max number of projects

what is a good rule of thumb for the max. number of projects you’d put in:

  • a pdf sample portfolio

  • a printed in-person portfolio

also, what is a good rule of thumb for how long it should take to present your in-person portfolio, i’ve had experiences where they wanted me to hurry-up, thats why i’m asking.

6 for sample portfolio. 12 for full portfolio. I also bring a giant portfolio with everything and full process in case they want to see more or are interested in anything in particular.

Going through the portfolio in an interview could be anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. I’ve also had much longer interviews with multiple teams that last a full day. Depends somewhat on the position and company.


It really really depends on the type of designer you are/the type of portfolio you have. I only have 3 projects in my portfolio, but my focus is on telling the story of the project: the why, how, and what. It’s very in depth and reveals my thinking process in a digestible format, and lends itself to a structured presentation in real life. If each of your projects is only 4 shiny renderings plus a sketch, then you probably wont be able to have as deep of a conversation. I feel like all the projects should build on each other and show your diversity of skill and strength in each one.

If they’re telling you to hurry up, I feel it has less to do with the quantity, and more to do with the fact that they are running low on interest (my guess). What kind of firm are they? Do they care more about aesthetics/sketching, or research/process? How are you presenting them? Are you telling a story, or are you just listing out features? One is more engaging than the other. In my experience, they’ve only told me to hurry up because I was dawdling too long on aspects they didn’t care about (I was going too in depth on research, but they just wanted to see the design process).

Good points Julius.


I like to have (and see) 2-4 case studies (full stories) as diverse as possible, and then 10 or so quick one pagers… when every project is a full story, it can feel very long and drawn out. Alter the pace a bit with different kinds of project. Some that show a specific skill, or strength of yours, and some that show how you bring it all together. Do this across as many different things as possible (for a consulting group) or as tailored to the specific industry you want to work in as possible (for a corporation). That is not to say every project has to be exactly in their wheel house, just that you should be able to position it in a way that is relevant.

thnks. I am still convinced recruiters and placment agencies don’t get it and are extremely literal in what they want. If they are looking for a pop guy for a job ya better have pop samples. this portfolio stuff is exhausting trying to reconfigure everything, create new projects etc.

How much time do interviewers or potential employers spend on reviewing portfolios? Is it something like 8 minutes per portfolio? Or do I have to create a really engaging opening statement or cover page to make the reviewer want to see the rest of my portfolio?