Design Portfolio Tips

Design Portfolio Tips: Stand Out in Creative Interviews

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Preparing for a creative interview? Our Design Portfolio Tips will help you showcase your skills and creativity more effectively. And hopefully, land the job you’re applying for. Preparing for a big design interview can be quite intimidating, especially when trying to showcase both yourself and your portfolio in the best light possible.

Your portfolio is a reflection of your creativity, skills, and professional journey, so it’s crucial to present it in a way that really captures your skills and talents. But it’s not just what you present, often it’s how you present that work. Below, we will delve into a variety of helpful tips that could help you to build an striking creative portfolio that stands out in the interview room and leaves a lasting impression. First and foremost...

How many pieces of work should you include?

A common dilemma many young designers may face is not knowing how many pieces of work to include within the scope of their portfolio. As a rule of thumb, we usually recommend featuring between 14 to 20 pieces. Anything less might fail to demonstrate the extent of your abilities. A wider range of work will allow you to display both diversity and consistency in the quality of your work across different projects. Ultimately, it’s about striking the right balance between quantity and quality. If you think that certain work deserves a place in your portfolio, include it. Just try to remember that everything you include should serve a purpose.

•For less experienced designers, we recommend striving for 14 pieces of work.

•For more experienced designers, we recommend between 14 and 20 pieces of work.

Which work should you include?
Tailoring Content for the Job.

Select pieces that are truly your own, or those in which you played a significant role in creating. It’s important to tailor your portfolio for the specific role you’re applying for, so prioritise the most relevant work for the job. This means that the composition of your portfolio should be dynamic, changing and evolving based on the job you’re applying for.

What not to do...

Try to avoid including work that lacks commercial viability; professionalism is key here.

For instance, as impressive as your holiday photos might be, they may not have a place in your professional portfolio unless they are relevant to the job. Your favourite abstract painting might be nothing short of a masterpiece, but if it’s a digital design role for a sports brand, again, perhaps not the right place for it. Select the work you choose to include wisely and thoughtfully.

Conversely, if you think that your portfolio is not diverse enough, then it might be worth showcasing some self-projects that show artistic flair and skill. It’s not about jamming every piece of work you have ever done into a folder and calling it a portfolio, it’s about curating your work to achieve your goal.

How you present your work is as important as what you present

The arrangement of your work can considerably impact its reception. There are a few ways of arranging your work...

1. Chronologically (from present to past)

This method showcases your progression as a designer, highlighting how your skills and styles have developed over time. This is often great for designers who are earlier into their career.

2. Categorically Grouped

If your portfolio is diverse and you have a significant amount of work, grouping similar works can provide a clearer understanding of your expertise in different areas. This is especially so if you are an experienced designer.

Remember that portfolios are often left open during an interview, so it’s advisable to start and finish with strong pieces. This will help to leave a lasting impression.

Aligning with Employer Expectations

Aligning your portfolio with the expectations of the employer is crucial in demonstrating not only your creative capabilities, but also your ability to meet the needs of the company. Your portfolio should serve as a mirror, reflecting the skills and experience asked of in the job description, and what you can bring to the company as an individual.

From the outset, your presentation should be arranged to highlight projects that showcase…

  • Relevant skills

  • Design sensibilities and,

  • Problem solving skills.

If an employer is unable to perceive some kind of connection between your work and their needs within the initial moments of viewing your portfolio, it’s a sign that you should reconsider your approach. Try incorporating brief narratives or case studies that outline your thought process, often it’s the thought process and problem-solving skills that really count.

By telling the story of how you achieved specific outcomes, you can enhance the relevance of your work, making it easy for a potential employer to envisage you as a valuable asset to their team. In summary, while your portfolio should intrigue, excite, and inspire, its primary focus should be to affirm that you are the right fit for the role.

Showcase Your Personality

As discussed above, your portfolio showcases your work, but it’s also a direct reflection of your personality. Creating a compelling portfolio is a nuanced art that balances professionalism with personal flair. It’s an opportunity to differentiate yourself in a very saturated industry.

So, by transforming your portfolio from just a collection of random work into a carefully thought-out narrative of your design experience will speak volumes about who you are as a creative professional.Here is a variety of ways to infuse your personality into your portfolio.

1. Presentation Style

The way in which you present your work can be as telling as the work itself. From the typography and the colour palette to the entire format of your portfolio (digital, print, or both), every aspect should be selected to reflect what you are trying to exhibit. A clean sleek design may convey a minimalistic style and therefore a preference for more streamlined designs, while a colourful and vibrant aesthetic may reflect a more bold and experimental personality. The world is truly your oyster here.

2. Storytelling

Every piece of work you present in your portfolio will have a story, the challenge it addressed, the creative process employed to overcome that challenge, and the impact it achieved. So, by weaving these stories into your portfolio, you not only provide context to your work, but showcase your personality through your personal narrative style. This could be via annotations throughout your work or more detailed case studies of each project. It allows you to demonstrate your thought process, worth ethic, and personal values.

3. Personal Branding Elements

Include elements that reflect your unique brand, or your personal brand. This may include a logo, a consistent colour scheme, or simply a signature style across your portfolio. These personal branding elements may contribute to a more recognisable personal brand identity and thus, reflect aspects of your personality.

Creating a personal brand is increasingly spoken about, but often our reputation is confused with our personal brand. For the purpose of clarity, it’s not. We all have a reputation, but most of us have never really sat down and defined our own personal brand. Your personal brand is what can set you apart from the competition since nobody can ever really be you. Even if they were to try to imitate.

Your personal brand is a sincere and intentional representation of your values, your motivations, and the thing that gets you out of bed each morning; it’s what you aspire to be 10-years down the track from now, imbued into the work you have done or are planning to do. Defining your personal brand provides you with the power to align your intentions with your actions. However, a brand is not a brand without visibility, so by being present online or defining a unanimous voice throughout all your work will help you to establish your personal brand. The more authentic your personal brand is, the more likely you are at achieving success.

4. Interactive and Engaging Features

Interactive content is a brilliant way to capture the attention of your audience and really showing off the HOW in how your audiences experiences your creative work. You are truly the conductor of your creative orchestra at this point. Creating an engaging and interactive aspect of your portfolio will really set you above the rest. It not only displays your skills in creating digital work but showcases your ability to tell your creative story.

5. Reflect Your Design Ethos

Your design ethos should be the foundation of your portfolio. Whether you’re driven by sustainability, inclusivity, or innovation, your values should be evident throughout. This alignment offers a deeper insight into your motivations and aspirations as a designer. By thoughtfully expressing your personality throughout your work, you not only showcase your skills and achievements, but who you are as a person and a professional. This personal touch will not only differentiate you from all the other applicants, but will allow the employer to understand you better as a person, ultimately benefiting you both. It’s important to remember on your job-hunting journey, that it is as important to find your place as it is for the employer to find the right person. After all, you will be spending a pretty significant amount of time there.

6. Print vs Digital Portfolios

The big question… and a common conundrum. Ideally, having both available allows you to cater to different interview formats. Digital portfolios are more easily accessible and easy to share via email quickly and easily. Print portfolios, on the other hand, offer a tangible experience that can be more impactful in face-to-face interviews. If your work is purely digital, then the answer is already clear...

But when deciding between print and digital for those whose work is not always digital, consider the nature of your work, who you will be interviewing for, and the specific requirements of the role. For the most part, we would recommend having both formats available as it allows employers to look back on your work, when you’re not in the room, as they consider whether you’re a suitable fit for the role. Not having a digitised version of your portfolio may put you at a disadvantage. Plus, a lot of printed work can no be digitised like this or this.The most important thing to remember here is knowing your audience and the job you’re applying for.


In conclusion, crafting a compelling portfolio is an opportunity to express your talent, your professionalism, and your values and principles. By meticulously selecting and curating the work you want to present, aligning with employer expectations, and infusing your personal brand into your presentation, you can create powerful impact and a lasting impression. Don’t forget that you want to land the right job for YOU, so if it doesn’t work out the first time, thank your lucky stars because it may not have been the job for you.