Graphic Designer Interview Questions
Graphic designers create and arrange text and images as part of a company’s marketing and online presence. They work primarily through digital mediums and are in charge of making sure a particular image is created for the company they are contracted to work for. This is typically done for creative designs such as logos, webpages, magazines, books, and mail publications. Graphic designers often work with marketers to create drafts and mold them to fit the company’s expectations.
A graphic designer is responsible for:
- Taking direction from marketers
- Designing various forms of web content and published content
- Producing drafts to be reviewed by superiors
- Working in a team environment toward a mutual goal
- Using various computer programs to create material and staying up to date with relevant advances in software
A graphic designer’s skills include:
- Computer literacy and familiarity with programs such as Adobe Creative Suite
- Good interpersonal skills and the ability to work as part of a team
- Meeting with clients and interpreting their vision for the work to be done
- Incorporating or updating previous company material to reflect the current vision for the company
- Meeting strict deadlines and standards consistently
A graphic designer is typically required to have a bachelor’s degree in graphic design from an accredited university or art institute as well as a portfolio of work from previous jobs or internships.
However, a bachelor’s degree may not be specifically required for certain positions due to the availability of online courses. Freelance work can also be used to create a portfolio or bolster an existing one. Regardless of whether a candidate has completed a formal course or is self-taught, skills in computer assisted design (CAD) are required.
Salaries for graphic designers range between $48K and $75K with the median being $61K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as a graphic designer include:
- Degrees (apprenticeship certificates, associate's, bachelor's, master's)
- Previous Designs and Awards
- Reporting Structure (seniority of the manager you report to and number of any direct reports)
- Level of Performance - exceeding expectations
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Graphic Designer Interview Questions
Question: What influenced your decision to pursue a career as a graphic designer?
Explanation: This is a typical opening question which the interviewer will ask to begin the conversation, learn more about your background, and collect information they can use for additional questions. This provides you the opportunity to present the narrative of your career and move the interview in a direction you are comfortable discussing.
Example: “I've always enjoyed drawing and creating unique designs. I began formally studying graphic design while still in high school. My education carried over into college, where I chose graphic design as my major. I’ve worked on a variety of different design projects, including those I completed for my coursework and during my internships. The world of graphic design offers endless possibilities, and I can’t think of anything else I’d rather be doing.
Question: What are the essential characteristics of a good graphics designer?
Explanation: By asking this type of question, the interviewer is interested in your priorities about the qualities you think are essential as a graphic designer. You can prepare for questions like this by conducting pre-interview research to determine the type of design work the organization performs and some of the projects they have produced. Your answer should align with the organization's style and the type of work they do.
Example: “The most important characteristic a graphic designer should possess is creativity and the ability to innovate. Anybody can produce designs that have already been done or fit contemporary styles. Great designers come up with something new and set the trend rather than follow it. Designers also need to be attentive to detail, have an understanding of a variety of different subject areas, and need to be able to take criticism as well as praise.”
Question: Can you describe a recent design campaign you were impressed by and discuss what you liked about it?
Explanation: The interviewer will ask this question to better understand your tastes and the types of designs you prefer. Again, having done your pre-interview research, you should be able to cite examples that match the design styles and projects produced by the organization with whom you are interviewing.
Example: “The recent design campaign I am very impressed with is the one created for Tesla. Its clean lines, modern images, understated luxury, and futuristic look all appeal to me. The Tesla campaign is very similar to the designs your organization created for Dyson. I enjoy working on campaigns that require innovative and clean designs with a very modern look to them.”
Question: Tell me about a design project you enjoyed working on, describing why you prefer this type of work.
Explanation: This is another question in which the interviewer is seeking to understand your style and the type of design work you like to do. You can continue to reference styles and designs which align with the company, or you can take a radically different approach and talk about something that is innovative which would contribute to the company moving in a slightly different direction or acquiring new clients.
Example: “One of my favorite projects for which I created some unique designs was for a company that makes kitchen appliances. The company’s designs were very sleek and modern and aligned well with my personal preferences. I was able to create images that highlighted the product’s unique features as well as their innovative design. I also incorporated the company’s logos into my designs and used similar fonts, colors, and design elements.”
Question: Where does your inspiration for the designs you develop come from?
Explanation: The interviewer is continuing to ask questions which will tell them something about your background and help them better understand your inspiration, style, and design preferences. Probably more than any other role, a graphic designer should be well aligned with the styles and preferences of the organization for which they work. Companies will hire consultants or external designers if they are thinking about taking a new direction and need input to help guide them.
Example: “The inspiration for my designs comes directly from nature. I’ve always enjoyed hiking and spending time outdoors. I’m very attentive to detail and become inspired by the designs of natural objects. These include the outline and veins within a leaf, the way water reacts when you throw a pebble into a lake, the clean line of a mountain ridge, and the complex designs within tree bark.”
Question: Would you consider yourself a team player, or do you prefer to work alone?
Explanation: This is an operational question. The interviewer is seeking to understand whether you’re able to collaborate with other design team members or prefer to work alone with little input. Both are valid, but the right answer to this question is the one that aligns with the working conditions within the organization. You can usually discover these by reviewing the job posting and searching on the internet for comments from the company’s current or previous employees.
Example: “Although I do most of my work alone, I enjoy projects where I am a member of a team collaborating to produce a unique and innovative design. I always learn a great deal when working as part of a team, and I believe I contribute as much as I gain. Working as part of a team requires good communication skills, the ability to negotiate, and willingness to compromise. I am extremely comfortable with this and believe that my co-workers and management would identify me as a good team player.”
Question: What do you do when you are assigned a project with a short deadline?
Explanation: Working under tight deadlines is typical for many graphic design projects. Companies often need new designs or changes to their existing designs to meet an urgent production deadline. Although a graphic designer’s work is creative, it contributes to a business objective and must be done within the timelines provided by the organization. Being able to accommodate this is a crucial skill a graphic designer needs to possess.
Example: “I am not intimidated by short deadlines or urgent requirements for a design. Although I prefer to take my time when creating a new design and allow for the creative process to proceed, I understand that sometimes this is impossible. I will admit that I don’t do my best work under tight deadlines, but I am always able to produce designs that meet the criteria and satisfy the business needs of the organization.”
Question: What types of design projects do you prefer to work on?
Explanation: You may recognize this as a question similar to the ones you’ve already been asked. Interviewers will ask similar questions throughout an interview to calibrate your answers and make sure you are consistent. You should continue to answer these questions the same way you responded to the previous ones. As long as you’re honest and forthright, this should not be an issue.
Example: “The type of design project I prefer to work on involves contemporary products with sleek, modern designs and clean lines. I’m able to incorporate this style into my work so that the designs I create align well with the products they represent. I also prefer projects with a long-term horizon so I can use the entire creative process to create, alter, and finalize my designs well ahead of the due date. I enjoy working on projects with other members of the design team, collaborating with them to create innovative and unique designs.”
Question: Can you discuss a mistake you’ve made as a graphic designer and what you learned from it?
Explanation: Being able to discuss your mistakes and the lessons you learned from them is a critical quality for any professional. As a graphic designer, you have probably made some mistakes or produced a design that didn’t align with the customer’s requirements. Many people operate under the credo that there are no such things as mistakes, only lessons. Making a mistake is okay as long as you are able to correct it and learn a lesson which improves your skills.
Example: “During my career as a graphic designer, I’ve made several mistakes. Some of them were design related, while others were process related. Fortunately, I was able to correct many, if not all, of them. No matter what type of mistake I made or whether I was able to correct it, I always learned a lesson and incorporated the learning experience into my future work.”
Question: If you weren’t working as a graphic designer, what type of work would you be doing?
Explanation: The interviewer will ask this type of question to determine what your outside interests are. You should feel free to answer this question truthfully with real examples of what you do when you’re not working. Keep in mind that the significant part of the interview is to determine whether you will be a good fit for the organization. Having outside interests rounds you out as an employee. Your interests may also align with those of the interviewer or other members of the organization and result in them preferring you over another candidate with similar skills or experience.
Example: “When I am not working as a graphic designer, I enjoy spending time outdoors. Activities I participate in include hiking, camping, fishing, and golf. Anything that gets me outside and doing an activity that doesn’t require me to concentrate on the specific details is something I enjoy. I try to maintain a good work-life balance. Work provides me with a lifestyle, and my lifestyle contributes to the quality of the work that I do.”
Additional Graphic Designer Interview Questions
What computer programs have you used in your work?
Which software programs do you find most effective to work with?
What steps do you take when beginning a project to make sure it fits the client’s vision?
Do you work better by yourself or with a team?
How do you handle criticism from a client?
Describe a time you disagreed with a client’s criticism. How did you approach them about it?
How do you stay up to date with current software and industry trends in your field?
How well do you work under pressure?
What do you think is the most valuable skill you bring to your work?
Describe your education and industry experience. How have they differed?
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