How to prepare for your design system interview role

If you're on the hunt for a job in the design system field, congratulations! This is an exciting and growing career path, and there are plenty of new opportunities out there. In order to secure your dream job, you're going to need to nail the interview process. From understanding the responsibilities of the role to familiarizing yourself with design system management tools, we'll be sharing some tips and advice on how to prepare for your design system interview role. 

1. Understanding the Design System Role and its Responsibilities

Before preparing for your interview, have a solid understanding of what the specific design system role entails. Design system roles can vary from company to company, but generally, it involves the creation, maintenance, and management of a company's design system. This involves collaborating with cross-functional teams, creating and implementing guidelines, and conducting user research to inform systems decisions.

A key aspect of excelling in a design systems role lies in adopting Systems Thinking, which encompasses both a mindset and a process. From a mindset perspective, Systems Thinking involves grasping the bigger picture and recognizing the interdependence of all components within the system. It is about comprehending and executing on how each part contributes to the overall success. From a process standpoint, Systems Thinking requires analyzing and configuring the relationships between various elements to ensure the entire system functions harmoniously, leading to successful outcomes.

2. Familiarizing Yourself with the Company's Design System and Products

A crucial step in preparing for your design system interview is immersing yourself in the company's design philosophy and product offerings. Dedicate ample time to researching their existing design system and exploring their range of products. By doing so, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of their approach to product development, the methods they employ to facilitate collaboration and contribution, and the systems they utilize to deliver projects to production.

This knowledge will not only highlight your enthusiasm for the role but also allow you to identify how your unique skills and experience can seamlessly integrate with their established system. By aligning your expertise with their design principles, you can position yourself as a valuable asset and illustrate how your contributions will contribute to the continued success of their products.

3. Reviewing and Understanding the Company's Design Guidelines and Principles

It's essential to be well-versed in the design guidelines and principles that companies follow as these form the foundation of the design system. Depending on the company's maturity, they may have publicly accessible design systems or detailed case studies to explore and research. If available, resources like Figma files for designers or copyable Git Repositories for engineers should be analyzed to gain valuable insights. Designers can dissect the UI Kit and experiment with components, while engineers can clone the Git Repository and navigate through the code to understand the system's inner workings.

By immersing yourself in these guidelines and principles, you'll gain an appreciation of the design system's architecture and development methodologies. During the interview, be ready to share specific examples of how you've applied similar principles in previous work experiences to prove your ability to adapt and align your expertise with the company's established design standards.

4. Familiarizing Yourself with Design System Management Tools Like Figma, Knapsack, Storybook, Zeroheight, Sketch, Adobe XD, etc.

As a design system candidate, it's smart to be aware of the top design system management tools like Figma, Knapsack, Zeroheight, Sketch, and Adobe XD. Familiarize yourself with these tools in advance, as some likely play a huge role in creating and maintaining the company's design system.

Staying up to date with the latest advances in the design system space is essential. Continuously seek knowledge about the latest strategies, methodologies, platforms, and tools.  Showcase your expertise by providing examples of your work with reusable components, symbols, and style guides. Being well-informed about industry trends demonstrates your commitment to growth and improvement in the field of design systems.

5. Understanding the Role of Cross-Functional Collaboration and Community in Design Systems

In addition to evaluating design system platforms and tools, an essential consideration is building or being part of a specialized team. Collaborating with individuals who bring diverse expertise and perspectives is important for effectively navigating the complexities of the design system role. Building strong relationships across various functions of the organization ensures seamless coordination and a comprehensive understanding of design system requirements. Design systems are a collaborative effort that involves working with developers, designers, product managers, and other stakeholders. Be prepared to detail your past experiences in cross-functional collaboration and how you tackled communication and collaboration challenges to drive successful outcomes.

Another pivotal aspect of any design systems role is curating and fostering a vibrant design system community within your organization. Encouraging and rewarding design system evangelists across product teams can lead to a more unified and consistent approach to design. This community-building effort promotes knowledge sharing, establishes best practices, and accelerates the growth and refinement of the design system.

6. Preparing Examples of Design Systems You have Worked on and the Challenges You Faced

Preparing concrete examples of the design systems you've worked on and the challenges you encountered will serve as a powerful testament to your capabilities in creating and maintaining design systems, collaborating with diverse teams, and tackling complex issues head-on. During the interview, use these examples to explain your decision-making process and how your solutions contributed to the overall success of the design systems.

By presenting real-world scenarios, you can exhibit hands-on experience in navigating the intricacies of design systems. Discuss how you addressed specific challenges, such as ensuring consistency across different products or accommodating diverse design requirements. And don't hesitate to share insights into the collaborative aspects of your work. Emphasize your ability to effectively communicate with cross-functional teams and align design decisions with the broader organizational goals.

Remember, your examples and how you articulate them during the interview will serve as a powerful reflection of your skills, problem-solving abilities, and overall suitability for the design system role.

7. Understanding the Role of User Research and Testing in Design Systems

User research and testing play a fundamental role in ensuring that design systems meet users' needs and expectations.  As a design system candidate, having a good grasp of these processes and how they are incorporated into the design system workflow will be helpful. Be able to give examples of how you've conducted user research and testing to gather valuable feedback and data and how these insights led to improvements in the design system's usability and overall user experience.

During the interview, be ready to showcase your ability to interpret user insights and translate them into actionable design guidelines and best practices. Demonstrate how you've iteratively tested and refined the design system to align with user preferences and behaviors. This emphasis on user needs and feedback reflects your dedication to delivering design solutions that resonate with users and contribute to the success of the overall product or service.

8. Understanding the Role of Accessibility and Inclusivity in Design Systems

Recognizing that accessibility is an essential piece of a successful design system is important for any candidate. During the interview, provide examples of how you've created accessible design systems and how these principles were incorporated into the final product. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Show how you've integrated vital accessibility features like clear and consistent navigation, contrast adjustments, and support for assistive technologies.
  • Highlight your expertise in accessibility guidelines like WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and share how you've diligently applied them to your design system. 
  • Illustrate your commitment to accessibility by citing instances where you conducted accessibility audits or collaborated with experts in the field.

By providing real examples of how you've championed accessibility in your design systems, you'll express your commitment to creating products that are welcoming for all users. Your focus on this reflects your prioritization of the diverse needs of all audiences and contributes to a more inclusive digital landscape.

9. Preparing Examples of How You Have Improved and Iterated on Existing Design Systems

Design systems are always evolving, and as a design system candidate, you should be well-versed in how to improve and iterate on existing design systems. Be ready to illustrate how you've identified areas for improvement in existing design systems and how you've continuously improved upon and scaled a design system.

You can do this during the interview by explaining your approach to assessing design systems, emphasizing thorough evaluations to pinpoint optimization opportunities while gathering feedback from users and cross-functional teams to inform your iterative process. Share specific examples of notable improvements you've made, such as refining design components for enhanced usability, streamlining guidelines for increased clarity, and ensuring overall consistency across various products. Additionally, talk about your adaptability in handling design system scalability, bringing up instances where you effectively scaled the system to accommodate growth.

By demonstrating your expertise in improving and iterating on design systems, you will position yourself as a valuable asset to any organization seeking a forward-thinking and skilled design system professional.


Preparing for a design system interview requires a comprehensive understanding of the role's responsibilities, the company's design system, and its products. By embracing Systems Thinking and fostering cross-functional collaboration, design system candidates can position themselves as valuable assets to any organization. Proficiency in design system management tools, user research, accessibility, and inclusivity will further reflect your ability to deliver more interesting and accessible user experiences. Preparing concrete examples of past design system work and the ability to overcome challenges and iterate for improvement will showcase your expertise. As the field of design systems continues to evolve, candidates who embrace continuous improvement and collaboration will undoubtedly contribute to the success and innovation of design systems in the future. Good luck!

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