Hi, guys, I have an interview coming soon for a junior product designer position. I hope to get some advises about interview skills. Some questions in my mind are like:
How many projects do you generally show and talk about?
How long should it take for every project and for total presentation during the interview?
My classmate told me that it should not take long; just show every project within a couple of minutes. But the design consultancy I will go is famous and they seem look so professional. Their design and art director will interview me. I feel confused. Should I just give them a quick and clear brief or go through every pages with details for every design process I have done?
Should I just call their first name or Mr.XXX? ( it sounds like a silly question )
As English is not my native language, any advice for me?
My biggest interview tip: make sure it flows like a conversation. Try not to be so concerned with failure/screwing up the interview that you come off mechanical or give the interviewer the sense that you’re too nervous. They brought you in to talk, so talk to them. Best of luck.
Agreed. An interview goes both ways… and by this I don’t mean interrogate the interviewer (I’ve had that… weird). Make it a conversation, and remember everything is a part of the interview. I remember interviewing someone we had flown in when I was working in Portland. Casually at the beginning of the interview before we sat down I asked the person how he like Portland…“uh, I do’t know, so rainy, it is depressing”… interview over.
When I interview I make it as conversational as possible. When I interviewed at frog I brought a bag full of products I had worked on, laid them out on the table and asked which ones they wanted to hear about. I kept in mind that I wanted to talk about examples of leadership, innovation, research, design for production, factory visits, working with a large corporation, navigating politics, and I worked those stories into whatever product were chosen by the interview panels I was talking to that day.
Most of the time, if you have the interview, your work meets the minim bar for acceptance, from there on out it is about your personality fit. I’ve interviewed people with excellent work who I did not hire because they didn’t seem like the right personality. Too meek, too strong willed, not collaborative, not confident enough… it all depends on the shape of the existing team and what the hiring manager is looking to add. Try asking them what type of team player they need? A rockstar? An executer? Someone who can present to clients and execs? A generalist? A specialist? Someone who can manage a project? Someone who can inspire the team?
So be yourself, do your best, keep it conversational, ask questions (and adjust your content accordingly) and ask for feedback. If you are not a good fit now, you might be in the future, or the hiring manager might even know another place you would be a great fit for. When top shelf talent came in that we didn’t have the right spot for at my first job my boss there (Aaron Szymanski at Evo) would go out of his way to help the person find a spot if he felt there was a fit at client or even at a competing firm! It built loyalty and good will. I try to do the same when I can.
This is really interesting to read about how you went about your interview there! I will be doing interviews for third year placement soon (in the UK, we work in industry as a junior for the third year), do you recommend doing this with models and a shelf product or two if possible for a junior position too?
If you can pull it off. It really depends on how you can handle non linear conversations and if you can organically work in your talking points. For a junior position I’d still want to see work process examples so I would have that as well.
Totally awesome. I have always felt it was difficult to cover the projects about which the interviewer was interested in hearing the most. A portfolio has the negative side of being linear – you might get caught up in the beginning and never even get to the end sometimes. Putting all the choices out at once is a nice strategy.
Yo, what would you say is the best quantity to aim for in a portfolio? I know it’s a silly question you must get a lot but for a junior designer position I’m really keen to know and hoped you could advise. I’ve seen portfolios posted in the forums with a heck of a lot of work/pages for each project and I initially was thinking about condensing each project into two pages (double page spread). I do also have ideas on using full blee photos of sketches on the wall and product photographs purely for effect, though this would increase the number of pages - what are your thoughts on this for interviews for junior designer positions? I’d love to gain insight into this from you as a proffessional that interviews others regularly.
My interview for a footwear internship I brought a ski boot I did as my final project in school. It was a great tool for using to get the conversation started. You could point to aspects that you developed in sketching. Then the design director broke off a buckle and it was really funny. I think I got the internship from just pity for breaking my model. But it was great because it showed a lot about my personality. A lot of new designers might have freaked out or got bent out of shape. But we just all had a good laugh and I said “I can fix that latter no problem.” To Yo’s point don’t bring models if you are not comfortable being spontaneous.
more not less. I’ve had some many people come in with just a few projects, and 2-3 pages on each. I usually take the book and flip through at my speed (lots of students will stay on one page for 10 minutes… not going to happen). At my speed I can look through 20 pages in about 5 mins. Bring a lot of stuff. You can always skip pages or projects based on how it is going.
When I interview I bring about 20-30 projects and typically talk about 5-10.
Blimey! That’s a first to hear to be honest. We are told in school don’t have more than five projects, each of only 2 pages for the portfolio. Could you perhaps suggest a logical explanation as to why it would be better to bring more? Of course it must be quality over quantity but I’ve been busting my backside all summer and along with the new projects we’ll be doing in school for the third year placement deadline I really couldn’t get away with a 10 page portfolio. As I said, I want to use engaging full bleed photos across two spreads once or twice, along with some more impacting pages with a lot of white/textured space but I have a feeling that our lecturers will have a fit with some of that… Any ideas as to what I could say that would be logical to them when argueing my case? (Apart from quoting what you said on here of course…)
I think possibly your instructors are not telling you the big picture.
They are correct in that the interviewer will only look at a few projects, we don’t have all the time in the world to interview. And we only need a couple of pages to understand your process. We are not idiots. We understand this type of stuff. We are professionals. We certainly don’t need the didactics of a student, so you don’t need to say much. Be prepared to answer a lot of questions though.
That said, limiting yourself to 5 seems silly. Yes, we will only look at five projects, but which 5? That is why you can bring more than 5. I’ll skim through quickly and talk about what I what to talk about. There is no foul if I don’t want any more information about the other projects.
And don’t try to make it a formal presentation. It always comes across as forced. I will learn about your presentation skills just by our interaction.
thanks for everyone’s suggestions. They are really useful to me. Luckily (Maybe), the company postponed my interview, so I could see more advices from here.
Yo, thank for your valuable advices again! I have a question. You mentioned you typically talk about 5-10. Does it mean for all projects or for each one? If it is former, it will be very short time for each project. My strategy at the moment is to talk four complete projects ( 5-10 for each one ), and to show the rest of projects very quickly. I am confident that those four project I want to talk are expressive in my portfolio, so should I still explain the brief, the problems and the design research in a very detailed way or just try to talk about them simply ( even in one sentence )? I think my problem is I want to try my best to show all of my skills and every pieces of work I am proud of, but I really worry they will feel bored if I talk too much since everyone suggested to make the interview conversational and personality is most important.
Liam Carter-Hawkins, your tutors are right, BUT this portfolio you are working would only go with your CV. This means you might need another portfolio for the interview. The point is you have to show the most exciting parts of some of your best works you are proud of in a visual way. Employers receive too many portfolios everyday, so they won’t spend much time going through everyone’s portfolios especially for entry level designers. This portfolio you are working now is only the ticket that leads you to an interview, so try to make it impressive and stand out. If someone is interested in it, they will invite you to talk about more.
Most young designers are horrible editors of their own work. Not a critique, this comes with time. Show more, show larger. I hate seing a page full of sketches that are all 2cm x 2cm. Come in with big prints. Blow me away. At my interview for nike I brought a 4 foot x 15 foot print of she concept sketches exploring manufacturing techniques, fit concepts, and light weight/flexible constructions… something like that is memorable.
Don’t have a good portfolio, have a great one. Put yourself in the interviewers chair. Use you design skills to develop a portfolio that creates a memorable and pleasurable experience for the interviewer. 10 a4 pages are not going to cut it.
and don’t walk through the sample portfolio you sent with your CV. I’ve already seen that.
In terms of the ‘cover’ portfolio sent with your CV prior to the possibility of an interview, what would you guys reccommend for showing in order to gain interest? For a junior position, would the cover portfolio want to consist of more process work or should that wait for the interview? So, should it consist of more fancy ‘look how great my work is’ shots or process shots? I just wondered what would gain the most interest…
Don’t write your resume in the Third Person. I just had one come across my desk and it read like it was trying to be a PR release. Needless to say, the qualifications weren’t anywhere what they should be to pull that kind of thing off.
The folio you send with your resume or CV should be a good cross section of your skills. Every employer will look for something a little different, but I can let you know what I look for:
evidence of critical thought: Our team can teach a new hire a lot of things on the job, but thinking is a difficult one. Show me how you thought of a problem differently. Break it down super simple, problem statement, research, insights, ideation, iteration, variation, solution. Empathize with an end user, solve a problem, show both visually with as little to no words as possible.
world class skills: ideation sketching, concept sketches, design CAD, hot renders, design for production CAD (or at least an inkling of this). Hot, big glossies of each of these have to be somewhere in the portfolio.
form development with purpose: show an understanding of semantics and symbolism through form. Show control of form (ie I made it this way for these reasons) and variation (ie not everything in the portfolio should look like a rounded brick, or a blobject, or whatever you personally like).
curiosity and variety: I want people who are curious about everything and can’t help but designing things, assigned to them or not. I always look for this in a portfolio. For example, Cameron Nielsen, who posts here often and I hired at Sound United had a baby teether in his portfolio. He had recently had a child, had an idea and it was something he felt he just had to visualize. I like that.
ambition: take on more than you can chew. Design that appeals to the highest common denominator vs the lowest. I don’t tend to hire executers, I like to hire people who will drive a project and push.
do that in 10-20 slides for the application portfolio. Show more in the interview.