The application process
The days flew by and internship season was here. I had worked hard and was ready for game day. After around 6 weeks of interviewing with various product companies, I was SO proud and excited to have qualified for final round interviews at some of the major companies and products I looked up to. Out of these, one of them was Lyft.
The interviews were a great catalyst for self-clarity as they challenged me to look inward and answer questions about my process, inspirations, goals and values. This really solidified my understanding of who I was as a designer.
Lyft’s interview process had 3 parts. An initial recruiter screening was followed by a phone interview with a designer at Lyft. Successfully passing these led to the final round which was an onsite interview in the SF headquarters (woohoo!).
I know a lot of you are curious about on sites and how they work. I will do my best to break down my personal experience with the onsite interview at Lyft.
This is strictly based on my personal experience, and might not be the same for everyone.
Planning and arrangements
In about 3 days after my phone interview, my recruiter reached out to me with the exciting news that I had made it to the onsite interview round. I was then given a brief break down of the next steps on how this would all work. After selecting a target date for the interview I was given the freedom to plan my trip through Lyft’s partner travel agent. This included round-trip air travel and hotel selection.
In transit | day 1
The trip started on a very adventurous note. Due to bad weather, I spent nearly the entire day at the Rochester airport figuring out how to get to SF on time. I took a flight going to Philadelphia where I landed the night the Eagles won the Superbowl 🏆. The adventure merely begins here, but that is a story I will save for a coffee walk or possibly a bonfire. The takeaway though, from all this is that through all the unforeseeable hiccups, my recruiter was constantly in communication and worked with me to figure out the best possible solution throughout the journey. Also, Philly got pretty wild that night!
San Francisco | day 2
My originally scheduled interview was now pushed back a day allowing me to explore this amazing city. The weather was fantastic, the food was delicious and the spectacular hillside views immediately made up for all the action from the previous day.
The interview | day 3
Finally, the day was here. I headed over to the HQ after some quick breakfast. The office was wonderfully located by the mission bay channel and offered some great views. After checking in I was oriented about the day’s plan which looked something like this.
11:00–11:30 am — Presentation to the panel of designers listed below
11:30–12:00 pm —Past Work
12:00–1:00 pm— Lunch + Tour
1:00–1:30 pm — Design Challenge
1:30–2:00 pm — Casual Chat
2:00–2:30 pm— Critique
Project Presentation | 11:00–11:30 am
After the quick orientation, I was led to my first interview room to kick things off with my 30 min project presentation to a panel of 4 designers who I would be individually interviewing with later. I had really worked hard on this presentation and felt both proud and confident as I began. My goal for this round was to give them an understanding of my values and identity as a designer.
Tip: Tell a compelling and engaging story while breaking down your process, learnings, and decisions. Don’t be afraid to add humor/personality to your presentation as it helps break the monotony (my thing is dad jokes!).
Past Work | 11:30–12:00 pm
This round was a little more casual in nature. We had a conversation about a few past projects that I had done and what motivated me to do them. We discussed favorite tools, inspirations, references and more. This round was designed to get a better understanding of my skill set and familiarity with design tools and practices. I also had the chance to talk to the interviewer about the work they were doing at Lyft, their journey as a designer among other topics. This conversation really made me begin to feel more comfortable in the space.
Lunch + Tour | 12:00–1:00 pm
A well-timed break where I got a fun tour of the amazing office space after a delicious buffet lunch (The coconut curry shrimp was splendid).
Design Challenge | 1:00–1:30 pm
Oh, the good old whiteboard design challenge…. This round tests a designer’s ability to critically break down a complex design problem on the spot. The interviewer took the first 5 minutes to brief me on the problem, asked me to consider this as a collaborative problem-solving session and encouraged me to think out loud. I believe this was my strongest round this onsite. Below are a couple of things I believe I did right and would recommend any applicant to consider.
- Be true to your design process as you begin to chip away at the problem
- Do not jump to solutions, your process is being tested here and how you get to your solutions
- Ask the important questions to eliminate assumptions
- Take time to identify the users and their needs early on in the process and use that as a guideline to work towards your solution
- Include the interviewer in the process and give them a clear understanding of how you’re thinking
- Rapid whiteboard sketching while communicating and considering ideas helps tremendously during ideation
- Be energetic and active during this session! It’s a great way to show your passion for the work and be engaged with the process.
Casual Chat | 1:30–2:00 pm
This round was a much needed breather after the whiteboard challenge. The interviewer asked me about how I was feeling at this point and what I thought of my experience so far. We then spoke about my presentation as he took some time to give me feedback and ask a couple of follow up questions about the project. I also took this time to ask him about what the role of the product design intern would be along with a couple of questions about the various design teams and how they were organized. This round concluded with a few questions about my future goals and plans.
Tip: Keep in mind, casual chats are often a good way to see if you’re a good fit for the team and the people you will potentially be working with.
App Critique | 2:00–2:30 pm
The app critique was another really fun one for me. As product designers, we are constantly giving and receiving feedback and critique from our peers and coworkers. Being able to give sound design feedback adds major value to a designer. Much like the design challenge, I stuck to my process here. It was important for me to keep this round conversational and collaborative as I treated it just like a peer crit session. This allowed me to be more fluid and conversational in the process.
Fast forward 1 week… I was back in school when I heard back from my recruiter. I was offered the position and was given around 2 weeks to get back to her with my decision. I had to try super hard to contain my excitement at this point as I began making a list of reasons why Lyft was a great fit for me. By the end of it, I knew this was what I wanted. Here are a couple of major points from that list.
1.Inspiring company mission🌟
I was extremely drawn to the company’s stance on social and global issues. Striving to build a better world and doing good through innovation and technology really resonated with me.
2.Passion for transportation and cities 🚗 🛴 💚
Cars spend over 90 percent of their lifetime parked and occupying valuable space in our cities. I believe shared transportation systems are a way to solve this problem and help build cities around people and not cars (as the founders would say). This would lead to greener, safer and better cities. Being able to contribute to this cause had me really excited!
3.Design-driven company 🚀
As a design-centric company, Lyft really cares about and prioritizes designing valuable experiences for its users. This practice makes it a great place for designers to thrive.
4. Great vibe 💖
The entire onsite interview process had me feeling really excited about Lyft. Everything, from the people to the potential projects was all I hoped for and more. Getting a chance to actually visit the HQ and experience SF for the first time made me definitely feel like coming back.