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Is it worth showing personal work?

Postby mcpbowman » July 24th, 2017, 3:01 am


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Hello all! :)

I just wanted to get some different people's opinions on if you think it's worth showing personal work in an interview situation?
This could range from sketches to mini projects completed outside of work (maybe even some DIY furniture builds etc).

I was just wondering if people in the position of hiring wanted to see an overall interest in design and its processes or if they only wanted to see completed projects from work/uni?

Just to clarify, I don't mean filling a portfolio with stand alone sketches, but maybe taking an iPad (or equivalent) with some images on to flick through after presenting the portfolio.
I guess this would be more to show a bit of an insight into who you are as a person rather than an employee, maybe this is important to some and not others.

I don't particularly have a take on this, but I thought it would be interesting to get people's feedback on it.

Thanks :)

Re: Is it worth showing personal work?

Postby cwatkinson » July 24th, 2017, 7:46 am

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I think it is always valuable to show personal work, but as you mention balance and content is important. I once had a student who was an awesome Manga artist, but i advised against showing the work that had more Skin then clothing (he didn't listen and i got a call from the hiring manager as i knew her, and asked for me to explain how it made many people uncomfortable)
I always like to understand what peoples passions are out side of work and the things they do. A standard question is always "do you have any hobbies" mine is yes - outdoors and personal design projects - it is always an interesting conversation when i explain to them that i view my 2 sons as organic concept development projects ;)

Re: Is it worth showing personal work?

Postby mcpbowman » July 25th, 2017, 2:28 am


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Thank you for the reply.
I had the same thoughts as you, I would want my employer to have a bit of understanding of who I am as a person and vice versa.

I have found in the past that some people really don't have an interest in being shown this sort of work, but I guess you should gauge how the interview would be going and if its relevant to talk about it or not.

I like the organic concept development line! :P

Re: Is it worth showing personal work?

Postby AndyMc » July 25th, 2017, 5:54 am

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mcpbowman wrote:I was just wondering if people in the position of hiring wanted to see an overall interest in design and its processes or if they only wanted to see completed projects from work/uni?


I think it's absolutely valuable to show personal projects in an interview. The above quote resonates particularly strongly as I believe the personal projects show that you are genuinely interested in being a designer, and that you have taken the initiative to identify and solve a problem in your own time.

I'd focus on showing relevant work and shy away from showing a large amount of in-direct interests like pure photography or art. Save them as talking points that you can show if requested rather than consuming valuable real estate in your portfolio. Make sure that if you do show indirect interests that the quality is on par with your portfolio.

Re: Is it worth showing personal work?

Postby mcpbowman » July 26th, 2017, 2:21 am


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I'm glad you agree Andy.
That's what I have tended to do in the past, I would have my full portfolio and an iPad with different folders of photos showing different aspects such as prototypes/model making or sketch sheets.
I can then pick out the relevant folders to show if I think they fit or if there is some time towards the end of the interview.

I have been on a few interviews where people haven't been interested in the extra stuff at all. This lead me to question whether I should be showing the extra work or not, I'm glad that you both have the same thoughts as I do. :)

Re: Is it worth showing personal work?

Postby Kaminszakr » August 25th, 2017, 2:54 am


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Why they are not publishing all project fastly ?

Re: Is it worth showing personal work?

Postby IDiot » August 25th, 2017, 8:36 am

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I always show personal projects as I believe they balance out my professional work and show where my passion and interests lie. I generally also speak to the technical skills I was trying to improve, or what I was trying to learn with the project.

I'm not sure I'd want to work somewhere that showed no interest in these personal projects and explorations.

Re: Is it worth showing personal work?

Postby yo » August 25th, 2017, 1:48 pm

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I've hired people based on what I saw in their personal projects over what i saw them doing in their day job. Sometimes that is where the potential lives, but those personal projects were very related to design (IE, I saw this problem, had an insight, and just had to do a project around it...)

Re: Is it worth showing personal work?

Postby mcpbowman » August 29th, 2017, 2:19 am


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Thanks IDiot and Yo for the replies.
I've got to say, I have been pretty put off in the past when the interviewer showed no interest in anything outside of the questions they were asking. It doesn't
usually foreshadow a great working relationship!

I'm glad to hear that its not always that way! :)

Re: Is it worth showing personal work?

Postby yo » August 30th, 2017, 1:17 pm

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Good that you were paying attention to that. An interview is always a two way street. Both you and the employer are going to be locked into a relationship for a period of years (not literally). Both parties need to make sure it is a good fit or it will not work out well. As an employer hopefully the candidate is assessing me as much as I am assessing them. When I was a younger job candidate, I always tried to interview for ate least 3 jobs at the same time so I could compare and contrast. In two cases I accepted a position for less money because the fit just seemed right.... in both cases it was the right decision. In the first I just learned more. In the second, the company that offered me more went bankrupt a couple of years later :-) Trust your instincts.


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