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How to Get a Job at Spotify Design

April 2020

Article

Adrian Buendia

Get noticed. Tell your design story. And don’t forget the data. This is our guide to getting hired at Spotify Design.

Hi, I’m Adrian. I’m part of Spotify’s talent acquisition team. We’re responsible for bringing high-quality humans to Spotify Design across our offices worldwide.

During my time here, we’ve talked to a lot of designers who are curious about working for Spotify. And there are a few questions we’ve been asked over and over:

How do I get on the team's radar? 

What skills do I need to work at Spotify? 

What should I expect from the interview process? 

What’s Spotify Design looking for right now?

We could keep the answers to these questions a secret. But we think it’s in everyone’s best interest to answer them as honestly as we can. So what you’ll find below is our guide to the hiring process at Spotify Design. I’ll answer the popular questions above and tell you a bit more about how we do things when we’re looking to fill open roles.

Whether you’re a designer who wants to work at Spotify, or you’re a design manager looking to refresh your hiring processes, I hope you find this peek behind the curtain interesting and useful. Let’s go!

How we find people

One question I’m asked all the time is how to get on the talent acquisition team’s radar. There are, in fact, lots of ways. Our radar is wide-ranging, and we’re constantly on the lookout for talent anywhere we can find it. I check everything from Instagram to LinkedIn to App Index, HTTP Hipster, New graphic, Eye on Design, and Kill Screen to the resumes sent to us from applicants worldwide. And yes, I even check Twitter. So if you’re worried that you’re not in that one special place where we find everyone, don’t be. There is no one place!

A lot of the time we find designers the old-fashioned way: through networking. And I don’t mean at events with lukewarm beer and stick-on name tags (although those can be fun, too). But more through our connections with diverse design communities worldwide — because that’s where the talented people usually gather. So wherever you are, I recommend that you participate in your local design community. Sign up for the newsletters. Go to the events. Share your work with other designers. Ask people if they want to work with you. In short: Put yourself out there. 

Finding the best designer for a role is also about looking for a designer that can bring diversity of thought. We partner with our Diversity & Belonging team to build stronger partnerships with unrepresented demographics. For us, it’s not about finding someone you want to get a drink with, but someone you want to create impactful and innovative work with.

And we try to nurture relationships over time. When we hold events, I often talk with designers about the Spotify Design culture even if we’re not discussing a specific open role. Even a quick chat can be a spark, and a casual conversation now can lead to a job opportunity later.   

Submitting your application

For those applying to Spotify Design through the job portal, this is your friendly reminder that every role is treated differently and requires its own blend of skills and experience. If you’re interested in more than one job, make sure to call out your suitability in separate applications. Yes, it takes more time, but you dramatically increase your chances of success by tailoring your application to the role. 

I love to hear why someone thinks they’re a perfect fit for a job, so we encourage you to show us your best self in whatever way works for you. A great portfolio doesn't have to be a collection of glossy screenshots and big-name brands. Highlight your coding expertise. Send over your sticky note sketch artistry. Make sure you cover your experience working with different processes and navigating through the muddy stuff. Pitch yourself as a gourmet chef who can make something delicious using the melting pot of design tools. Share articles you’ve written, data you’ve visualized, and talks you’ve given. 

Whatever you’ve got, we want to see it. No matter what your materials look like, we’re most interested in understanding how you think critically about the ways design and technology interact. 

And for designers early in their career, here’s another option: Every September, we start our search for interns to join us in the summer of the following year, mostly in New York, London, and Stockholm. Internships at Spotify are anything but conventional, and are always paid. You won’t be making tea, picking up packages, or taking minutes in meetings. You’ll be at the heart of major projects, working with our teams to create awesome things. 

Most of our junior designers were hired after performing well in our internship program. I highly recommend that you listen to our Greenroom podcast episode to learn more about what internships at Spotify are like, and consider applying when our internship applications open in September. 

The introductory interview

We typically start our candidate conversations with an introductory interview. It’s less a chance for us to pepper you with questions than your opportunity to tell us what you want from a job, and from life itself. Don’t share just your skills, share your hopes and dreams! Our hope is that Spotify is a good match for those dreams. We want you to be able to do your best work here.

When I do these chats, I want to hear about the work that’s defined you, what sort of things you want to work on, and where you want to grow. We’re also evaluating you for what you’ll bring to the team and how you embody the Spotify values - these are our non-negotiables! So do make sure you familiarise yourself with them (and our band manifesto) and have an answer for how and why they resonate with you. I also run through Spotify Design’s organizational structure and give some context for how it fits into Spotify as a whole.

It’s a lot to pack into a first convo, but because we work closely with other teams, we’re able to quickly determine whether you might be a better fit for another role here. I’ve been halfway through a conversation with a candidate and realized they’d be perfect for another position on another team. And so I pitched them for that other job. Don’t feel like you need to fit into a predefined box matching the role you’re applying for; you never know where the true opportunity will be.  

Even if that first chat doesn’t lead to further discussions, don’t be discouraged. This process is all about building a relationship. If you don’t get hired for one position, there’s still a good chance that another suitable opening will pop up later. It pays to be patient.

The portfolio review

If we move forward after the introductory phone interview, there are two more folks to meet in the form of a video call with the Talent Acquisition rep for the role and then another with the Hiring Manager or a member of the team in which the role is open, sometimes a Product Manager will even pop up. This will more than likely take the form of a portfolio review. What they’re looking for here is for you to take them on a design journey, starring you as the main character. They’ll go through one or two of your favorite projects so you can talk about your process, thinking, and approach. Seeing a polished final product is great, but what they really want to know is how you got there. 

(And, by the way, the project doesn’t even have to be finished. Some candidates take us through a work-in-progress vision board or content strategy. Those kinds of artifacts give us incredible insight into how designers approach their work.)

During the portfolio review, we’ll likely ask you to reflect on two of Spotify Design’s most beloved traits: autonomy and multidisciplinary thinking. I always enjoy hearing how candidates have worked with non-design disciplines to create something amazing. We’re looking for designers who are flexible and adaptable, so having a wide variety of experience can be helpful. Worried you don’t have a wide variety? Dig into your professional archive and think about jobs you’ve had that weren’t strictly design-related. How might those diverse experiences help you succeed at Spotify?

If you’ve ticked all the boxes so far then we’ll ask you to come in and meet the team, for a day of onsite interviews. You’ll meet with the tech, product, insights and design partners who you would collaborate with on a daily basis. We’ll ask nicely if you’d mind walking us through your portfolio again, in person this time and to a slightly larger, always friendly audience. Prepare for questions.

On the day of your portfolio review, you’ll also participate in a real-time design exercise with members of our team that will give you a taste of what it’s like to work as a designer at Spotify. We’ll give you a brief, a whiteboard, and a stack of sticky notes, and you’ll have about 2 hours to come up with ideas to address a Spotify design challenge.

The importance of insight

There’s a lot of data and other bits of quantifiable information flying around at Spotify, but for us the real magic is in the insight — the interpretation of that information. Whether you’re participating in research sessions, studying A/B test results, or coming up with metrics that define success for your project, almost every aspect of a designer’s job here is influenced by insight. 

And so one thing that can make a candidate stand out is an ability to help derive insight and make design decisions based on it. During the interview process, we like it when designers tell us compelling stories that are driven by insight: We want to know how you’ve interacted with data, what you learned from it, and how you used those learnings to your advantage. We’re looking for creative problem solvers who can make sense of information and put together strong hypotheses to shape their solutions.  

We’re hiring

It’s true: We have design openings that we’re looking to fill right now! They’re all listed on the Spotify Jobs website, where you can filter by the job category “Design and User Experience.” Even if there’s nothing that speaks to you or your experience right now, we’re always posting new opportunities, so keep checking back on our social media channels, the spotify.design website for updates on events and conferences we’ll be popping up at and make sure you sign up to the Spotify Design newsletter. 

I hope this guide is helpful to you, whatever your job dreams may be! 

Credits

Adrian Buendia

Senior Talent Acquisition Partner

Adrian Buendia is a Senior Global Talent Acquisition Partner for Design at Spotify tasked with hiring Product Designers at all levels in our global offices.

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