell me about the team. Are there design trends you’re particularly keen on implementing? Is this job remote-friendly or is it office-based? A good hire will want to know more about your company.

Our final points on the questions to ask in a UX/UI interview

Finding the right candidate for the job is a job in its own right. Given that, it’s worth noting that this isn’t an exhaustive list of all the interview questions for a UX designer you should be asking. Your company has its own distinct needs and you may even want your new hire to have a firm grasp of a particular design discipline. Because of those variables, 16 questions very likely aren’t going to be enough to get total clarity on a prospective hire. Use these as a starting point and add what’s necessary to get to the comfort level you need to make the best decision.

Steve Tsentserensky is a freelance copywriter, video producer and photographer with a knack for making the complex consumable. A passion for travel has led him to the digital nomad lifestyle and an ever-changing office from which he creates content for companies large and small through his production company, SBT Productions. Find him on LinkedIn.