I haven’t applied for a job since 2004. A lot has changed since then, and working to reenter the fulltime workforce has had ups and downs.

I’ve seen engineering tests, but haven’t seen design tests as publicly available. Often, these engineering tests seem to focus on high level concepts, process, and problem solving. These qualities seem as important when hiring a designer.

In the past, I would have answered those questions during an interview, while talking through a portfolio. When applying for internships and my first jobs out of college, we talked about the concepts, process, and problems behind a project.

I feel conflicted about the widespread adoption of a design test. How do they relate or fit into the continuum of spec work. How does a design test differ from a portfolio piece if no discussion takes place for either? What role does payment play in a design test? Do applicants have any other option?

This job application process still feels new to me, and it seems everyone has a slightly different “test” process. I put together a few other’s experiences as well.

Some good reading on design tests.

Thanks to people like Julie Zhou, Google Ventures, and others, a large body of writing exists around product design management and process. How can we standardize the hiring process like we’ve tried to standardize product product process. Can we create a service like joblint.org to help employers create useful design tests, and give applicants more information about the structure and process around a particular test.