Portfolio & Interview Advice, Alongside a Side Order of Pizza! - Experience Haus
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Portfolio & Interview Advice, Alongside a Side Order of Pizza!

As a beginner getting ready to launch yourself into the design industry, the hardest part can be taking that first step. Who should you be reaching out to? What questions should you prepare?How many jobs should you be applying for? It’s enough to make your head spin! In an industry that’s continuously growing, it’s crucial that you make yourself stand out from the crowd.

One way by doing so is building out your network and reaching out to senior designers for their advice on breaking into the industry. At Experience Haus, we’re lucky enough to have fantastic relationships with recruiters and agencies that are more than happy to give up their time to chat to our students who are coming to the end of their courses and about to start the daunting job hunt! A couple of weeks ago, we were joined a second time by the fantastic team at YLD agency who shared their pearls of wisdom with our students, as well as a few slices of pizza!

Making the portfolio POP

Showing your ability as a designer and passion about your chosen discipline on your portfolio is crucial. If you’re applying for UI designer roles, it may sound obvious, but you need to be able to show you actually know how to build user interfaces!

The other important aspect to highlight is your thought process behind your designs: the journey from initial idea, through to the final product and how you can to that, including aspects like user research, any struggled you had and how you managed to overcome them.

Finally, put a bit of you in it! Hiring teams and recruiters will be sent hundreds of similar portfolios, so ensure you put a bit of your personality in it to make sure it stands out.

Some useful advice our alumni gave was to never view your portfolio as ‘finished’. You can always updated as you do but don’t want on having the ‘perfect portfolio’ before you start sending it out.

Interview after interview

Landing your first role in any industry can involve what feels like a never ending stream on interviews where you’re having the same conversations and asked the same questions. Although it can feel tedious, try to view each interview as a learning opportunity and the more interviews you go through, the more confidence and prepared you will feel for the next one.

Walking someone through your portfolio can feel quite off-putting, especially to junior designers.  The team at YLD had some excellent advice for our students, reminding them that those interviewing them probably don’t have the same knowledge as they do and to use it as an opportunity to demonstrate all that they know. Explaining the thinking and process behind certain parts of your portfolio is equally as important as to what is on there.

If you are successful after a first interview, it is likely you will be set a small task to do before your second. Make sure the team clarify exactly how long they expect you to spend on the project so you can plan your time better and this will help you receive fair judgement. Applying for jobs can be a full-time job in itself so you want to make sure you’re not spending too long on each individual task. Nevertheless, these tasks you’re given are another great opportunity for you to practice your newly learnt skills and become more and more confident.

Finally, remember, as much as it is an interview to see if you’re the right fit for the role, it’s also important for you to get a feel for the company to gauge whether it’s somewhere you would like to work at. Therefore it’s important to have your own questions to ask the interviewer: what are the biggest challenges the design team faces? Are there any training opportunities? Is there support for your own professional development? What do they expect you to achieve in your first 6 months in the role?

Taking that first step from student to designer can be a scary experience but we’re here to support you in any way we can. Whether that’s doing interview practice workshops, portfolio reviews, or introducing you to fantastic designers like the team at YLD, we’ve got you covered! Huge thanks to the team at YLD for coming in for another ‘lunch and learn’ with our students. Hopefully we’ll have another session soon with more delicious pizza!

Thursday 17th August, 2023

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