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This portfolio guide will land you interviews
How to use these powerful insights on building your portfolio to land interviews.
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This is your most important UX project
I’ve been hiring designers for the past 5 years. During that time, I’ve seen amazing portfolios and terrible ones. Among all of them, there are a few patterns I see over and over that make my life really hard as a hiring manager.
Your portfolio is the most important aspect of your personal brand and will absolutely determine whether or not you get jobs, making it your most important UX project. I’m inspired by Jyoti Mann, Staff Designer at TikTok, methodology of her two chapters on Audience and Structure — which we’ll explore in this post.
Today, we’ll also explore advice to boost your portfolio’s presence. Let’s go 👇
This portfolio guide will land you interviews (resources at the end)
Key insight takeaways:
Three is the Magic Number — Max 3 great case studies
Don’t show what you don’t love — you need to talk about it
Show your range — different industries, same impact
Make it visual — Use less text and more images.
Add prototypes — not just screenshots and texts
Edit your story. Reduce the number of slides, and make your story crisp.
Keep it simple. Test with non-designers, non-tech friends, and family if they can understand your role; it’ll only be more effective with designers.
Polish. Check your spelling, check your alignments.
Test. Talk to ADPList Mentors — get critiques, and do mock interviews.
Finish your portfolio. It’ll never be perfect, so just time box and finish it in not more than a couple of weeks.
Here’s a simple way to think about the portfolios and make it great:
Chapter 1: The Audience
Whatever the purpose of your portfolio is, there is always an audience it’s meant for.
For this post, I want to focus on finding a new job. In this scenario, I see the portfolio catering to these three:
The recruiters will be the first ones to interact with your portfolio, and you’ll have less than 3 mins to grab their attention. Make sure your portfolio is memorable, whether it’s a graphic, a color, or a picture of you — Make it personal.
Make sure you and your work are easy to discover. Have a presence on multiple platforms for UX design like Dribbble, Linkedin, and Medium. Nominate yourself on sites like Bestfolios.
Detailed out your work and achievements on LinkedIn and your resume, will help the recruiters understand your profile better.
🌶️ Make your portfolio ‘Featured’ on LinkedIn.
Just like recruiters, hiring managers will likely spend 5–10 minutes on your website. But in these 5 minutes, they would want to scan your process. Make sure the content in your case studies is laid out well, and it is easy to understand the steps you took in your design journey.
Your website should intrigue them to know more about you and your work. So keep it concise.
When interviewing for a design position, be prepared to showcase your collaboration skills as well as your design abilities. Highlight experiences of working with team members such as engineers or PM partners.
What is the hiring team looking for?
Your design process should be unique to each project, rather than following a one-size-fits-all model. Tell a story that highlights how you used data or learnings from a failed experiment to guide you to the next step.
🌶️ Tell a story about how you designed a product/feature. Don’t just present slides with titles like Wireframes, explorations, designs, etc.
Your design skills
The hiring team will evaluate the intuitiveness and effectiveness of your designed interaction. Visual design should align with the product's needs. If you didn't get to explore visual design, present your own take on it.
🌶️ Use your presentation to highlight your visual skills.
Your soft skills
During an interview, showcase your soft skills by discussing your adaptability with changing requirements and your self-awareness by reflecting on past failures and how you would handle them differently.
Should you use a website or a presentation deck?
Your website will be mostly used by recruiters and then hiring managers to decide if you should be interviewed. The presentation is where you can have an interactive session with the team and present your work in more detail.
Think about the website as your movie trailer and the presentation as the actual feature. Use the trailer to invite folks to buy the movie ticket (Interview calls) and the actual movie to immerse themselves and come back for more from you. (Hire!)
🌶️ Try not to present from a website in the interviews.
Chapter 2: The Structure
Portfolio presentations during interviews are usually 30–45 mins, followed by 15 mins of Q&A.
Begin with a personal introduction — Highlight your background,
experiences, and key events that shaped your design career.
Follow it by showcasing your best and most relevant work — Prioritize projects you are most proud of, and try to present your recent work so that it’s easier to evaluate your current level.
End with a bonus slide- (if time permits) A value proposition on why you’ll be a good fit or what all you love working on.
Building a case study
The most important part of your portfolio is the case study. Regardless of the medium, the foundational structure of a presentation or website remains consistent. Here is how I generally structure each case study :
So how do you make amazing case studies?
1. UX portfolios have too much text.
This is probably going to be controversial. I know it goes against most of the advice you see elsewhere online. But hear me out.
They won’t admit it, but they don’t read most of what you write.
Even if the recruiter has time to read, it’s tough to properly judge UX from looking at wireframes and mocks. The best way to evaluate an onboarding or a purchase flow is to use the product.
🌶️ If available, you should provide links to shipped products and interactive prototypes. Also, recruiters are not your target audience. They might not appreciate your solution as much as your real users would.
2. Show as much UI and visual design as you can
Maybe you don’t think you’re good enough at UI. However, if you want to get more interviews, my recommendation is to get good at it in your portfolio.
Here’s the wild part: When recruiters see amazing UI, they immediately assume that the designer is also amazing at UX.
This is the attractiveness bias. We attribute unrelated positive qualities to beautiful things. It’s true for people, architecture, and also for design portfolios.
🌶️ I know, it’s wrong. I’ve worked with great UI designers who were terrible at UX, and vice versa. Still, when I see great UI, I can’t shake off that feeling.
If you want to make it as easy as possible to get interviews, focus on UI.
UI gets you the interview. UX gets you the job
🌶️ Recruiters source hundreds of portfolios. They make quick judgment calls based on first impressions, narrow it down to a few candidates. Then, they reach out and talk about UX.
That’s all folks. Hope this helps you build your UX portfolio and land your next job!
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