4 interviews, same feedback

So, I’ve had 4 interviews for junior designer positions, 2 phone and 2 in-person. So far, I’ve come up empty.

I’ve gotten the same feedback everytime, which is a lack of experience. They all knew I was a recent grad with internship experience in the field beforehand. I have gotten similar feedback on my work for everyone as well. They think the work is good, my skills are sufficient for what they are looking for.

Every time the interview has gone well, being friendly with one another and starting to build relationships. Each time I’ve left the situation feeling good and confident. But, after dileberation, the same feedback has come up.

I’m wondering from those of you in the forum with experience if there is something I should be reading in between the lines from these experiences?

As far as I can tell, freelance seems to be the best way I can gain experience, but it’s not something I was taught much about in school, and don’t know where to start.

It’s frustrating for me being fresh out of school, and looking for my first full time position to be told I don’t have enough experience.

I understand that these companies need someone who can start contributing as soon as possible, and I think I could do that with a short learning period, but how can I convince an employer to take a chance on me?

Portfolio link? Work speaks for itself and it’s difficult to know if the feedback is about something other than your resume without seeing the work.


Portfolio definitely matters and posting it might help us give better advice.
Especially if it’s a barnburner f a 'folio, then there might be something else at play here that can be traced back to your interview style.

But I assume that you had shared your portfolio perviously with those employers, right?
So in that case I’d assume they have already a good understanding of your strengths and abilities.

My general advice might be to not look for a junior position but rather a good, solid and paid internship.
I’d definitely would recommend that over freelance work. The experience these employers are looking for, you will most likely gain from your peers, good direction and management and great serious clients. This is something that is very hard to come by through freelance work.

I tried the freelance thing too when I was fresh out of school and had trouble finding work but it really didn’t work for me. I needed a nurturing and inspiring environment with great designers around me in order to evolve. Sitting at home and doing some renders for a client I had barely met didn’t help me progress.

You can see my work at Behance

This was my work directly out of school, and I’m currently working on improvements to it, but you are right, all the employers have seen my work and resume prior to interviews.

I made it through a phone interview and got flown out for an in person interview and ultimately got the “not enough experience” feed back. I think part of the problem is that I am interviewing against other designers who aren’t fresh out of school.

I have looked in to additional internships, but most of them require you to be in school that I have found. It may be the way I am talking about my previous internship? I’m not sure.

I don’t know what program you’re using to render but those materials and the lighting of the renders is poor.

I’m aware, I’m in the process of redoing all the renders.

Can i ask what companies you interviewed at or what industries they were in? Also what type of questions did they ask? i.e did they test you on your knowledge of designing for manufacturability - (some schools do not touch on this at all)

Lack of experience can mean many things even for recent graduates (beyond professional work) and sometimes be things that your school did not teach / or the student did not take the time to learn…

pm me and im happy to talk via phone - and ask some probing questions to better help provide you with insight.

For a full time graduate, the portfolio feels light. It may be that you left earlier work out of it, but the work in there feels week and under-developed. The helmet seems to be the biggest example of this - and an example of why I wouldn’t have given you a callback.

You put the topic of that project as “sustainability” but your final result gives no indication that you had given any real consideration to sustainability, how helmets work (and why they need to be discarded after a heavy impact, due to potential structural failures of the foam) or even the users who would wear that. Did you go to a single person who rode a bicycle and say “I’ve proposed this large fabric mohawk” and have them say “that seems great, I would wear that”.

When I look at portfolios, I want to see a Jr. Designer who clearly demonstrates they understood the problem first, then went out and really hammered out ideas and prototypes to decide “this is why I think this is a good idea and how it developed”. That particular project comes off as 2-3 days of effort, but I suspect it could have been a multi-week project and that to me is a red flag.

Lastly, I don’t know if it’s Behance but your fonts all look jagged (not sure if this was made in photoshop with too low of a resolution) and the background patterns are distracting in a lot of the slides. The portfolio feels too heavily worked while the content isn’t worked hard enough.

I would spend a lot of time browsing Behance/Coroflot for other student portfolios and look for areas of improvement. I would also consider redoing or re-working a number of your existing projects or creating a few new ones to add some more meat. Right now it simply feels too thin for a new grad.

Putting the portfolio aspect aside, I’m really surprised they gave you an interview if they thought you lacked experience, did they not ask for your portfolio and resume before the interview?

Agreed, that seems like a serious WOT for everything involved.

Did you get a sense that there was a question where the interviews turned? Or a certain project?

They all had seen my work, and were familiar with it beforehand. In the interviews, I go through my work briefly, they give me the low down on their company and what they are looking for, and we go from there.

With the excepetion of one interview where it became clear very quickly that the interviewer didn’t realize I was a recent grad, all the interviews have gone well only for me to feel somewhat surprised when a few days later they cite lack of experience as the reason they went with another candidate. I’m not sure what’s going on, if its the ways i’m talking about my work, or the ways I’m talking about my experience, or the ways I am responding to their questions, but I’m obviously missing the mark somewhere.

Maybe you can use this in your next interview though and figure out a way to spin your lack of experience with the benefits of a willingness to learn and how that helped you to solve a difficult problem in the past. Just snow balling here… I honestly think it was probably just an easy way to tell you that you didn’t get the position. What are the chances four different groups of people would look at a portfolio and resume that clearly states your experience, and then go through the time and money of an interview process to then just say you don’t have the experience? It doesn’t make sense.

I wouldn’t look too far into “lack of experience”. It sounds to me like a pretty generic cop out reason to give to a recent grad - what ever the actual reason may have been.

Overnight, there’s nothing you can do to suddenly have more experience. Just make sure that in person you’re not coming off as immature. Maybe have a pretend interview with someone you know (preferably someone with hiring experience or at least a decent amount of work experience) and see if they notice anything blatant in your interview style.

With that said, I would polish your portfolio. I would also suggest against focusing on freelance work. The projects you’re likely to reel in won’t be very relatable to the kind of work you ultimately want to get hired for. I’d look for an internship and spend a lot of time redoing your portfolio and adding more projects. Even better if you can find collaborators for your projects.

That’s totally the ongoing plan, Louis. I’m redesigning and editing most of what you see in the portfolio. I’m planning to break them out into individual process books for behance, and compile a document on top of that. I took a break from.working on it over the last few week’s of interviewing and hunting, but I’m putting my foot on the gas going in to the new year.

I totally appreciate the feedback guys, and don’t hold back in the future! I’m so ready and so serious about getting into the workforce, I just need to get my work to reflect that as well!

Second this. It how I got my foot in the door (3-4 paid internships, 4th one turned into junior gig, then got another gig soon after with great mentors. :wink:

I would not worry to much getting rejected a few times. It some times takes a number of interviews to find the right place for you. I think it was maybe 10 interviews for me to get my first full time position.
With that said I would consider countuine work on your portfolio. As mentioned it is not as strong as it could be. I think a number of the other comments here are spot on. But I would say to just keep working at it. I personal did get some good freelance work after my internship that became good experience to land my first full time job. So that can work. Also a really strong internship could really help you.

I have to agree.

The resume & portfolio shows your experience and gets you the interview. The objective of the interview is to see how you fit with the team. Instead of “lack of experience”, they could/should have said “we found a better fit for the team”. And while frustrating to the candidate, they are under no obligation to further define fit.

I think one of the biggest problems with recent grads is they will take any job even though it could be the wrong job. But then again, I would blame the hiring manager for not weeding out the bad fit. The recent grad may not know any better.

Lack of experience is a general term. I would first try to ask your contact persons a bit more about why you were not a good fit; which areas of your portfolio show the lack of experience. Don’t demand an answer, just be polite and ask for their feedback so you can improve your work.

The biggest problem I see with your portfolio is that the final solution does not match the initial task.

  1. The Internet of Collectibles. A bit confusing. You start with toys and collectibles, then you include IOT and then at the end they are just everyday products that look like random toys. These are neither toys, nor collectibles and probably won’t function as well as the intended products. The modeling and rendering also looks a bit primitive. No part-lines or charging ports or cables…

  2. Housewares - Sponge. Good exploration of different products. At the end you chose sponge sanitation. The problem is you only show 5 directions so there is no concept development, refinement, etc. Instead of showing a mood board supporting your CMF decisions you decided to copy another brand’s CMF. The styling seems too harsh and niche, specially for a low income mass market appeal. How is it waterproof, where is the battery, how do you recharge it, etc.

  3. Coffee Maker - Again, a bit confusing. Statement mentions new brand language, line of products, etc. Sketches are more of a re-design of a coffee maker/pot. I don’t know what you achieve by hanging it? The main coffee maker still occupies space in the countertop. The CMF doesn’t work. Cream & blue? It doesn’t fit in a sophisticated kitchen, it sticks out on the jpeg with the traditional kitchen too. How tall is the coffee pot now? Does it even fit under kitchen cabinets? Do you know the standard height of cabinets? How do you heat the carafe, where is the heating element, water reservoir, coffee filter, etc. A coffee maker is a very simple product, you should at least attempt at addressing all of this.

  4. Helmet - Again, you start with sustainability but present a higher visibility solution. It seems like you spent more time on the fin than the actual helmet.

  5. Furniture - Interesting concept. Nice to see a full size prototype.

I think the biggest problem is not sticking to your initial premise or problem. Most of your projects seem like you started with a premise but then guided your work by your favorite idea. At the end you should ask yourself “If I saw this coffee maker at Target, BestBuy, etc., next to the other coffee makers (Braun, Mr. Coffee, Keurig, Cuisinart, etc.) would I buy mine?” How is mine better than the other ones?

Keep going and rework some of your projects. Keep trying to get a junior position but also paid or unpaid internships. You will learn a lot. If I were to hire you I would have to spend months training your thought process.

FWIW, as a hiring manager although I’d like to help people - I would be hesitant to ask for any feedback beyond the actual interview session. There are public and private reasons why you won’t get hired. I haven’t hired people simply because they come off as unenthusiastic and shitty people even though there work is great.

The portfolio is weak, but lack of experience could also show a lack of knowledge about manufacturing, 3D tools, technology, etc - or have just been their nice way of sugar coating the no. Similar to the “not a good fit” messaging which is so often used.

The feedback that was given here, especially your clear comments on how projects are coming across for a new grad are far more valuable than anything you would ever get out of a hiring manager or interviewee, because you have an active goal in trying to be helpful - a hiring manager will not.

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