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Questions to ask your potential employer during interviews

Cookie-cutter questions are not enough because any interviewer worth their salt would be quick to spot these.

UX/UI Design
5 minute read

As a cynical candidate fresh out of college, I used to believe that the part of the interview where I got to ask questions was just a formality, a way for companies to give the impression that I have a voice, where in reality the balance of power lies heavily on the other side.

So, as long as I delivered some cookie-cutter questions to which I could hear some cookie-cutter answers, the job was mine.

Now that I’ve been on both sides of the interview table, in multiple roles, I couldn’t disagree more.

On one level, they’ll give you a sense of what it might be like to work at this place. On a deeper level, they let you gauge the strengths and weaknesses of the team, the kind of work you’d be doing, the rewards you could expect for hard work, prospects for work-life balance, team culture and more.

For the employer, it’s a chance to unveil the things you care about in the new job, the way you think and to understand you better so they can fine-tune their call about whether or not you’re a risky hire.

Cookie-cutter questions are not enough because any interviewer worth their salt would be quick to spot these.

So let’s see what other questions you can use.

Understanding the company’s UX maturity

  1. How empowered is the UX design department relative to other functions in the larger organisational structure?
  2. What or who drives the product roadmap? Is it HIPPO (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion)-driven or do ideas regularly come from anywhere and are explored and sometimes, built?
  3. What is the primary function of research - is it to validate product ideas or is it about discovering customer problems before product ideas can be formed?
  4. To what extent does the leadership understand the importance and ROI (Return on Investment) of good UX? Should I expect to work hard to get a seat at the table?
  5. What options do we have for research and accessing users and user data? Are there clear analytics, recordings or other data sources? Do we have defined KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)?
  6. How often do non-design stakeholders attend user research sessions or review findings?

Questions for Career Growth

  1. What are the expectations and achievements I should aim for over the first 90 days? What would make you say "I'm so happy we hired <your name>"?
  2. What are the traits and skills that would make me successful in this role?
  3. What metrics would you use to measure success in this role?
  4. When was the last time the team celebrated success and what did it look like?

Questions to understand the day-to-day

  1. If you could perform magic, what current problem in the product would you solve right away?
  2. What stage is the team at - setting up a new team or filling a vacancy?
  3. What are the biggest challenges the team faces at the moment?
  4. What are the current strengths and weaknesses of your design team?


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Collaboration questions

  1. What is the ratio of UX designers to PMs to developers?
  2. What is the UX culture like: does design share ownership with the product, or is it mostly owned by product/engineering?
  3. Who are the stakeholders I will work with on a day-to-day basis?
  4. Are the developers in-house? Are they located in the same building/country?

Additional questions to ask if you’re joining as the first or an early designer for a startup

  1. Why do you want to hire a designer?
  2. Why now?
  3. Who has been doing UX until now?

If some of them seem slightly repetitive, it’s because they are.

The idea is to shift the perspective just a bit so that the interviewer is compelled to think and engage, and you get more than just well-rehearsed answers.

Wrapping up

As an interviewer, I always pay attention to the kind of questions I get from a candidate. As a candidate, I always pay attention to the answers I receive.

Asking the right questions improves your chances of getting an offer, and it lets you evaluate whether the new job would tick off the right boxes for you.

Ask as many questions from the interviewers as you can. Ask to meet relevant stakeholders who aren’t part of the interviews, thank them for their time and then ask them the same questions. It’s always useful to have different perspectives. All the best!