Fun employment isn’t bad. You get to spend quality time with yourself and your cat, develop your embroidery skills, cook, clean and update your online portfolio. However, the fun usually stops after one too many “thank you for your time, but…” emails. We all know that landing a job is pretty much a full-time job in itself, and it’s not rare to feel a little discouraged throughout the process. That’s why we’ve met up with five design team leaders here at Wix, to ask them about their interview techniques. We found out what questions they ask in design interviews, what they’re actually trying to find out, and tips on how to answer. Whether you’re a graphic, web, motion, UX or UI designer, we’ve got you covered.
Oz Bar-Natan, Head of Wix Marketing Studio
Running a studio of more than 25 people, with a wide variety of missions, from designing websites, to creating illustrations for posters and more, requires a highly professional and diverse team. Working for marketing in mind implies sticking to deadlines, dealing well with pressure, having the ability to work independently, as well as having a good team spirit. How does Oz Bar-Natan make sure he finds these qualities in every one of the newcomers in his team? Here are the questions he asks:
What did you do in your previous job and why did you decide to leave?
“I’m looking to understand what the person’s role was in their previous team, both professionally and socially. It’s important for me to understand the whole picture: how many people were in the team, what the hierarchy between the designers was and who did what. This helps me get some insights into how the person was perceived in terms of their skills. By knowing what their main strengths are in design, and in which area they express their skills in the best way (for example illustration, thinking of creative ideas, etc.), I can find out what their input would be on our team and which specific position suits their abilities and expertise.”
Where do you get updated about design trends?
“Here, I want to understand whether the person has knowledge and a clear understanding of the design world. Most of the answers are similar – Pinterest, Behance, Muzli, and Dribbble – and it’s totally fine, as long as people have a genuine and unique outlook on these valuable sources. Sometimes, people come up with other answers, and it can either suggest that they’re not really up-to-date, or the opposite – that they know where to find the most cutting-edge information. Being aware of what’s going on in the industry on a global scale is crucial, because I’m looking for people that live and breathe design.”
How do you stay organized and keep deadlines?
“It’s important for me to understand how the person’s work actually looks, how organized their folders and files are, whether they have a schedule, or use a certain program for task management. Sometimes, I ask to see their work file from the assignment they did before the interview. It helps me see how the designer actually works and if their process is right. It’s important that the file is built in a way that someone can go back into it and work on it afterward. For example, if the designer hasn’t used masks, or has flattened images, instead of working with Smart Objects in Photoshop, this can be tricky. Being organized is super important, but normally it’s also something that can be learned on the job.”
Tell me about a certain project from your portfolio that you’re especially proud of and why.
“Knowing how to tell the story behind your work is important. A designer should be able to explain how the project started, how they approached it and what their role was. This question acts as a summary of all the previous ones. It helps me understand what inspires the person, which trends they’re aware of, what their design process is, how they work in a team and how they deal with times and pressure.”
Ofra Lior, Community Design Team Leader
Being in charge of the content that Wix publishes on its social channels and blogs, read and followed by millions of people every day, requires a certain kind of designer. As well as taking care of the visual aspects, the Community Design team needs to be on top of social trends, full of creative ideas, have a curious personality, and be eager to develop and discover new things. Here are the questions Ofra Lior asks:
What’s your favorite social channel and why?
“As well as checking out the person’s social media platforms before meeting them, I also often ask questions on the subject. I want to see what kind of content they publish, and whether they follow trends and are aware of what’s happening in the rapidly developing world of social media. Their answer should be from a design perspective and show they have a thorough understanding of that specific platform. For example, they should know what kind of content works well on it – comic, in-depth, mainly visual, or DIY related for example. This question also shows me whether they have other interests or passions.”
Do you have any hobbies or passions?
“Even if the answer isn’t design related, this question is really important to me. Sometimes, the person’s passion wasn’t expressed in their previous job. Here, if they know the visual language of another field, such as music, photography, or anything else, it can definitely benefit us. Throughout the interview, I try to understand what type of person they are. It’s not just about asking work-related questions. The person’s portfolio can show me whether they’re a good designer or not, but in the end, their personality will end up reflecting in their designs.”
Which software do you feel the most comfortable working with?
“There isn’t one program that’s better than the other. It just reflects on what kind of designer they are. If they use Illustrator, they’re probably more into illustrations and vector art. Someone who prefers using Photoshop probably has a different visual language.”
Tell me about the home assignment you did.
“Although for me, the interview is the place to understand their personality, talking about the home assignment they did also sheds some light on who they are. I want to check firstly that they’re good designers and can do the job technically. It’s also important to see that they properly understood the brief and the expectations. Tip: if you’re given an assignment on the spot, feel free to ask as many questions as you need, to ensure that everything is clear. It also shows that you’re serious and really want the position.”
* Extra tips!
“When talking about your previous job, even if you absolutely hated it, keep positive! Otherwise it will just sound like you’re whining. On another note, make sure your portfolio and CV stand out. Think of that extra quirky little comment that will intrigue whoever is reading your CV and make them want to meet you. When I was looking for a job and had no experience in design, I wrote that I shared an apartment with a spider that had inhabited my bathroom. The entire interview was about that spider. That’s what got me the job.”
Zachi Masas, Head of Broadcast Studio
Made up of a super talented crew of motion graphic designers, each member of the Broadcasting Team has their own expertise. They’re constantly working together to come up with a diverse range of highly creative and original projects, from 3D animations, to web design tutorials and more. In interviews, other than seeing if the person has the right technical skills (using programs like Cinema 4D and Adobe After Effects), Zachi puts an emphasis on getting to know them. Creating as much of a comfortable and homely atmosphere as possible, he tries to help the person feel at ease. This way, he can learn a lot about them, getting a sense of the vibe they bring across, and whether they’re trying to impress him. These are the questions he asks:
What are your interests and passions, other than design?
“This question helps me get to know the person from a slightly different angle and see other aspects of their personality. It also allows me to see how their other interests affect their works. You can learn a lot from someone’s hobbies, and find parallels between their lifestyle and skills.”
Tell me about a personal project you’ve done that you especially like.
“Often, I find it more interesting to look at personal projects, rather than projects that the person did for clients. They help me discover more specific and in-depth things about the person, like how they work in a team, how well they receive feedback, what their work process is and how they’ve dealt with certain situations in the past. When talking about the “behind the scenes” process of a project, think about what you can convey about yourself through that – was there a point at which you overcame a challenge? Or did you initiate a collaboration with someone? Think about any interesting point throughout the process that could present you as having control over the project. You can get a real sense of the type of character that created the work in motion graphics, because there’s a plot and movement involved. Through analyzing a piece of work, you can feel whether the person is crazy, funny, aesthetic, deductive, or theoretical.”
Have you had a look at some of the works we’ve created here?
“When preparing for an interview, make sure you do your homework. Check the studio’s works that you’re applying for. Don’t trust what people may have told you – look for yourself. The interviewer will really appreciate it if you’ve taken the time to look at the different projects, analyzed them and can talk about them. It shows that you care and that you want the job.”
What are your main strengths within the field of motion graphics?
“When you go to an interview, you should come knowing what your superpower is. As soon as you understand what you’re good at, you can use that knowledge to develop and strengthen yourself, becoming an expert in that specific field. When working on large scale complex projects, you need a team in which everyone has different skills and can contribute with their expertise, whether it be editing, writing, aesthetics or anything else. No one can be good at everything. It’s important to be honest and be yourself at an interview, as you’ll probably end up working a lot with other people, and you can’t pretend you’re someone that you’re not.”
* Extra tips!
“You know that part of pretty much every interview when you’re asked if you have any questions? My advice: ask questions (and not what the work hours are)! Show proficiency, asking something that can help you understand the work better and the responsibility that the team has within the company. There’s nothing more annoying than coming out of an interview and saying “how did I not say that?!” Finally, my advice is to just be real, and show that you love the profession.”
Bat-El Sebbag, UX Manager
Collaborating on a wide range of projects, from Corvid by Wix, to the enormous number of products within the Wix Editor, the UX team is full of passionate professionals. Bat-El Sebbag and her co-workers look for highly creative people who are good thinkers, open to learning and are fun to work with. Personality is a key factor in finding new team members. When interviewing, they look for great people, who just happen to also be great professionals. Bat-El explains what else they look out for and how important these insights help to later allocate people in the right teams and projects. Here are some insights into UX-style interviews:
Could you tell me about two projects from your portfolio?
“The way people present their projects is really important, as it can tell me a lot about them, their strengths and their communication skills. In this field of design especially, even the way you present yourself is UX. When talking about your work, be articulate, concise and professional. Try to stay focused and be attentive to your listener. Hearing about projects also helps me get an understanding of how the person perceives themselves, which is a great way of gaining more insights into their way of thinking and their personality. Seeing a designer’s portfolio also shows me whether they have skills in both UI (visual design aspect) and UX (functional thinking). Here, we look for people with abilities in both fields, but that differs in every company.”
Talk me through your home assignment.
“Here, we also look at how coherent the person is in their explanation, and how they receive feedback and react to it. Try to understand the feedback as thoroughly as possible and respond to it cleverly, without getting offended. It’s understandable if you can’t think of an immediate solution, especially under the stress of an interview, so just try to answer honestly. When given a home assignment, take ownership over it and have the responsibility to ask for more time if you need it, in order to make sure you’ve done the best job that you can. You should come in feeling good about what you’ve created.”
What did you do in your previous job?
“Getting some insights into the person’s professional background helps us understand what it will be like to work with them. By asking this question, we want to find out what kind of projects they worked on, which aspects they were responsible for, whether they worked with people from other disciplines (such as product managers and developers) and whether they worked alone or in a team. There are no right or wrong answers; if they worked on their own, it could show that they had more responsibility and are independent. If they worked in a team, it could mean that they can collaborate and that they had the chance to learn from others, which is always a plus. Knowing the person’s strengths and weaknesses helps us place them in the right team where they’ll be able to contribute the most, and have others around them who can help them grow in the areas they need to.”
* Extra tips on how to structure your portfolio!
“Your portfolio is the first impression a potential employer will get of you, so think about the person that’s going to consume it. After all, your portfolio should have good UX, just like any one of your works. That means it should be clear and concise, with the projects that are most relevant to the job at the beginning. If you’re going for a UX design job, for example, don’t include just logos and web design in your portfolio. Showing your process and your thinking is also valuable, but be careful to curate it, so as not to overdo it.”
Iris Koutchmar, Head of Templates Team
Wix’s website templates are a huge and central part of the company, so having a talented, dedicated and passionate team to work on them is absolutely crucial. As well as designing the templates, Iris Koutchmar’s team is also responsible for a wide variety of visual content for other products within the company, often joining forces with the marketing department and other teams. When interviewing designers, she looks for people with complex, interesting and innovative ideas, that will contribute to the team and that she can rely on to both give and listen to advice. Hoping to keep the conversation centered around design, here are the questions she asks:
What, within design, interested you the most during your studies?
“I normally initiate a conversation about their studies (if they formally studied design), even if they finished a few years ago. It helps me get a feel for what their tendencies were at the time, what interested them the most and what changes they’ve been through since completing their studies.”
Pick a couple of your projects that you’d like to talk about, for any reason of your choice.
“Any piece of work they choose to present is legitimate. I’m interested in hearing about anything, from a project they’re proud of, to a project they don’t like, or any other aspect that is important for them to highlight. We speak in detail about the project and its concept. It’s important for me to hear about their ideas and processes, so as to understand their choices. Sometimes, the ideas they started out with are more interesting than the end results. I want to hear about the key decisions make throughout the process that altered the direction of the project. I also ask how they felt about the end result, whether it ended up as they imagined it would at the beginning, and how their experience was working with other people (professors, managers, and other designers for example).”
How do you usually approach a project?
“I often ask this question in relation to specific works in their portfolio, or just generally. I like to go in-depth, so as to understand their work process properly. It helps me discover a lot about how a project begins for different people. I put a lot of emphasis on the first stages of a project, because I believe that the most important decisions are made at this point, and I want to know how the person puts ideas together and finds inspiration.”
Why do you want to work here?
“I always ask this question, so that I can understand where the person stands at the moment and whether they’re at some kind of intersection. I ask what they’ve heard about us, whether they know our products and why they want to leave their current job. It’s important for me to understand whether the essence of the work here interests them, and if they think they’ll be fulfilled here. Of course, a large part of the interview is influenced by the information that the person gives me and where the conversation takes us. Depending on the vibe they give off and how comfortable they feel to open up, the conversation can be more or less formal. I do like to hear about them, where they live, where they were brought up and more, but it depends on the person. Generally, I want to see that the person is sincere and has a real passion for design.”