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Interior Designer Interview
Questions

30 Questions and Answers by Rachelle Enns
Updated July 5th, 2020 | Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.
Job Interviews     Careers     Architecture    

Question 1 of 30

What do you love most about the interior design profession?

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Answer Examples

1.

What do you love most about the interior design profession?

The interviewer wants to hear all about the passion that you bring to your career as an Interior Designer. Think about what makes you the happiest on a day-to-day basis and what keeps you motivated to deliver an exceptional design. Share what you love, and let your passion shine through!

Rachelle's Answer

"What I love about being an Interior Designer is that no day looks the same. One day I may be in a designer home goods store picking out throw pillows, and the next, I am checking out paint and fabric samples. I spend my days making spaces visually appealing, and what's not to love about that! I get to meet new people and hear about the vision that they have for their work or living spaces. Then, I get to make it happen. I love to witness ideas unfold as I work to achieve my clients' design goals. This career allows me to use my creative mind while also encouraging the analytical side of my thinking as I ensure balance in every design. It is my pleasure to bring color and life into other people's spaces."

2.

Tell me about a design project that did not turn out as expected. What were the contributing factors, and how did you ensure a positive result?

The interviewer wants you to tell a story of a time when you recognized that a project was off track, and you were able to recover the situation.

For 'Tell me about...' interview questions, try delivering a response by using the STAR interview technique. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Result. The STAR approach will help you to form an engaging story that is easy for the interviewer to follow.

Discuss some detail of the project and situation. Include what you believe contributed to the unexpected project result. Mention the action steps that you took, and then the overall positive impact. Discuss how you made efforts to align communication and expectations. Be sure also to highlight what you learned from the situation.

Rachelle's Answer

"(Situation & Task) Last year, I worked on a design project for a clothing shop in a heritage building downtown. The owner had some pretty wild ideas that I felt my design team could execute. These ideas included massive iron displays suspended from the ceiling and a rotating display case built into the floor. Partway into the project, issues around the store's structure arose, and we were not able to bring this clients' vision entirely to life while maintaining safety and keeping the structural integrity of the building. The client did not understand the recommendations made by our architect, and communication broke down quickly. (Action) I know that there is an emotional element to design, especially when working with entrepreneurs who live and breathe their businesses. I called a meeting between myself, the client, and our senior architect. We rendered some new drawings and presented three alternate options for the client. (Result) Ultimately, the client chose one of the alternate options but somewhat begrudgingly. I knew that the client was more disappointed than angry because everything that we presented made complete sense, and the issues were not the fault of anyone - they were simply due to the buildings' limitations. During this project, I learned a lot about conflict resolution, problem-solving, and the importance of outlining explicit expectations and potential roadblock from the beginning."

3.

How do you handle stressful situations, such as collaborating with uncooperative architects or tradespeople?

The interviewer needs to hear that stressful situations or potential conflict will not get the best of you when you are working on a project with personalities different from you. Show that you have an understanding of your responsibility as a professional to mitigate stressful situations and ensure they do not leave a negative impact on a project. If you have a story-based example, be sure to show your conflict resolution and stress-management skills in action.

Rachelle's Answer

"There can be a lot of pressure in this job when collaborating with architects and tradespeople. We all have timelines to meet, and some days, it can be a challenge to satisfy all of these deadlines. However, I find that as long as I maintain a professional and courteous attitude, most situations can be figured out before they turn into a conflict. Just last month, a situation became heated between a contractor and myself when he said that my design idea was 'impossible.' Luckily the architect was on-site and disagreed with the contractor. We were able to maintain respect for all opinions, and we verbally worked out the misunderstanding. I believe that every project is about the clients' vision and never about ego. As passionate professionals, it's essential for everyone involved in the project to keep this mantra in mind. Contractors, architects, and tradespeople are critical to every project, and without them, I could not be a successful Interior Designer. For that reason, I am always mindful of working as a positive team player."

Anonymous Answer

"From a personal perspective, I find that when I'm under the pressure of a deadline, I can do some of my most creative work. And if things get really tough, I find that going for a run/walk it’s a great stress reducer. Also meditating helps too."

Rachelle's Answer

These are wonderful ways to reduce stress and pressure! It's great that you work so creatively under pressure. If you could add in an example of a time when you delivered better work under pressure, that would strengthen your response even further.

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4.

Talk about a unique project in your portfolio. What was the vision and inspiration?

The interviewer wants to learn more about your design experience and what makes you the proudest in your career as an Interior Designer. Share what you believe to be a stand-out project in your portfolio.

If you have photos available in your physical or digital portfolio, you can bring this answer to life by showing samples of the project. Express what you enjoyed most about working on the project, what you learned, and be sure to mention how happy you were with the outcome.

Rachelle's Answer

"Recently, I completed set design work for a local theatre company. I enjoyed this project and found inspiration in the creativity required to make all the moving parts come together. I also found this project a challenge as I worked alongside a new kind of artist type - the actors and the set director! In this instance, I was not the most artistic person in the room, and eccentricity surrounded me. This experience pushed me out of my comfort zone as an Interior Designer. The sets had to be simple, mobile, and profound. On opening night, I sat in the audience and was very proud of what we had accomplished. I was amazed at how the set came alive with the actors, lighting, and overall vibe brought on by the guests. I worked so hard to come up with the perfect design that would also allow for quick changes between scenes. This approach required minimalist thinking, which I found both tricky and exciting."

5.

Tell me about a time when your design idea clashed with the vision of your client or a team member.

As an Interior Designer, you will not always be on the same page with your client. It is, however, a significant part of your role to ensure that you achieve a common understanding. The interviewer wants to hear that you work collaboratively and are willing to adjust and modify when communication roadblocks or design hiccups occur.

Using the STAR framework (Situation, Task, Action, Result), give a story-based example that describes a time when your design ideas clashed with the vision of your client or a team member. Be sure to highlight your communication style and conflict resolution approach, finishing your answer on a positive note.

If this situation has never happened to you, that is great! Simply share that you haven't had this experience before, and then discuss what your course of action would be if you encountered the issue in the future.

Rachelle's Answer

"For me, as an experienced Interior Designer, one of the essential parts of the creative process is the initial brainstorming phase. When I am helping a client to envision what they want to see, it takes asking a lot of questions. In this discovery stage, I akin my approach to that of a counselor. I walk my clients through some design ideas and tell them about the process required to deliver the results. Some clients have concerns or opinions of their own. (Situation) One client, in particular, insisted that their preferred design style was minimalistic; however, they had a strong draw to the mid-century modern look. (Task) I was curious about the appeal since I found that their initial discovery and the conversations we were having mid-project were clashing. (Action) I offered samples and asked many specific questions. (Result) It turns out that my client did indeed prefer a minimalist look; however, they loved the clean lines, shapes, materials, and fabrics used in mid-century modern design. Once I was able to overcome that communication roadblock, the project went off without a hitch."

6.

How do you market yourself as an Interior Designer? What is your 'elevator pitch' with potential clients?

Whether you are an independent Interior Designer, or you are working for a design firm, marketing yourself is vital to your success. Assure the interviewer that everywhere you go, you act in professionalism. Talk about the ways that you network and 'get your name out there.' Some methods for marketing yourself may include:

- Building a visual portfolio on Instagram
- Asking for, and posting positive customer testimonials
- Attending community events
- Joining professional organizations
- Offering a client referral program
- Volunteering for local organizations

When it comes to an elevator pitch, one impactful approach is to craft a statement that follows the framework of, 'I help X to achieve Y so they can do Z.' Simply fill in the XYZ's to suit you!

Rachelle's Answer

"I primarily market myself through networking. I attend at least one social event per month, which may be a fundraising event or a business workshop. I have been a member of this city's Chamber of Commerce for five years, and have met some incredible contacts. I also have a unique referral program where I incentivize my former and current clients to give my name to their network if they feel that my approach would be a good fit. When it comes to my elevator pitch, I have carefully crafted a compelling framework. I simply state that I help independent business owners to achieve a space that they are proud of so they can boost their sales and better market their business. If possible, when giving my pitch, I will use information previously gathered about the client and tailor it to speak to their targets. When delivering my elevator pitch, I want the other person to feel understood and in good hands."

7.

Tell me about your ideal design project. If you could conceptualize anything from start to finish, what would it be?

As an Interior Designer, you probably daydream and conceptualize projects that you would take on if there were no restrictions. Without a budget or anyone saying no to your ideas, what would you create? Take your time to walk the interviewer through your ideal design project. Share your inspiration and bring it to life for the interviewer.

Rachelle's Answer

"I love to travel and embrace other cultures. I have traveled all over the world and have lived in numerous countries, leading to the signature style that I have crafted today. My ideal design project would be the renovation of a residential home that takes all of these experiences and inspiration and translates them into an oasis. I would love to build a bed-and-breakfast-style resort and would take a lot of inspiration from my favorite designer, Abigail Ahern. I recently took her masterclass 'Designing Your Dream Home,' and I learned a lot from her eclectic, playful, and warm approach to design. She teaches 'breaking the rules' and 'following your instinct' which I can easily do since my inspiration comes from the numerous places I have lived around the world. This B&B style resort would include an earthy palette, the inclusion of exotic botanicals, and a lot of texture and layers. I would bring outdoor elements in, and then I would create an outdoor oasis that flowed naturally."

Anonymous Answer

"My dream job would be doing the interior design for clients that have homes abroad to allow me to travel while working. Two things I love the most! I would love exploring the culture and gain inspiration from my travels! Of course, this is my dream, and I look forward to all of the design experiences that I am offered in my career. Someday, I will achieve my dream! For now, gaining experience is my hope!"

Rachelle's Answer

Your goals are very exciting! I recommend wording this a bit differently so that it doesn't seem that this role is an 'until I get what I really want' type of opportunity. I have offered a slight revision, below.

"My two passions are design and travel! My dream career would include the opportunity to gain design inspiration from other cultures. I look forward to the design experiences offered by (company name) and working with your diverse client base."

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Anonymous Answer

"My ideal job would be to design spaces that truly make an impact on people's daily lives; Spaces that are visually pleasing and practical that support and enhance their daily routine. Nothing would make me happy than to work as an interior designer, day in and day out. Specifically, I would like to design residential homes for the public, but for now, gaining experience and developing my skills is my main goal."

Rachelle's Answer

Good revision! These added specifics will help the interviewer to picture your ideal career path.

"My ideal job would be to design spaces that truly make an impact on people's daily lives. Spaces that are visually pleasing and practical that support and enhance their daily routine. Nothing would make me happier than to work as an interior designer, day in and day out. Specifically, I would like to design residential homes for the public, but for now, gaining broader experience and developing my foundational design skills is my main goal."

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8.

What type of projects would you like to be involved in, to expand your interior design portfolio?

The interviewer would like to know what your goals are for your portfolio and design career. When you can clearly define your career goals, the hiring company will be able to pin-point whether this collaboration is a fit! Share a couple of design goals that you have for yourself when it comes to expanding your portfolio.

You might share that you dream of designing a specific type of space. Perhaps you dream of working on a team with a particular style of design. After discussing your career goals, be sure to tie them in with the opportunity presented.

Rachelle's Answer

"I have an interest in being involved in more commercial projects, such as the public library project that I mentioned previously. These projects are so different for me, and I learn a great deal, which makes them incredibly enticing. In terms of the library project, knowing that the end product was something that supported my community and made it better was very rewarding. I find joy in supporting my community and making it an even better place to live. When I saw that your firm focuses on a lot of government and community projects, I felt compelled to apply, and I am eager to grow my portfolio in these areas with your design firm."

9.

Looking at your design portfolio, which project makes you most proud, and why?

The interviewer wants to see what makes you beam when you discuss your design portfolio. Think back to previous projects and be ready to present one project that feels extra special for you. Perhaps you made a great connection with the client, or maybe you were able to execute your clients' vision flawlessly. Discuss the project details, and be sure to let your enthusiasm shine!

Rachelle's Answer

"I have had the opportunity to have worked on some fantastic projects. The ones that I enjoy the most are when I can work with small business owners to bring their vision to life. I love helping them set up their shops and displays in a way that is visually appealing but also optimizes sales and the overall customer experience. It's rewarding to work with business owners who have a clear vision of what they want to draw out of a well-thought-out space. I have a few examples of small business projects in my portfolio; however, one that stands out the most for me was a bookstore that I worked on a couple of years ago. The owner was so knowledgeable about his merchandise and the retail industry but struggled with presenting his vision. We worked together and came up with color schemes, room layouts, and furniture ideas. This project has a special place for me because we worked so well together in coming up with a quaint and welcoming space that he and his customers love. I checked in with this client six months after his re-design, and he reported that sales had increased by 28%, which I thought was incredible!"

10.

Describe a successful team-based design project. What was your role within the team, and how did you contribute to the projects' success?

Teamwork is an essential component of pulling together a successful design project. The interviewer wants to know that when you are working within a design team that you are a positive contributing member. No one project is precisely the same, which requires a great deal of flexibility from all team members. The best design teams are not usually hierarchical. Instead, they are more free-flowing and innovative.

Using the STAR framework (Situation, Task, Action, Result), take the time to tell a story surrounding your ability to collaborate and help your team to generate a positive result. State your typical role in a team-based project, and describe how you contribute.

Rachelle's Answer

"(Situation) When I was working on the public library design project, there was conflict as we had to follow plenty of regulations and work alongside government employees. (Task) When I work as part of a design team, I often take on the role of 'people problem solver.' I can sense friction, and I can quickly see when a conflict is brewing. In times of disagreement, I have a natural ability to see all sides and communicate with others effectively to come up with a situation. (Action) In this instance, I would carefully listen during meetings and take note of communication roadblocks. I expressed that to succeed, we needed to have a shared language and vision. We needed to win together and lose together. I often identified forgotten tasks, and project needs we had lost in translation between the designers and the contractors. I spent my time clarifying these issues by bringing together the designers and contractors in quick daily meetings. (Result) My approach took some time and a lot of effort, but we solved many communication issues along the way. Of course, I did not resolve all of the problems; however, the mediator role that I took helped the project to stay on track in many senses."

11.

How well do you collaborate with others when it comes to design, style, and project vision?

Being a team player is often one of the top competencies that hiring companies seek! The interviewer wants to hear that you collaborate very well with others. As an Interior Designer, this skill is especially important as you often work with various team members to get a project off the ground. Share that you enjoy collaborating with others and then offer a story-based example of a time when you happily worked with others and saw a positive outcome.

Rachelle's Answer

"I genuinely enjoy collaborating on design projects. Interior designers are so creative and unique! As creative types, our opinions can be strong, and design ideas can conflict; however, it is important to remember to respect and be open to other people's ideas. Every time I have the opportunity to work with another designer, I end up walking away with so much knowledge and inspiration. On one project, I joined a team of local designers building a new and very modern public library. There were many moving parts, and because the government was involved, every single detail needed to be discussed and collectively decided on with stringent guidelines to follow. There was no room for error on this project, and it was a huge challenge not only because of the political and budget-related logistics but also because of the variety of personalities involved. Today, the library is thriving, and it truly is an architectural and design masterpiece that has been embraced by the community. I learned so much about myself as an Interior Designer, and I am proud of my contributions to that team."

12.

What kind of discovery questions do you ask your clients before beginning a new project?

Part of your success as an Interior Designer is to build the right foundation at the start of each project. The discovery process is critical to the success of the project, and a great discovery session can help to ensure that your client is happy with the result. The interviewer wants to picture you conversing with a new client. Discuss the types of questions that you ask, but avoid responding with a bulleted list. Take the time to walk the interviewer through your process.

Rachelle's Answer

"I like to ask questions such as, 'Tell me about your ideal space.' I bring an open-ended approach and reserve closed-ended questions when I require a targeted response for topics such as the budget and timeline. When asking discovery questions, I get to know my client and their habits in the space that we are re-designing. For instance, if we are in their home, I will say, 'Walk me through your living pattern, from morning to evening.' Or, I will say, 'Can you show me your morning routine?' I want to see how they move about their house so that when their new design is in place, everything flows and remains convenient. I will say, 'Tell me how you want to feel in this space,' which is a terrific way to gain an idea of the feelings that I should elicit in my design. Open-ended dialogue is critical so that I know the client will get what they want out of the design project in both the look and overall vibe."

Anonymous Answer

"Well, I’m really excited by this opportunity to work for this design firm because, in five years, I’d like to be seen as someone with deep expertise in the design field, and I know that’s something that I’ll have an opportunity to do here. I’m also really excited to learn from the experts in interior design and potentially even take the lead on some projects. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a company that has allowed me to grow in my skillsets for communications, and so I'm really excited to take those skills that I have learned and use it for this position."

Rachelle's Answer

You have a great vision for yourself and your career! Be aware of the number of times you use 'really excited' and try to work on expanding your descriptive words so that your interview responses do not come across as repetitive. I have provided an example below.

"In five years, I want to be seen as a design professional with deep expertise in (choose one or two specific design topics). I am eager to learn from the experts at (company name), eventually taking the lead on interior design projects."

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Anonymous Answer

"Well, I’m really excited by this opportunity to work for this design firm because, in five years, I’d like to be seen as someone with deep expertise in the design field, and I know that’s something that I’ll have an opportunity to do here. I’m also really excited to learn from the experts in interior design and potentially even take the lead on some projects. I’ve been lucky enough to work with a company that has allowed me to grow in my skillsets for communications, and so I'm really excited to take those skills that I have learned and use it for this position."

Rachelle's Answer

You have a great vision for yourself and your career! Be aware of the number of times you use 'really excited' and try to work on expanding your descriptive words so that your interview responses do not come across as repetitive. I have provided an example below.

"In five years, I want to be seen as a design professional with deep expertise in (choose one or two specific design topics). I am eager to learn from the experts at (company name), eventually taking the lead on interior design projects."

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13.

When it comes to project collaboration versus working independently, what is your preference, and why?

Before your interview, carefully review the job description and company website to gain an understanding of the role. This research will allow you to see if the position requires working individually or primarily in a team-based environment.

When the interviewer asks you a collaboration-related question, share that you are open to working in teams or independently. If you have a strong preference for one environment over the other, be sure to mention your preference while expressing that you will happily work with others.

Rachelle's Answer

"My answer depends on the project. I have passion projects that I enjoy, and I like to do these on my own or with an assistant who understands my style and approach. Those passion projects include working with designers and small business owners on displays and storefronts. When I work on with a small business owner, it is a more personal approach, and I like the one-on-one intimacy. When working on larger scale projects such as commercial designs or hotel remodels, I much prefer to work with other talented designers. I learn so much from the expertise of others, and it also disperses the pressure when it comes to decision making or meeting tight deadlines. For me, the best part of being an Interior Designer is is that no day looks the same, and there are so many ways that I can use my gifts and abilities while also growing and learning from others."

Anonymous Answer

"I am very open to both and believe both have benefits. Working in teams increases collaboration and allows for brainstorming. I created some of my favorite designs by bouncing my ideas off with my coworkers, and it also helped me to really visualize what the end design would be. Often in the design field, you're faced with issues that need creative problem-solving. Working with someone more experienced or that has seen the same issue in the past, it gives the opportunity for learning from one another."

Rachelle's Answer

Excellent! Again, I recommend working on brevity. Try also adding in that you are capable of independent work. I have provided an example below.

"Independent and group work each have their benefits. Working in teams increases collaboration and allows for brainstorming. I created some of my favorite designs by bouncing ideas off my coworkers. This collaboration helped me to visualize what the end design would be. Often in the design field, I am faced with issues that need creative problem-solving. Working with someone more experienced allows me to learn and grow. With that said, I am capable of independent work and self-led learning."

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14.

Do you prefer functionality or appeal? Support your preference.

There is no right or wrong answer to this type of question. As an Interior Designer, you will have your preferences and individual reasoning behind those preferences. When you discuss functionality versus appeal, you can talk about projects in your past where you may have chosen one approach over the other.

Rachelle's Answer

"For me, this answer depends on the project. I have worked on a variety of projects with different desired outcomes, where my clients' goals will define whether I choose functionality over the appeal and vice versa. For instance, if I am designing a high-end boutique or salon, the project would need to be functional but also have great appeal. When designing a library or bookstore, I focus on functionality and sustainability while maintaining an overall vibe that guests will enjoy. In any set design project I have taken on, the priority is functionality as the sets need to move and be multi-purpose; however, the appeal still needs consideration."

Anonymous Answer

"I'm often told my style is classic and timeless, but I love how you can continue to discover your own style. But I would have to say I go for the more traditional design because I love creating a sense of coziness. The rooms have plenty of accessories, family pieces, and things I've discovered from traveling."

Rachelle's Answer

You do a very nice job describing your style, which will allow the interviewer to feel your passion for design.

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15.

Describe your design style. What factors or influences led you to your signature style?

The interviewer wants to get to know you better and understand the core of your inspiration as an Interior Designer. This question is a fantastic opportunity to show that you are passionate about your work while also giving the hiring authority a glimpse into why you chose a career in interior design.

Rachelle's Answer

"Growing up in a small town in the 1980s has left its mark on my design style, for sure! I have always loved the idea of the perfect small town in America with quaint shops and adorable storefronts where people are drinking soda out of glass bottles, and everyone knows each others' names. Growing up, living in North America meant freedom, joy, and success. Whether that was reality or not, I believed it for myself. I would bedazzle my bike and the bikes of my friends with glitter nail polish. I decorated my treehouse more often than I can count, using leftover wallpaper samples that our local paint shop owner would save for me. Today, my inspiration comes from the people and the landscape around me, and the feeling of security that I felt growing up. Through my journey, I found new influences through my photography and discovered unique perspectives from the art school education that I received. For all these reasons, I would describe my style as inspired by nature, traditional, and yet transitional. I will incorporate glass and steel and other modern materials, but then I like to warm those materials up with barn wood and plush furnishings. Sometimes my clients say that my style is 'a touch of glam with a dash of Americana,' and I can undoubtedly thank my upbringing for that!"

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30 Interior Designer Interview Questions
Win your next job by practicing from our question bank. We have thousands of questions and answers created by interview experts.

Interview Questions

  1. What do you love most about the interior design profession?
  2. Tell me about a design project that did not turn out as expected. What were the contributing factors, and how did you ensure a positive result?
  3. How do you handle stressful situations, such as collaborating with uncooperative architects or tradespeople?
  4. Talk about a unique project in your portfolio. What was the vision and inspiration?
  5. Tell me about a time when your design idea clashed with the vision of your client or a team member.
  6. How do you market yourself as an Interior Designer? What is your 'elevator pitch' with potential clients?
  7. Tell me about your ideal design project. If you could conceptualize anything from start to finish, what would it be?
  8. What type of projects would you like to be involved in, to expand your interior design portfolio?
  9. Looking at your design portfolio, which project makes you most proud, and why?
  10. Describe a successful team-based design project. What was your role within the team, and how did you contribute to the projects' success?
  11. How well do you collaborate with others when it comes to design, style, and project vision?
  12. What kind of discovery questions do you ask your clients before beginning a new project?
  13. When it comes to project collaboration versus working independently, what is your preference, and why?
  14. Do you prefer functionality or appeal? Support your preference.
  15. Describe your design style. What factors or influences led you to your signature style?
  16. What do you know about sustainable design?
  17. What resources or publications do you lean on to keep current with design trends?
  18. What tools or framework do you use to ensure that your project quotes are as accurate as possible?
  19. How do you gain buy-in from your client when presenting a design concept?
  20. If you were working on a design project and disagreed with someone on the team, how would you voice your opinion?
  21. Do you work well under pressure? Give me an example of a time when you succeeded under immense pressure.
  22. When did you realize you wanted to be an Interior Designer? What initially sparked your passion for style and design?
  23. Tell me about a time when a client was upset with a design choice you made. How did you handle the situation?
  24. Have you ever encountered a situation where your client did not like your design? How did you handle the situation?
  25. Are there any interior design styles you tend to stay away from or dislike?
  26. Tell me about your career goals. How can our design firm help you to reach these goals?
  27. Tell me about a time when you had to work with a difficult client. How did you approach communicating with this client?
  28. How will you make a positive contribution to our design firm?
  29. Have you ever exceeded the budget for a design project? If so, what did you do to fix the situation? What are your steps for monitoring a project budget?
  30. What tech and tools do you use to support your design process?
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