[Step 2]: Design Challenge (1 week)
Ah yes, the dreaded Design Challenge. Many companies are beginning to include this step in their interview processes — and for good reason! There’s a lot one can glean from a candidate in an accelerated amount of time, whether that be 45 minutes in-person or over a few days remotely. For Google, it’s the latter: you are given one week to complete the challenge upon receiving the email with the brief.
While I won’t disclose the exact brief here (feel free to reach out to me privately if you’d like more details), I’ll share a general overview of my experience. Basically, I was given the description of an imaginary situation where I was the designer in charge of a certain project. With the parameters provided, I could choose one of three ways to tackle the brief.
Here are some general tips on what I personally recommend while undergoing this portion, based on my experience:
1. There is no right answer.
As with most design challenges, the focus of the exercise is less on the “final” execution and more on the thought process and design decisions made throughout it. When in doubt, a condensed version of the general UX design process should be a great framework to approach your solution.
2. Don’t design in a silo.
Even though 7 days can be a short period of time to get a full-on user testing or interview session running, try your best to get as much external feedback throughout your design process! One of the most important core principles of UX lies in user insights, so it’s a huge plus if you’re able to document and showcase in a short design sprint.
3. Manage your time well.
The biggest challenge for me during my Design Challenge wasn’t actually the exercise itself, but more about the timing of when I had to complete it. I happened to receive the brief during a particularly loaded school week, so managing working on the exercise on top of everything else was definitely a test of time management. Keep in mind, you can ask your recruiter for extensions if there are more serious circumstances that you can’t work around!
4. Consider the flow and structure of the presentation.
Similar to how the structure of a case study can make or break a project — the same goes for the flow and structure of your deck/presentation/slideshow/etc. Keep in mind that your Design Challenge might be shared remotely with other internal Googlers, so make sure you provide adequate context in case someone looks through your presentation without you being there to speak through it.
5. Do more than they ask for! (if time allows)
Though the brief does ask for a few hard deliverables, what I found to be helpful during this challenge was to take a step back and think about the holistic picture of what you’re designing. It’s one thing to create a few pixel-perfect hi-fidelity wireframes, but oftentimes what makes a project more compelling is also considering the entire ecosystem of where the product/service resides.