"Style does not fit" rejection

I am an industrial design graduate looking for a post grad internship/junior level opportunity. Over the past several weeks I applied to various industrial and product design firms/consultancies/companies. My usual routine involves finding various places of interest then trying to understand their design approach and of course whether I have some interest in their product/aesthetic range. If a place fits certain criteria, I would apply (most people probably approach applying the same way). Sometimes I receive followup emails after I apply with my submitted work and cover letters. However, every so often I have been told that despite the firm/company saying my work is decent, they do not believe I would fit their company or would fit in well given my work.

I understand that in the end I have no real say over a hiring manger and they know better than I, but I still feel like if my skill set and design thinking were considered decent or acceptable, they would at least consider me for a trial. As designers are we not meant to be adaptable?

Otherwise, do these types of responses actually mean I am not good enough for those particular companies? Or am I over thinking this and they genuinely do think I am not a good match for them? I would love to hear some opinions on this matter or similar experiences, but in the end I probably just need to get over these types of comments and keep hoping for the best.

Hard to comment without seeing your stuff and only hearing your take on the feedback. Post up some samples of your work and I’m sure we can give some honest, constructive criticism.

Feedback from applications may sometimes be specific or general but hard to gauge depending on the firm, your work, the position, etc.

Best is to take feedback with a grain of salt and just work on moving forward. Posting here is a good start. Don’t think of opportunities you missed but those in the future. Learn from feedback and move forward.


The fit may not be your style of work but more your attitude or the way you present yourself (im not saying this is true as i dont know you or how you come across but putting it out there as a alternative to it being your work). So many times I hear designers say they didn’t get the job and everyone immediately goes to the portfolio. Keep in mind the hiring process is more then just about your raw talent…

How are you going to fit in with the exiting team
Are you confident or cocky (this one is a fine line)
Are you a go getter / passive / or overly aggressive
Are you a team player / or is everyone on your team just dragging you down (actually had a designer tell me once that every team he had been on just prevented him from creating good designs.

These an many more things are being evaluated of you by the hiring manage above and beyond just your id skills and portfolio

Another perspective after re-reading the OP is this… I once applied for a design job doing baby toys… the hiring manager contacted me and said he loved my work and my style and that he just came from Black and Decker where he was the design manager. And if he was still at BandB he would hire me hands down, but he felt my style didn’t fit that of baby toys. To hard edge and aggresive vs soft and gentle. He explained that he needed a designer to hit the ground running and couldn’t take the risk that i wouldn’t be able to adapt my style. Looking back now and learning from some of the post i’ve seen on Core I could and should have done two things… Created a baby toy to add to my portfolio before sending it to show my adaptability, or Asked the hiring manager to provide me with a factitious project out line and designed a toy for him to prove that i could adapt my style.(as i felt i could)

Someone once told me that you don’t get paid for what you might be able to do, you get paid for what you demonstrably can do. Chevis’s advice is accurate. Try broadening the projects in your portfolio and always show something applicable to the job you are applying for.

mro11, yes, designers should be adaptable, but you have to show your ability to do so as everyone has a varying range.

Thank you guys for the responses. I will try to take what was written here to heart and develop my range. I realize that I often look through a “teams/members” section of a website to see if they show employee profiles to better understand what skill level they look for, but every so often they do not list names. Does anyone here think it is odd or unreasonable to ask for a portfolio of someone accepted to a particular company of interest? Otherwise it makes sense to simply increase the breadth of my portfolio/or have multiple. In the end I think it was simply discouragement that made me feel like I have to basically scrap everything and begin again. Hopefully I can return here with better news and better outlook that I can share as well. Thanks again

Edit: Oh, and here is a link to samples of my work to get a better idea. I am still developing many aspects of my portfolio like many other designers and hope to continue to improve myself.


(first 6 pages are meant to be seen as spreads)

I don’t have any experience hiring designers so I don’t have a good perspective on the wording of the rejection, but I do have a few thoughts on your portfolio. Firstly, I don’t know if it’s because of google docs or if it was your save settings, but you need to have better quality images. Portfolios are a visual medium, so it needs to be visually stunning. It looks like you lost a lot of colors on your images, degrading them to a level that is not worth whatever file size savings you had. Secondly, you need to give the projects context, even if it is just a sample portfolio. Those first three projects might be decent, but I have no idea if you were successful in solving the problem you were given. Were you supposed to be designing a watch for the Ferrari brand, or did you just decide to make a watch match a car on a whim? That shoebox looks like it had some thought, but I don’t know what the benefits are or why that shoebox needs to exist in the first place. Show some of the thought and intention behind these projects and you may have more success.

Also, if this is the teaser you’re sending out I’d ditch the last two pages. Especially when showing samples, it’s better to show just a few strong projects than try to go for quantity and include weaker work.

Seurban, the pdf has lost a lot of resolution/color so I understand where you are coming from about the lack of awe. I am looking around for a nice PDF uploading type of site like ISSUU, but with better consistency (if possible). So, if you have any suggestions that would be great, otherwise I am still working on building a personal website.

Also, I meant for the linked pages to just help get an idea of my skill range since my current portfolio is undergoing changes and I can see how it would be confusing out of context, so I apologize for that. As for the last two pages, I would really like to show some other interests that are somewhat design related since I do have an interest in ceramics/pottery as well.

Would you or anyone else here suggest that I make a separate work portfolio of miscellaneous projects or is that considered a waste of time? I would like to show that I have some creativity beyond the realm of industrial/product design, but if you think they are a waste then I guess I will take that into consideration.

Wasn’t able to see link for some reason. Didn’t seem to be working in Safari.

You should share with us exactly what it was you showed in your interviews, that way we can best gauge their response.

Based on what you have already shared with us I can offer the following advice.

Show context, I know you’re still working on your portfolio, pick one project, flush it out in full context, move on to the next one until you have a full body of work in full context.

Ditch any and all “practice” marker renderings and never let them see the light of day in your portfolio. You have some marker renderings that are clearly from classroom exercises/assignments. I am referring specifically to the page with the tape recorder, pencil sharpener, etc. This isn’t design, it is illustration, illustration is a skill, highlight how you use that skill to communicate your own ideas and concepts, in doing that it will be clear that you have the skill and know how to apply it.

I see where you are going with the watch concepting and where you are drawing your inspiration from. Hand sketching is important, marker rendering not so much. If you have 3d or Photoshop renderings you need to show this skillset, it is the expected illustration medium required for most ID positions and may very well be where the style comments are coming from.

Have you talked to any of them in person? At least where I work fitting in personality-wise is almost as important as your skills matching what we need. We spend a lot of long hours working together and things just go faster when everyone gets along, it’s also easier (and more fun sometimes) to critique designs from someone you get along with/know well because you won’t be as worried about offending them.

Have you ever sent them any computer models/renderings? Different companies use a different mix of hand sketches and computer models in their design process, but it’s always a good idea to show that you can illustrate an idea in a variety of mediums.

Good advice given in this thread already.

I’d also like to emphasize the point of being clear about what you want to communicate with each project you show. The less projects you are actually including into your teaser, the more important this becomes.

I’ve found it to be effective to mix up the pacing of the portfolio, i.e. to alternate quick projects with a clever solution that basically explain themselves with more complex, research and analysis based projects.
Personally, I like the inclusion of crafty work as well as it shows your ability to work with your hands.

100% agree with bepster. mix up the pace. I only every really showed 2-3 in depth projects, and then 10-12 one pagers that I could mix up based on what was appropriate to the audience.