Portfolio presentation structure

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).


  1. Make sure your presentation works all the time. Avoid relying on third-party online services that might be offline or change their UI (including Figma).
  2. You want to make sure your story has a linear narrative. It should be a story or a set of stories.
  3. Make sure you can quickly and easily access any presentation parts without wasting too much time (get back to a certain slide to discuss or explain something).

If you glance through the following misconceptions, you will realize that most of them do not comply with the considerations as mentioned earlier. Things to avoid (common misconceptions)

1. Avoid live product walkthroughs.

It might sound like a good idea, but in reality, it doesn't work because:

  • Products change over time (usually, you can't control that).
  • It is hard to jump back and forth if necessary.
  • It is finicky to share a screen of a mobile app and prone to mistakes.
  • You usually don't control the content, which might distract from the point you are conveying.

2. Avoid sharing layouts in Figma and jerking them across the screen (it nauseates other people).

When you both look at the screen and control it, your brain understands what's going on on the screen because your brain first thinks of action and then anticipates the change. People that follow your story process the same in reverse: they have to see the change on the screen first and then process it.

Some candidates are nervous and jerk and twitch layouts so that layouts are dancing on the screen. This might literally cause nausea. You want to avoid interviewers literally experiencing nausea because of your presentation.

We have also noticed that people that rely on layouts tend to forget what they are talking about and why and focus on details that don't matter.

3. Never put walls of text on your slides — you should show and tell, not read together from the slide.

  • Avoid more than one headline on the screen.
  • Avoid paragraphs of text on slides.
  • Never read out loud what is written on a slide. A listener will read faster than you will pronounce these words, and your voice will distract them from reading or bore them into sleep.

4. Avoid browsing your portfolio website together with an interviewer

  • Same as with jerking layouts across the screen and reading out loud, but combined.
  • Shows you aren't prepared for an interview.

Export to PDF, don’t rely on cloud software.

It might sound strange, but PDF is the most reliable format that works both for you and for the hiring party:

  • PDF works all the time and it is cross-platform.
  • PDF is less finicky.
  • PDF works everywhere.
  • PDF is linear, which is important for a narrative and linear storytelling (which is your presentation)
  • You can share it if necessary.

Some people used Figma prototypes instead of PDF. This also worked as well for linear storytelling, but we have also noticed that Figma might change the UI, might be offline, etc. Seriously consider if you want to risk your presentation and rely on this kind of dependency.

Recommendations from Google recruiters

Let’s quote people who work with candidates the most (note that their recommendations are based on loads of experience):

A few guidelines for a successful presentation:

  • You will be presenting through Google Hangouts. NOTE: Don't include any animations or media as part of the presentation -- they are clunky at best over Hangouts, and I don't want you to feel frustrated or have that impact on your presentation.
  • Show us your work along with your process--we want to see both! Use specific examples to walk us through from the beginning to the end of your involvement. Discuss the challenges you had to overcome, alternate solutions considered, and the final results.
  • If you were working as part of a team, clearly identify your contributions to the process and the final product.
  • We would rather you go into 2 projects very deeply than many projects shallowly.
  • Please don't show any work that is confidential. Usually, projects you have worked on in the past that have launched are acceptable to show.
  • The presentation can be as formal or as informal as you would like it to be.
  • Please make a backup version of your portfolio and send it to me as a PDF to share with any panelists who may not be able to make it, or who lose connectivity as happens during these crazy work-from-home days (smile).

We will explore presentation structure and slide design in the next articles.

Presentation structure
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    Presentum helps designers practice portfolio presentations with peers and connects them with hiring managers.

  • Prepare.

    • Use our step-by-step guide to optimize your prep.
    • Read our FAQs to avoid common mistakes.
    • Ask questions: we are happy to help.
  • Practice with peers.

    • Practice in a safe environment.
    • Get live experience and proper feedback.
    • Book peers whenever it‘s convenient.
  • Get hired.

    • Share your practice video on Presentum.
    • Hiring managers and recruiters will watch it and contact you if there is a match.
    • Improve your presentation any time.