How to prepare for product design job interviews

Step-by-step guide

Optimize your time. Test your presentation on peers. Iterate. Get feedback. Practice. Get hired.

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Portfolio presentation FAQ

They‘re short, checklist-style and presentation-centric.

Read the FAQ

Articles on the hiring process

You get in-depth explainers on how hiring works. We recommend practicing more, however.


The fast track to your portfolio presentation

These tasks are designed to get you interview-ready as soon as possible.

Step 1. Test your presentation draft with a peer.

Review basic facts about interviews.
Explain one project.
Watch a candidate's presentation.
Design a presentation for just one project.
Practice your presentation.

Step 2. Learn from feedback, add complexity, and practice again.

Describe one more project.
Introduce yourself.
Update your presentation.
Book a peer for the next week.
Practice your presentation a second time.

Step 3. Practice more and pick your best take.

Practice your presentation a third time.
Pick the video you want to share with hiring managers.
The video you picked becomes your profile.

Step 4. Hiring managers will connect with you.

Hiring managers reach out to you directly.
You can continue practicing and replace the video you share as you see fit.

Portfolio presentation FAQ Structure, layout, content, and approach

How interviews work and what is expected from a candidate (you)

A typical interview for a product designer job almost always includes a past work interview, also known as a portfolio presentation.

You want to come prepared.

The presentation helps organize the storytelling and focus on what is necessary to help a hiring party understand your experience.

Please prepare a portfolio presentation with slides — a PDF or Figma (prototype).

Usually, this is what hiring managers are after:

  • How you handle UI/visuals
  • Product thinking: your ability to solve user/business problems and explain your thought process.
  • Communication skills: how you can explain your decisions and if/how you collaborated with a team.

Common pitfalls:

  • Timing: it can be hard to fit years of work into 30 minutes.
  • Too long to explain: it can be hard to provide all the context you might want.
  • A lack of practice: it can be hard to highlight the best pieces of your work from the first take.

All of that can be fixed with enough practice. Usually, 2-3 iterations is enough.

How to structure your presentation

It is expected that you will talk about 2-3 recent projects you designed.

The usual interview lasts 45-60 minutes, including 15-20 minutes for introductions and questions.

That is why you will have about 30 minutes to talk about your projects.

Introduce yourself: some interviewers have never seen your resume or portfolio. Let them know who you are and why you are here. — 1-2 minutes.

Provide context: what was your company doing, who was the audience, and why does what you worked on matter. They might never have heard of your company before, so give them some frame of reference. — 1-2 minutes.

Talk about 2-3 projects: either that you’re most proud of, or were most impactful, or can show your design excellence. — 20-25 minutes.

How to talk about projects

Usually, it is expected that you outline the user or business problem and then explain your solution by showing the results of your work. Explain the outcome.

To help structure your story, consider using frameworks like Jobs to be done or STAR (situation, task, action, result).

We recommend that:

  • you outline the problem,
  • guide your listeners through the final implementation/designs,
  • then move to an explanation of constraints, the research phase, the launch, and your involvement in these processes.

Having said that, please create a structure that works best for your projects. These hints are mostly to help you start.

Consider highlighting some of these points in your presentation, they might help a hiring party understand your story better:

  • People or business problem
  • Target user/addressable audience
  • Problem verification: why was it a problem to begin with?
  • Key achievements or improvements
  • Constraints and tradeoffs
  • XFN examples
  • Your personal contribution

Please make sure that your personal contribution can be clearly addressed in your presentation. It is okay to brag.

How to avoid common mistakes when designing your presentation
Never use vague titles

Listeners zone out sometimes, and a blank statement doesn't help them get back to understanding what you are talking about.

Use meaningful titles

When possible, use a title with a message you want a listener to remember after your presentation.

Never put walls of text

It is tempting to put the text you wrote on a slide. But instead of listening to you, a listener would read from a slide. They will read faster than you, and if your story doesn't help, you will annoy a... reader.

Use one sentence maximum.

Boil your message down to one meaningful sentence and tell your story. Remember to show images, not texts. Show and tell, don't read.

How you imagine your presentation

Never use small images when sharing a screen.

In real life, most of the screen is consumed by the UI

A browser or app UI would consume a lot of screen real estate. Your slides will look smaller than you imagine, and your listener will have a hard time looking at them. Use large images.

Never put unrelated screens in a row on one slide
Focus on a screen you are explaining at the moment
Avoid emphasizing things you can omit altogether
Emphasize things you want a listener to remember
Why you should start practicing early and with one project

Presentation experience helps you design a better presentation.

Start practicing as soon as you have a draft of one project, book someone in, and learn from experience.

With 2-4 projects in mind, here are the next steps:

  • just pick one; any will do,
  • design a presentation around that project,
  • get feedback from a peer,
  • download a video (it will be available to you only),
  • analyze it,
  • fix the things that will help you explain the project better, and
  • reiterate until comfortable.

Don’t delay your first take.

And don’t worry. Your first take is your first take. NOBODY IS JUDGING. Just make it happen.

Once you know what works for one project, it will become easier for you to talk about more projects. Keep up the good work.

How to understand the hiring party better by listening to others

Our users found that they understood how to talk about their projects after listening to others. They realized what the hiring party is after, and empathy made them rethink their approach.

After each session, listeners have to provide feedback. This feedback partially mimics what is expected from a candidate:

  • listing the projects that were presented,
  • a description of the user or business problems,
  • insight into how the problems were solved,
  • an explanation of how they knew these problems were solved,
  • XFN examples, and
  • the presenter's individual contribution.

You want to make sure that listeners understand what you‘re talking about.

Please make sure your availability settings allow others to book you in. Please accept the invitations to listen to other designers.


How to write project case studies for your portfolio


How to pick projects for portfolio presentation

Even seasoned designers struggle to pick the right projects. Our process guides you to build a presentation based on the hiring manager's expectations.


How to structure your case study

We’ve listed the most important questions that hiring managers want to be answered in your portfolio or past work presentation. Use them or the STAR method to prepare your slides.


How to talk about the problem statement and research

What is important when talking about the context of your projects?


How to talk about solution and key design elements

Showcase your results.


How to talk about my role, contribution, XFN (cross-functional)

Explain your individual contribution.


How to write for portfolio presentation and case study

Writing helps some of us to prepare better. You'll have to fit three projects into 1800 words max.


How to design a portfolio presentation

Make sure the information on each slide is useful, adds to the story, and helps the listener understand it.

Portfolio presentation structure


Why bother with a portfolio presentation?

Presentation and slides are almost a requirement. It helps the candidate to manage time and focus on what is important.


What makes a good portfolio presentaion for a job interview?

Knowing what mistakes to avoid before you start building a presentation is cool (feat. considerations and recommendations from Google recruiters).


Presentation structure

Intro, context, case studies. Make sure interviewers will understand the scope of your work and your background.


Why aim at 30 minutes for a presentation

Even though interviews are scheduled for 45 minutes to an hour, make sure you can deliver your story in 30 minutes.

Hiring product designers: processes explained


Strategy and tactics

Use real-life job interviews as opportunities to collect offers and make the most of your job search.


How they evaluate your portfolio and resume

Hiring managers can afford to be picky because of the large amounts of applications. Learn how to stand out in the application process.


The cost of a hiring mistake

Here's why hiring processes are so complicated and take a long time.


Hiring party team's perspective

In mature companies, a team will interview candidates on the final day and submit their feedback to a hiring manager. Here's why it matters.


How hiring decisions are made

Here's what happens behind the scenes after you manage to navigate through all stages of interviews.

Get ready.
Practice with designers, get feedback, and improve your portfolio presentation.
Get hired.
Connect with hiring managers once you practiced your presentation.
Start now →