Earlier this week we talked about being on the job hunt after graduating from a design bootcamp. Today we’re going to focus on what happens once you get past the mysterious screening algorithm and land an interview.
During the interview
Step 1: Own your story
You probably had a career before you decided to transition to design and go to a bootcamp. Interviewers want to know what led you do to make such a big decision. Developing your narrative helps your interviewers understand your motivations and demonstrates your passion for design.
Additionally, many of the skills you used before going into design can be valuable assets! Maybe your last job before bootcamp emphasized written communication — a must-have skill when expressing your design ideas. Or maybe your job was doing medical research. A huge part of design is being able to craft and execute experiments, so your past can benefit your present.
You may event want to look for jobs that maybe overlap with your old industry, because you’ll be able to talk about the experiences and pain points of your users. For example, Daniel Kuether worked in real estate for 10 years before going to a bootcamp. Although he would have been happy to work in any industry, that real-world experience helped him get his role at UI/UX designer at VERO, which provides a leasing app for landlords and renters.
Step 2: Be able to explain your thought process
Interviewers know that you haven’t had a chance — yet — to complete any projects in a cross-functional team. What they’re looking for is that you can explain how you made decisions, worked with others, and followed a framework for completing the project. Interviewers really want to know how you think.
“For design bootcamp grads, the thing I really look for is how they approach problem-solving, even if it’s an abstract project they did in a bootcamp.”
- Jean-Bertrand Uwilingiyimana, Senior Product Designer at Pico
Step 3: Ask questions
With new bootcamp grads, companies are hiring for potential. The interviewers know that there’s only so much someone can learn in a bootcamp. With this in mind, interviewers are looking for folks who can articulate what they don’t know but express an eagerness to learn.
If and when you start the job, you’re going to need to ask a ton of questions and seek help, so interviewers want to know you’re not afraid to do so. They also want to know that given the chance, you’re ready and willing to get up to speed on anything you don’t know just yet.
Bonus points: Do your homework
Most companies don’t expect you to know the ins and outs of their organization. After all, you don’t work there! But they do want to see that you’ve done some research on who they are, what they do, and what kinds of customers they serve. Being able to ask intelligent questions about the company’s goals and opportunities will set you apart from the crowd.
Plus, doing some due diligence on the company will tell you a little bit about their design and culture. If a company’s website doesn’t demonstrate strong design, then the company might not be the right fit for you.
If you’re nervous about your interviewing skills, connect with a Merit mentor who can give you a mock interview and provide feedback.