As of September 2022, there are over two thousand job adverts for web designers on the UK job site Indeed. If you’re a novice web designer hoping to get your first break, there’s never been a better time to take the plunge into this rewarding, interesting and lucrative sector.
The UK’s web design industry is worth over £575 million, and business owners are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of owning a responsive, receptive, and aesthetically pleasing website when trying to find success in a saturated digital market.
Visit Is Web Design a Good Career? to learn more.
Now, being in the job market isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, and only a sadist would say that they enjoy the interview process, but it’s a necessary step towards reaching your career goals.
Whether you’re looking for employment in a full-service web design agency or hoping to join an in-house design team, you’ll need to impress as competition can be fierce for those sought-after roles.
Read our article What Qualifications Do You Need to be a Web Designer? to make sure you’re sufficiently prepared for your first job in the industry.
A web design interview will typically test both your technical and communication skills. While the job interview format and questions will vary depending on the company, you will likely be asked a mix of technical and personal questions to give the interviewer an idea of whether you’re the right fit.
An interview can be a daunting experience no matter how long you’ve been in the industry, but it needn’t be a hellish experience.
Trust us, we’ve been there, but luckily there are tried and tested ways to ensure you present yourself in the best way possible and make a memorable first impression.
Preparation is key and feeling confident enough to answer any question thrown at you with ease can take an interview from good to great — and get you one step closer to that dream role.
Follow our tips and there’s no reason you shouldn’t perform well, and land that job.
Arguably the most important pre-interview task is researching the company you’re interviewing for, and the role itself.
It’s important that you’re clued up on the specifics of the job, and that you understand what your role would be day-to-day. Without this information, you could find yourself in an embarrassing spot once the interviewer’s questions come rolling in. It’s also a great way to be sure that the role is a good fit career-wise for you, and that it aligns with your goals.
Outside of this, you should set aside some time to take a deep dive into the company itself.
Demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to research the company’s history, culture, and work they produce shows that you’ve taken the initiative and are genuinely interested in working there. Showing that you've done some research will go a long way towards proving that you're enthusiastic about the role and will also give you more to talk about in the interview.
Familiarizing yourself with the agency or company in this way can also help you get a feel for the tone of the workplace, and help you tailor your behaviour in the interview accordingly.
Their website will be your first port of call but visit their socials too to get an insight into any current projects, events or even any award wins.
Doing some in-depth research at this stage is as beneficial for you as it is for your potential employer. Finding out whether they’re the right fit for you long before you turn up for your interview benefits everyone involved. You don’t want to waste your time and the time of the interviewer.
Read staff bios, and independent reviews, and just do all you can to get a feel for the culture of the place. You can’t find out everything this way, but you’ll at least get a feel for what it would be like working there and if it suits you and your personality.
An impressive roster of clients is one thing, but if it doesn’t seem to be a good place to work (or a good culture fit) then it may not be for you. It doesn’t need to be perfect but, if possible, try to land somewhere where you think you’ll be genuinely happy. A positive work environment is crucially important — especially in a creative role — and feeling content and supported will make you a better web designer all-round.
Visit our article How We Recruit Individuals Here at MadeByShape to see what we look for when adding to our small but perfectly formed team.
As a budding web designer, you may have the gift of the gab and impress with your personality in the first instance, but you’re not going to get hired on confidence alone. Your portfolio is your golden ticket, and an impressive one will be the key thing that lands you that dream job you’re looking for.
The interviewer may well have already seen it online when you applied initially, but now’s the time to show off.
Be prepared to talk through your past projects, how you came to each design decision and why, which web design software, platform, or tools you used, and the inspiration behind your work. Try to imagine any questions that may come up and have an answer ready. Think of a few issues that you encountered, and how you tackled them to show your critical thinking skills. You could also make note of some aspects of your past projects that you would do differently today. This shows humility, growth, and a willingness to learn from your mistakes.
Show that you’re passionate about web design and all that it entails, be clear about your thought and design processes, and be honest. Confidence is key, but don’t oversell, or worse lie (and try to pass off someone else’s work as your own). Don’t risk your credibility and put yourself in a situation where you can’t do the job to the level you’re expected to once you are in the role.
When conducting interviews for a new web designer, an interviewer may see a whole group of talented, skilled designers all with an impressive portfolio. Anything you can do to make you stand out (in a good way) is recommended and injecting as much personality as possible into the interview is a failsafe way of making yourself a more attractive prospect.
Be genuine here and don’t say that your number one interest is web design. Even if true, it’s not what the interviewer is looking for.
Try to present your character in an honest, personable, and interesting way. When you’re asked what you enjoy, don’t bore them to death with the usual answers e.g., food, films, travelling, football. Who doesn’t like travelling? Who doesn’t like food?!
Be detailed, where do you like to travel? What do you love to do while you’re there? Share an anecdote with them of a particularly memorable experience you had doing what you love. This isn’t the time to go on a twenty-minute eulogy about your deep obsession with Star Wars, but you can at least tell them your favourite film and why.
Even if the interviewer themselves doesn’t have matching interests, it’s a joy to watch someone talk about something they love. It shows you have a personality, and outside of your web design skills, it’s your most important asset.
Think and prepare a few interests to discuss ahead of time, so you don’t end up waffling.
If you’re aiming to bag a role at a smaller agency, then your personality will be even more important, as they’ll be looking for a designer that can fit seamlessly into their already perfectly curated team.
Visit The Differences Between Small Web Design Agencies and Large Web Design Agencies to learn more.
If this isn’t you, then it wasn’t meant to be, but being honest, and authentically yourself is always good advice. As tempting as it may be, don’t fall into the trap of pretending that you have a passion for something that you don’t, just because everyone else at the agency appears to. The truth will come out down the line, and frankly, will make you look pretty stupid.
While an interview is a time to show off the very best of your work, personality, and potential, it’s good to consider both your strengths and weaknesses beforehand.
When asked about your strengths, try to stick to qualities that are highly relevant to the web design role you’re applying for. Focus on your creative skills, your passion for design, your problem-solving skills, and your acute attention to detail.
When discussing your weaknesses, try to stick to any that aren’t central to working as a web designer.
This could be anything from being a perfectionist (to an extreme degree), or that you find it difficult to say no to people and take on too much work. Be smart, and describe your weaknesses as things that could objectively be described as strengths e.g. caring too much about the success of a design project. When discussing these in your interview, stay calm and collected, everyone has weaknesses so you’re not showing yourself up by admitting to them. Even better, discuss how you’re actively working on improving in the areas mentioned.
It can also be good to prepare a couple of occasions where you made a mistake in your web design work but ultimately learned from it and grew as a web designer as a result. This shows humility, an awareness and understanding of the inner workings of web design, and that you can confidently hold yourself accountable.
While you may struggle if this is your first foray into working as a web designer, think through any examples from when you were studying and training.
Make note of a few options ahead of time, so you’re ready to discuss them confidently when asked.
This seems like a no-brainer, but when interviewing be sure to present yourself in a way that puts you in the best possible stead for getting the role.
Use confident body language, look the interviewer in the eye, and try not to fidget, bite your nails nervously, or play with your hair. Simple tips, but ones that can go a long way.
In terms of your physical appearance, ensure you’re well groomed and wearing an outfit appropriate for the overall mood of the company or agency you’re interviewing for. From their website and socials, you should be able to ascertain whether you’re expected to turn up in a suit or smart dress, or if they have a more laid back, cool and casual vibe.
Your appearance is secondary to your web design skills and personality but presenting yourself in a professional manner shows a basic level of respect and shows if you’ll be a good culture fit.
One of the first things you’ll be asked is to say a little about yourself, and you’ll likely be nervous, so this isn’t something you want to throw together on the fly.
Put together a short pitch beforehand about who you are, and a brief overview of your skills and experience. Short and concise, this can set the tone of the whole interview so be sure to put it together ahead of time and practice what you’re going to say to ensure it sounds natural.
When interviewing for a role as a web designer, it’s imperative to show your passion for the industry and the role you’ll potentially be taking on.
Similar to showing personality, demonstrating that you’re passionate and enthusiastic can be the tipping point that bags you the role over another candidate.
Be eager, and show them that you want to work there. There’s no shame in going after what you want, and any good employer will appreciate your enthusiasm.
This is a good time to show the depth of your research into the company. If possible, detail how you see yourself fitting into the company's culture and how your values and goals align with those of your potential employers.
When interviewing for a web design job, it’s crucial that you sell yourself, and your skills, and demonstrate how your skills and design perspective can add value to the company.
While it’s understandable to be nervous when taking part in an interview, it’s worth remembering that you can do as much for your employer as they can do for you. The relationship you have with your employer should be mutually beneficial.
If available, tangible evidence is a great way to get this point across. Show how you have contributed to the success of any former clients by using your web design skills. This could be anything from an increase in sales or even an increase in audience reach.
If your work experience is lacking, this may be a struggle but there are other ways you can demonstrate your suitability for the role. You may be proficient in using a new design tool that could be beneficial for the company, be skilled in UI and UX design, or have a particular passion and interest in the company’s niche (if they have one).
Anything that you can discuss that shows how you can add value, and that makes you stand out from the other applicants is crucial. When making a note of these ahead of time, try to focus on qualities that are unique to you, and that will increase your chances of getting the job.
It’s impossible to know exactly what you’ll be asked in an interview, so making sure your skillset is up to date can help you think on your feet should you be asked any specific technical questions,
These could include anything from “what is responsive web design?” to “what are some design components of an optimised website?” to “what is your comfort level with HTML and CSS.”
Their questions could be more practical and include “looking at our website, what could be improved?” or “show us an example — in your opinion — of bad web design.”
More behaviour-focused questions may be “describe your ideal workday” or “what is a unique characteristic that you bring to the table?”
By asking these questions the interviewer is trying to get a feel for your workplace behaviour, your skill and comfort level with the technical aspects of web design, and how you tackle design-related queries off the cuff.
If there are any areas of web design where you know your knowledge is lacking, study ahead of time to give yourself the best chance of making a good impression.
Throughout, or possibly towards the end of the interview, you’ll most likely be asked if you have any questions. This is a great way to find out more about the position, and the company that you could potentially end up working for.
Having some prepared shows that you are genuinely interested and have a real enthusiasm for taking on the role. It also demonstrates strong critical thinking on your part if you’re trying to ascertain whether you’re a good fit for the job and if the company culture will suit your needs.
Make a note of any obvious questions before the interview, but don’t be afraid to note any down while it’s taking place if anything comes up.
While not always appropriate, if the opportunity arises this is a good time to discuss some of the practicalities of the role e.g., working hours, whether you’ll be expected to work in-office full time or if flexible working is a possibility, and salary expectations.
If your location or any personal commitments require you to work from home all — or even just some— of the time, then your potential employer needs to be made aware of this at this stage.
While you should have been given an idea of salary when applying for the role, it’s worth researching what you can expect to earn as a web designer of your level, in your location, and what is a fair offer.
Demanding a ludicrously high salary isn’t going to do you any favours, but equally bad would be selling yourself short and working for less than you’re worth. It’s important to be open to negotiation but stand firm with your bottom line. By being informed and pragmatic, you should be able to find a number that suits both you and your potential employer.
Discussing money can be awkward, but it’s important that you know what to expect, and that your potential employer knows what you are happy to work for before any further commitments are made.
A simple tip, but one that is often skipped, is following up after an interview.
Send a simple email thanking them for their time and reattach your application and CV so it’s readily available should they need to refer to it. Reaching out in this way shows that you’re professional and respectful and that you appreciate their time. It may also have the bonus of helping you stay in the forefront of their mind when making their final decision! Now is also the time to ask any final questions you may have forgotten to ask during the interview.
You should have been given a rough time frame of when you can expect to hear back about the role, good or bad, but if you don’t hear anything simply follow up. If you’ve got the job, or are moving to another stage of the process you can find out what you need to do next. If you weren’t right for the role this time around, thank them again for their time and try to garner some feedback on ways you could improve in the future.
If you were particularly invested in working for the company, let them know of your disappointment (in a professional manner) and ask politely that they keep you in mind for any opportunities that come up in the future.
The interview process can be undeniably daunting, no matter how experienced you are, or the industry you work in, but following our tips you can give yourself the best possible chance of blagging that dream web design role.
To stay inspired, and motivated, and to get an idea of what it could be like working for a stellar web design agency, read our article on The Best Web Design Agencies to work for in the UK and get an inside look into the UK agencies that make their employees wellbeing a priority.
Find out How we recruit individuals here at MadeByShape to discover how we've curated a team of talented creatives that make the agency what it is today.