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Why this matters:

Designers work with a variety of mediums and digital tools. Training on Computer Assisted Design (CAD) software is a prerequisite for most roles. These hard skills can be taught, but understanding what a candidate is familiar with coming into the position can help determine what training will be necessary to get up to speed.

What to listen for:

  • Knowledge of relevant software, tools, and technologies used in the field
  • Description of how the use of modern tools aids in groundbreaking design work
  • Proven experience learning new technologies and willingness to adapt to new trends

Why this matters:

Designers should be familiar with and capable of applying design thinking methodology to their work. The principle includes core tenants like empathy and experimentation that are helpful in design and enable companies to understand a problem, identify solutions, develop prototypes, test capabilities, and fine-tune ideas. Candidates familiar with design thinking will have the right mindset to deliver innovative work.

What to listen for:

  • Demonstration of familiarity with the key principles of design thinking
  • Experience developing and testing new designs using established processes
  • Eagerness to explore the tenets of design thinking and apply them in the workplace

Why this matters:

Portfolios showcase artistic talent and technical design skills, and play an integral role in differentiating candidates during the hiring process. Equally important is the ability to tell the story behind the artwork. Designers often pitch their ideas and persuade audiences that their work is aligned with corporate goals and specific directives.

What to listen for:

  • A description of the candidate’s role and process in developing the portfolio piece
  • Confidence, enthusiasm, and passion in describing the story behind the work
  • Hard skills and learned techniques, tools, or traditions that led to excellence in design

 

Why this matters:

Designers typically spend time working alone, but later come together to share ideas in a group setting. Knowing a candidate’s preferences and flexibility level can help dictate how teams are built or how design processes are planned, but ideally a candidate will have prior experience and comfort working in both types of settings.

What to listen for:

  • Ability to thrive under pressure or in other challenging work environments
  • Recognition of the value of both independent and collaborative work
  • A flexible, positive attitude in working independently and collaboratively as needed

Why this matters:

Collaboration is essential to producing the best results. Designers can share how feedback has helped them improve, what they consider valuable or fair criticism, and how they prefer to receive input. Top designers actively seek feedback on their work and avoid taking it personally. They can also support and defend their work in respectful ways when necessary, sharing insights into their decision-making process.

What to listen for:

  • Open and honest communication of preferences for review processes and peer collaboration
  • Experience with experimentation, asking for help, accepting feedback, and coping with discomfort
  • Receptivity to ongoing learning experiences and the desire to grow with the company

Why this matters:

Design trends are continuously changing and evolving along with audience expectations and preferences. Companies are looking for fresh ideas, but also aesthetics that are guaranteed to please. Designers are expected to keep up with competitors, trendsetters, and the industry at large. Candidates can share strategies for monitoring the latest developments or talk about someone whose work influenced their own.

What to listen for:

  • Relevant experience introducing and incorporating new design trends 
  • Knowledge and understanding of what makes for aesthetically pleasing modern design
  • Commitment to learning, strategies for keeping up with trends, and interest in industry innovations

Why this matters:

Communication is one of the most sought-after skills recruiters look for in designers. Every team member must feel trusted, valued, and encouraged to express ideas without fear of rejection and understand how to give feedback in a positive, constructive manner. Candidates can stand out by describing soft skills common to artful communicators.

What to listen for:

  • Self-reflection, confidence, and communication skills in exploring personal strengths
  • Experiences that reflect building strong interpersonal relationships within a team
  • Understanding that empathy, listening skills, and curiosity allow designers to do their best work

Why this matters:

Designers brainstorm ideas, research trends, and develop concepts. Whether it’s sketching, participating in team scrums, developing a mood board, or testing graphic elements in CAD, designers with a strong work ethic have an organized plan to keep creative ideas flowing. Time management and teamwork skills can be exemplified by touching base with project managers or consulting others before moving forward.

What to listen for:

  • Critical thinking skills in taking ideas from seed to fruition
  • Communication skills in expressing creative ideas clearly and logically
  • Organization skills in following directions and exploring design solutions

Why this matters:

Last-minute requests and unexpected delays are unavoidable from time to time. Candidates can share past experiences that exemplify putting in extra effort to meet an urgent deadline or communicating with others to adjust expectations. The strongest applicants will stand out by sharing specific strategies that help them deal with the sudden demands this role is likely to entail.

What to listen for:

  • Experience working in challenging, fast-paced, or unpredictable environments
  • Organized steps to break down tasks, prioritize, stay focused, and deliver quality work on time
  • Soft skills in stress management, time management, communication, and a strong work ethic
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