Some tips on how to make your interviewer impressed

An article for fresh product designers — From the interviewer’s POV . 😳

In the past year, I have interviewed lots of designers in South East Aisa. I found out there are some common questions and myths in their mind after I interviewed them.

They might try to figure out: “Hey, Rice. How do I improve my product design portfolio or resume? Should I show all of my skill sets such as Sketch, Photoshop or Flinto in my resume? Or if I know how to use Framer.js, does it have a positive impact on my portfolio?”

These are some new designers’ questions, asking how they should improve their portfolio and be ready for their next interview. Actually, before you apply for product design jobs, it’s better to understand what a product designer does. For me, being a product designer is not about receiving requirements and designing wireframes or visualising and building prototypes quickly.

Product design is not deliverable. Don’t think that there is nothing to do after you have delivered it via Zeplin

Product design is creating something that users LOVE to use. It’s about identifying problems and solving them. A product designer should have multidisciplinary skills and possibly extensive in some areas. They should also know how to design a product from scratch. They can do end to end design beyond just visual design or wireframing. They know how to validate the product by using different design methodologies. They know how to solve problems wisely when they are faced with bottlenecking. Therefore, it’s not just about how many tools you know, but how you designing products people love.

Product design is about collaboration

Here are some tips I want to highlight here for those who want to make their interviewer impressed.

1. About your resume

Recently, I received a resume and opened it. I found out they included some courses they took in school. It wasn’t terrible, but please keep in mind — you shouldn’t put what courses you’ve taken before. If you did a project during this course, you can write down your achievements but don’t write down how many credits you earned. Figuring out what kind of content to put in our resume is one of the biggest points of contention and we think about it for a long time. Today, I provide a basic structure for designing your resume.

  • The number of pages for your resume: Don’t fill more than THREE pages — because HR and the interviewer don’t have enough time to review all of the resumes that come from all over the world. Be concise.
  • Be brief in the first page: Just simply introduce yourself. One paragraph is enough.
  • Work experience: It’s obvious that you need to write down your work experience. However, please don’t exaggerate about your experience. You can describe what you have achieved during this period, the most impressive projects or what you think was the most challenging part of this job.
  • Education: What did you study at university? What kind of degree do you have? But you don’t need to list out all of the courses you’ve taken before.
  • Award/events: Just show related awards. It’s very inappropriate listing out all of the prizes starting from kindergarten 😅. If you have hosted any design workshops or meet-ups, you can write it down and describe how you have influenced the design industry.
  • Design proficiency: Don’t just show your skill sets or put some buzz words into the resume. You can focus more on soft skills such as “How did you help your team approach the design problems?” Don’t display design skills by percentage, it can not be quantified.
  • Interests (optional): Show your personality. Describe your daily life or what you usually do to enrich yourself. For me, I would say I love to join hackathon events, meet up with other designers and fight with my cat Funghi. 😹
  • Don’t forget to list your contact info: It’s the most important part. Write down your contact info so that HR is able to contact you: include your Linkedin, phone number with country code and email. If you love sharing something in Dribbble or Medium, don’t forget put that in your resume.
A typical structure for design resume

2. About your portfolio

Recently, I received a portfolio and opened it. Frankly, I was shocked by this portfolio — because it was just a wireframe, no description in it.

Once I received wireframe with no description and project name.

In terms of portfolios you send to the companies — don’t just give them a wireframe or visual outcome without including your thinking.

It’s better tell them how you approach problems or how you incorporate the user insights into your design.

3. About presentation

If you get the chance to interview with your dream company, it’s time to prepare your presentation for the first round interview. For me, I would like to choose two or three projects and describe them more in depth. Here’s a typical structure for the product design presentation:

Structure for my product design presentation

Don’t just show a project’s name and your solutions — because we don’t have any context for this project. You need to provide the context to the attendees. Try to tell them the story behind this project or your bottleneck. If the problems you faced are about collaboration with other stakeholders, you should describe how you resolve these conflicts with other teammates. If you have some evidence to prove the success of your design, just put it in. It doesn’t matter if it’s qualitative data or quantitative data.

We are not hiring someone who is just good at execution. Design thinking thought, problem-solving capabilities, storytelling, collaboration, system thinking and identifying problems to solutions are some fundamental evaluated points. Talk about the thinking and story behind this project, as well as the most challenging things and how you solved these challenges. 🤘

4. About knowledge

Certainly, it’s common knowledge for designers to put some well-known terms into their portfolio such as contextual inquiry, persona, usability testing, user story, prototyping or information architecture. Using these terms is a way of demonstrating their professional capacity in the product design field.

But do they really understand these terms? E.g. Last time I interviewed a designer how do you define your persona? He actually muttered a few words and couldn’t explain it very well. At that moment, my face looked like 👇👇👇

5. About reality

Don’t exaggerate about yourself. E.g. Your responsibility in this project should be clarified. It’s not good to exaggerated about your contribution if you only did minor tasks.

This article is aimed at helping you get started in the right direction when improving your product design portfolio. These doesn’t cover all the possible tips for the interview. However, it will help you understand basic tips for the interview. 👀