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Wireframe prototype of Perlego’s mobile app

5 Things a Design Task Reveals About You (That Your Portfolio Cannot)

…and why we look for raw talent over polished portfolios.

Perlego is at a very crucial time of its growth and we are looking for new, talented individuals to join us on our mission to make education accessible to all. Finding the right people to join us is a vital part of scaling successfully and we have worked hard to streamline the interview process.

Across both engineering and design, we have included take-home tasks in this process. This is a somewhat controversial topic among creatives.

Why do we believe Design Tasks are valuable?

01. The majority of the work in portfolios (juniors in particular) are created in teams, worked on for months and directed, reviewed and managed by a senior member of the team. This makes it hard to truly assess your individual skills. With the shared context, Design Tasks are a way that we can get a taste of how you work and what it might be like working together.

02. We don’t only look for pretty, polished portfolios but rather raw talent, passion and an interesting way of thinking. When requesting a design task we are giving people equal opportunity to demonstrate their abilities — leading to a fairer review process.

Image of person arranging hand-drawn wireframes on desk

5 things we assess in a Design Task

🤔 Problem-solving skills

How do you interpret a brief and tackle a problem?
We really want to see how your mind works, whether creatively or methodically. We love to see your process and look for people who think in an interesting way and can effectively solve problems.

📐 Structure

How do you structure your time?
Time management is a big one. Do you complete the task in the allocated timeframe? How have you managed your time? Maybe you timebox parts of the design process and work on it over a week or give yourself a strict time limit so you can smash it out in half a day — there is no right or wrong way, but time management reveals a lot about your personality and way of working.

How do you structure your thoughts?
The ability to organise and articulate your thoughts is very important. You learn a lot about someone’s inner workings by the way they present information.

⭐️ Prioritisation

With the limited timeframe, there is no way you can execute the full end-to-end design process — and we don’t expect that.
Part of the challenge is choosing what to prioritise. It is also very telling what you choose. Some people get caught up in the research phase, others might jump to assumptions quickly and spend time crafting the design solution.

🛠 Work ethic

Do you put a lot of effort into the task or just do the bare minimum? When assessing a task it is easy to see which of the above categories you fall into. We understand people are busy and Design Tasks can be tiresome, but we do believe this small demonstration of work says a lot about how you might approach particular challenges in the work environment.

💭 Thinking on the spot

Can you answer questions and think creatively on the spot?
This ability shows how in-depth you have gone into understanding the problem and exploring potential solutions. Do you have thought-out rationales for your design decisions and are you comfortable being challenged and/or taking feedback. These are important skills to have when working in a team.

We are looking beyond polished portfolios and for the raw talent and passion we believe is essential in a creative.

*️⃣ Note: At Perlego, we strive to make the tasks as fair as possible. We appreciate the time and effort they take and we think long and hard about the type of task and requirements that we set.

We do not:

  • Set unrealistic expectations. We don’t expect you to produce an entire app (for example) — we are just trying to better understand you and what it might be like working with you on a project.
  • Write opened ended briefs that could take you weeks to do (let alone decipher). We aim to strike the perfect balance of clarity, context and freedom. We clearly outline what we want to see, give you the context needed to tackle the problem but also the freedom to execute it in a way that suits you — your way of working and your current situation.
  • Give people the task if we don’t believe they stand a real chance at getting the job — we respect your time and do not want to waste it.
  • Share the tasks with people outside the interview process or use it as a way to generate ideas for our product. This is not free work!

In conclusion

We understand the scepticism when it comes to design tasks and urge all businesses to be considerate when setting them. They are meant to make the hiring process fair and ensure the right person gets the job. We are looking beyond polished portfolios and for the raw talent and passion we believe is essential in a creative.

We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t really think they were necessary. If we could hire you off the bat and save us all time, we would — pinky promise.

Thinking you would ace our design task? Apply to be a designer at Perlego 👀

Thinking of growing your design career? Here are a few useful books:

🌈 Creative Confidence (a must-read!)

💡 Design Thinking

👌 100+ Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People

✏️️ Becoming a Graphic and Digital Designer



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