LinkedIn Product Design Internship Application Process

Linkedin white logo on a blue background

On Jan 30, 2023, I received an offer from LinkedIn for the 2023 Product Design Summer Internship.

LinkedIn’s application process was the longest I’ve ever done: a total of 4 rounds.

In this article, I want to share my application process and takeaways. I hope this will help whoever’s interested in applying in the future.

Timeline

  • Nov 15, 2022 / Submitted application
  • Nov 23, 2022 / Received an email from the recruiter
  • Dec 5, 2022 / Recruiter phone screen
  • Dec 12, 2022 / Case Study Presentation (2 Sessions)
  • Dec 16, 2022 / Take home challenge (1 week)
  • Jan 26, 2023 / Final Round (Presentation + two 1:1 Interviews)
  • Jan 30, 2023 / Offer Received

Going back in time

November 2022

On November 15, I cold applied to LinkedIn’s product design internship position.

But before that, a product design lead at LinkedIn (Molly Knight) was able to refer me for the position. She talked to the hiring manager to make sure they look at my application.

Then, during my thanksgiving break, I received an email from a LinkedIn recruiter:

Email from recruiter telling me about the phone screen
🤩🤩🤩

And that’s when the process began.

Application Stages

Round 1: Recruiter phone screen

In early December, I hopped on a 30-min call with the LinkedIn recruiter.

How I prepared

I created an interview prep document with potential questions that may be asked. Then, I wrote out bullet points for the main questions:

  • Tell me about yourself
  • Why LinkedIn?
  • What do you hope to gain from this internship experience?
  • Tell me about your time at XYZ Company

Feel free to copy this template here!

It’s important to note that in the email, the recruiter said:

Be prepared to walk through a case study in your portfolio and discuss why you’re interested in a role at LinkedIn

Something good to keep in mind.

Also, because of my podcast, I had the chance to chat with many past design interns. This helped me understand the process & how to prepare. Huge shoutout to Mita, Taylor, Yuhan, and David!

Here are other resources that I found helpful:

Tips

Use the STAR or SAIL method

The STAR method is a popular response technique in behavioral interviews. It stands for:

  • Situation - Describe the situation
  • Task - Explain the task you had to complete
  • Action - Describe the specific actions you took to complete the tasks
  • Results - Close with the results of your efforts
A breakdown of the
Source

I used this method for a while, but for LinkedIn, I tried a new framework: SAIL.

This is like STAR, but here’s the structure:

  • Situation - Describe the situation
  • Action - Describe the specific actions you took to complete the tasks
  • Impact - Share the results/impact of your efforts
  • Learnings - Close with what you learned
See what’s the difference?

I took out "Task" and added "Learnings". I believe learning is crucial to say when describing a project or experience.

I don’t think one is better than the other. So choose whichever one feels more comfortable for you.

Moving on

After the call, on the same day, the recruiter said I’ll be moving to the next round!

Email from recruiter moving me to the second round

Round 2: Case study presentation

A week later, I hopped on two 1:1, 30-minute calls to each present a case study.

How I prepared

One of my favorite parts of the process was the recruiter always provided interview details.

Email from recruiter with details about the case study presentation

The team wanted a 20-minute presentation on one case study. Then, they will assess the designs by the following criteria:

  • Product Thinking
  • Visual Design
  • Interaction Design
  • Storytelling

Thus, I listed out my main projects and roughly ranked them based on the criteria.

A table ranking three projects I had based on research, visual design, interaction design, and product thinking

In the end, I presented my TChat case study since it scored the highest.

Title slide for my TChat mobile design project

What happened

Turned out, for the first 1:1, I didn’t even present my case study.

We ended up…chatting.

It felt more like a casual behavioral interview. And I got the chance to ask a ton of questions.

For the second 1:1, I did present, and the interviewer asked me questions such as:

  • Why did you use this specific pattern?
  • Were there any major challenges you faced?

Tips

Practice as if it’s real

I cannot stress this enough.

It’s important to practice. But it’s more effective to practice as if it’s the real deal.

If it’s virtual, open up Zoom. Turn on your camera. And share your presentation. Practice until you can present smoothly for 20 minutes.

At that point, you’ll feel so much more confident. Trust me.

Resources

Moving on

After the two 1:1 interviews, I discussed the next steps with the recruiter. Then, I was given the one-week design exercise on December 16!

Email from recruiter telling me the details of the design exercise

Round 3: Take home design challenge

From Dec 16 - 23, I worked on the take-home design challenge.

Not gonna lie - it was stressful. It was the only thing on my mind for the week.

But, it turned out to be my favorite project thus far.

Title slide for my LinkedIn design exercise

If you want to check out my entire presentation, reach out via LinkedIn!

Tips

Follow a clear process

Remember: You only have one week. So I’ll highly recommend following a process.

Here was the process I used:

  1. Problem Validation (Research, Synthesis)
  2. Design
  3. Solution Validation (Testing, Design Changes, Success Metrics)
My 3-step design process with problem validation, design, and solution validation

Plan out your days

Once you have your process, plan out each day what you’re going to do.

Or else, you’ll soon realize you have one day left. And you haven’t started designing yet.

So plan ahead. And don’t forget to include time for creating the presentation deck.

Define your scope

If you feel like the prompt is vague, you’re not alone. And that’s for a reason.

The design team wants to see how you define your target audience with rationale.

Keep that in mind when doing research.

Document your designs

This is what I learned when I interned at Roblox.

Always document your design decisions.

This was tremendously helpful for me to organize my thoughts. It also helped me build my presentation.

Screenshot of my design documentation for LinkedIn's design exercise

Consider & value accessibility

Accessibility is huge in LinkedIn design. So, it’s a plus if you show that you considered accessibility in your designs.

Resources

Here were some resources that I looked at when doing the take-home assignment:

Moving on

After I submitted my presentation on Dec 23, the recruiter got back to me on Jan 3rd about the status update.

Email from recruiter telling me Happy New Year and updating me on the status

I really appreciated how the recruiter consistently updated me. And a week after, the recruiter said the team liked my design exercise, and I will be moving to the final round!

Email from recruiter telling me that I would move to the final round

Round 4: Presentation + 1:1 interviews

On Jan 26, I did the final round interview, which consisted of

  1. Panel Presentation (Design challenge + 1 case study)
  2. Two 1:1 Interviews

How I prepared (panel presentation)

Since I’ve already created the design exercise + case study presentation, it wasn’t too much work for me.

Yet, the recruiter did say to add personal touch in the beginning.

Thus, I added 6 fun facts about me, which included this slide:

Presentation slide with several cat collages

Now, talking for 45 minutes straight is no easy task for an introvert like me. So, I practiced a ton.

How I prepared (1:1 interviews)

For this round, I prepped for all the common interview questions.

Also, I wrote down questions to ask the interviewers. The two that I think really worked were:

  1. How empowered is the product design department relative to other functions in the larger organizational structure at LinkedIn?
  2. What are a few major things you learned at LinkedIn that have helped you become a better designer?

What happened (panel presentation)

Since before the day I practiced a ton, I felt confident.

In the end, I presented within the timeframe for each project. And after each project, I received a mix of feedback and questions. Here were some of the highlights:

  • Consider edge cases when you’re designing
  • Use visual design principles to tie elements together
  • What are some of the constraints you faced in this project?

But overall, it seemed like the panelist enjoyed the presentation!

What happened (1:1 interviews)

For the first 1:1, I actually already spoke with the manager before. So, she was very kind to share her screen and show me her design system work at LinkedIn.

And it blew my mind. Super cool stuff.

For the second 1:1, it was one of the panelists. And she asked me specific questions about the project and past experiences such as:

  • Have you considered this edge case (example)?
  • Have you worked with a design system before? How has that been like?
  • What’s an example where you encountered a challenge when working with design system?

At the end, I thoroughly enjoyed both 1:1s.

Also, I remember after the last call, I just collapsed on my chair thinking

Oh my goodness… It’s over. I’m finally done.

Offer!

Then, on Jan 30, I received a call from the recruiter telling me that…

I got the offer!!!

Michael Scott crying in The Office

Conclusion

Seriously, LinkedIn’s process was long. This was a great practice for future full-time application process.

But, being very honest, I’m very, very thankful of my recruiter. He always updated me on the application status and vouched for me to the design team. When I had questions, he quickly responded and would even offer to call.

Now, though I did not accept the offer, I genuinely enjoyed the interview process. And I’m grateful for everyone I talked to during this process.

Finally, I hope this was helpful for future LinkedIn design applicants. You got this!

And that’s a wrap!

Thank you for being awesome and reading this far! :)

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn, Twitter, or by email. Will love to set up a casual call and chat!

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