Design Thinking Interview: Exercise + Product Critique

Interview method to get candidates away from scripted process and be able to see how they think and collaborate with the team first hand.


90 minutes


Hiring manager, designer, product manager


  1. Pick key areas of your product that even a first time. Suggestions: Home, Search, Onboarding, Reading, Navigation, Notifications, Common Consumer Features ( cart).
  2. Define the design brief of the exercise. Include:
    1. Outline the ask (Tip: focus more on broad directions), what success looks like, and scope
    2. Provide key data points and anecdotes
  3. Create a Figma board (or an alternative digital whiteboard). Include:
    1. Primary flow of product
    2. Reiteration of instructions provided in email
    3. Design brief
    4. Space for problem definition and solution ideation


    • Expectations to communicate visually - sketch and use Figma

Day Before Interview Send email that includes product credentials, link to product, and Figma link

Day of Interview Answer any questions the candidate noted in Figma, if applicable.

Expectation Setting

INSTRUCTIONS: We’ll be conducting a digital whiteboard exercise where your goal is to design a single directional solution for the given opportunity within an hour.



  1. Introduction of the brief and clarifying questions with hiring manager [10m]
  2. Individual Time [20m]
  3. Check-in with panel [10m]
  4. Riff together [20m]
  5. Final Check-in [10m]
  6. Questions from candidate [20m]

Panel Tips

Panel Questions to Ask / Statements

Email Templates

Design Exercise Invite

Hi {Candidate Name},

We really enjoyed learning more about your design process and the team was very impressed. We’re excited to invite you to our final round interview, which is an exercise to improve part of our product. 

The exercise will be done completely in real-time and attempt to recreate a whiteboard experience as much as possible. It will be a mixture of individual effort and group collaboration to avoid homework - you’ll lead the collaboration but we encourage you to leverage us as much as possible. It will include the hiring manager along with 1-2 designers, and {PM / Product Leader}. Lastly, we’ll be specifically looking to understand how you think through new problems and how we collaborate together - we will not be grading the solution. 

We'll provide the focus area for the exercise details one day in advance to limit the desire to do homework. We’ll also provide access to the product ahead of time so you can get to know our product a little better.

When is a good time for you for the hour and a half for the design exercise {next week}?

Looking forward to hearing from you,


Day Before Reminder & Additional Info

Hi {Candidate Name},

We’re excited to have you join us tomorrow to run through our design exercise together. The interview will be a digital whiteboard exercise where you’ll lead us through your approach to solving our design brief within the hour. The last 30 minutes will be for questions.

To prepare for the exercise, we’ve created a Figma file for us to work through. The file includes screenshots of the primary flow of our client users and the design brief. The focus of the brief is to reimagine our Homepage to be a more engaging destination. Please take 5-10 minutes to review the screenshots as a reference to acclimate yourself to our product and review the full details in the brief. **The brief includes important details you don’t want to miss, including an outline of the schedule.**

In addition to the screenshots, we’ve created a staging login for you to check out our product on our on time. There are no expectations that you considerable time in here and it’s more of a reference for you to understand where our maturity is at and inspire questions.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Figma File: {Figma File Link}

{Product Link}
Username: {Username}
Password: {Password}


Instructions to Evaluators

For this round, we’ll all go through the exercise together of improving part of our product with the candidate.

We’ll decide the focus area for the exercise ahead of time and that should be communicated to all evaluators.


Other Evaluative Questions to Answer