5 Tips To Nail Your Design Challenge Presentation

Ahh… the design challenge. Love ’em or hate ’em, many employers ask prospective design candidates to complete them as part of the hiring process. Although, it may be easy to dismiss them as giving your prospective employer “free work”, I think that thought process is misdirected. I would assume that most good design challenges ask that you only work on them for 1–4 hours and the intention of a good challenge is to see how you work through a problem. Presenting your challenge is designed to give your prosective employer a window (albeit brief) into what it would be like to work with you. Is this there a culture fit? Did the person have good ideas? How well were they prepared? So here are the 5 tips…

Tip 1: Arrive Early

I know this sounds super obvious but there are technical issues that you may need to overcome to make sure things go off without a hitch. Do you need Internet access? Gaining access could eat away 2–5 minutes and it’s not fun to handle that while everyone is staring at you. What about connecting to a projector or TV? You probably want that too and again, fumbling around with that while everyone is in the room is not fun. Bring a dongle for VGA and HDMI outputs.

Tip 2: Tell Them What You Are Going To Tell Them

If you want to really set the tone that you are prepared and have thought it through, start by telling them what you hope they will remember about your presentation up front. For example, you could say something like, “I am prepared today to walk you through my design challenge where I have concluded the following — we may need to rethink the onboarding process of the app, focus on giving the user more incentive to sign up later in the process and set permission primers for key asks like Contacts permission.” What you are doing here is something I like to call “Anticipation Priming”. Think about UX design when you are presenting. This helps users relax knowing that there are 3 key things they should expect to learn about you. This gives your audience some comfy “guard rails.”

Tip 3: Show Your Process

Do NOT show your final deliverable first. This is the opposite of what needs to happen. Remember, the reason the prospective employer has asked you to complete this exercise is to see how you break down a design problem. Show them exactly that. Did you start with sketches? Did you draw a user flow? Did you develop a list of questions? Show those artifacts and briefly explain your thought process.

Tip 4: Let The Room Breathe

Your prospective employer wants to get a preview of what it is like to collaborate with you. If you feel the need to command the conversation the entire length of the presentation you may risk not giving your audience enough freedom to interject. You want every person in the room to offer some level of feedback on your ideas and thought process.

Tip 5: Have Fun

If you love to be a designer, your passion should be self evident and have fun showing your thought process. Of course, you will be a bit nervous but let your natural enthusiasm shine through.

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