If you work in learning and development, you have an automatic advantage walking into any job interview. Why? You know how to tell a story. You tell a story every time you step in front of a class, develop an e-learning course, or work in instructional design.
A job interview is just another story. You’re telling your prospective client or employer what you’ve done in the past, keeping in mind which details are going to be most important to them. You focus on the plot points most interesting to your interviewer. And you bring a portfolio that is a visual representation of your story.
Here are some tips to help you assemble your design portfolio:
Your design samples are not the main focus of your job interview. You are. Know your background and know what kind of story you want to share. Think of your portfolio as a prop.
The secret to an amazing design portfolio is simple. Keep everything you work on. At least, anything that shows your current level of skill and reflects your true value. Each time you prepare for a job interview, sift through your design samples and decide which pieces emphasize the most relevant plot points in your story.
Learn about the organization that is interviewing you. Know their branding, the scope of the project you are being hired for, and try to understand what they most value. For example, is the project on a tight budget? Is the organization cutting edge and willing to spend extra time and money for creativity? Bring design samples to the interview that will allow you to talk about your past efficiency, or your amazing creative efforts.
Bring more design samples than you need. More samples make for a more impressive portfolio.
Organize your design portfolio so you can lay it out quickly in front of the client or employer. Here is what I use to organize everything. Spread out the samples. Take at least half of the table. Encourage your interviewer to pick items up and look them over. Let the client or employer wander through your portfolio and pick up what is most interesting to them. Tell your interviewer the story of whatever pieces they pick up. Don’t be afraid to guide the interviewer to particular pieces and explain why you feel those samples are relevant to what they hope to accomplish with you.
In the past, have you produced confidential or proprietary content? Figure out what you are legally allowed to include in your portfolio. Your design portfolio is evidence of your skills. Even if you can’t show a full course or a high quality print of a final product, show what you are allowed to show, tell the interviewer that the sample is a fragment or a low res copy if that’s the case, and still use that sample to breathe life into your story.
What if you didn’t do all of the work on a design you’re showing? Just tell the interviewer and explain your role. Sometimes I show visuals I didn’t personally design. Why? Because they’re associated with training programs or curricula I developed. I tell the prospective client or employer that I didn’t design the poster they’re holding, but it was part of XYZ Training Program I created. I’m establishing credibility by showing my interviewer proof that I really developed that training program. They’re holding a piece of it.
If you haven’t been working as a designer or developer long enough to have lots of client work, feel free to create your own samples branded in the style of a specific company. You can even create examples using the branding of the organization that is interviewing you. Just be sure to tell your interviewer that you created the samples for personal development rather than for a client, if that is the case.
I used to work in retail L&D, and they say that if you can get a customer to pick up a product, there’s a significant chance they will buy it. You can apply that concept to your design portfolio. Go to the job interview prepared to hand your work to a prospective client and tell them who you are as a designer or developer. Good luck!
The post Present the Perfect Design Portfolio at Your Job Interview (Video Included) appeared first on eLearning.