Top 10 Portfolio Tips
to prepare your Interior Design Portfolio for an interview
As an interior designer, your portfolio is your calling card. It makes a first impression for you and speaks for you when you’re not there so it needs to work hard! When you're applying for a new job or going for an interview, your portfolio allows you to showcase your design style, skills and experience but here’s the million dollar question…how do you decide what to include?
We’re on hand to help you out with this one because we’ve seen and heard about a fair few portfolios in our time. Here are our top 10 tips for preparing your portfolio for an interview.
1. Define your audience
Before you even start the process of putting together your portfolio, it’s important to do your research on the company or studio you are interviewing with. Look at their website, social media, and any other online presence they have to familiarise yourself with their style and aesthetics. This will give you a good idea of what kinds of projects and designs they are looking for.
2. Curate your projects
Now that you have a good handle on what the studio is all about, it’s time to start editing. Quality is more important than quantity. Choose your best work that is most relevant to the position you are applying for. If you have a lot of experience with commercial design but are applying for a high-end residential position, focus on those residential projects in your portfolio and select pieces that truly represent your style, design approach and skill level. Less is more when it comes to portfolios - you want to make sure that everything you include is top-notch and showcases your skills in the best light possible.
3. Tell a Story
Your portfolio should tell a story about who you are as a designer and what kind of styles you are drawn to. The projects you choose should be diverse enough to show off your range but cohesive enough that there is a through-line connecting them all. Give the viewer a sense of your aesthetic and how you approach design problems. Be sure to include before-and-after photos of projects whenever possible so that viewers can see the transformation that took place under your direction.
4. Kick off with your strongest work
You should always have your best and most relevant work at the beginning of your portfolio - you want the viewer to be impressed from the get-go. You won’t always get the opportunity to talk your interviewer through your whole portfolio given time constraints so ensuring they see your most relevant work first gives you the best chance of success.
5. Include a variety of formats
Where possible, showcase your work using different media such as photos, sketches, drawings, and 3D models to demonstrate a breadth of skills.You don’t need to do this for each project but it’s good to have a couple of examples in there that show the project from brief to completion.
6. Use high-quality images
The images you include should be clear, well-lit, and professionally taken. No one is going to be impressed by blurry iPhone photos - no matter how great the actual design is. If you don't have access to professional photography services, see if you can team up with a photographer friend or colleague who can help out.
7. Keep it organised
Your portfolio should be easy to navigate and understand. Adding a contents page at the beginning can help to give the viewer a point of reference and also make sure you clearly label each section. Use descriptive titles and captions for each project, and consider grouping similar projects together so the viewer can easily compare and contrast your work side-by-side.
8. Use a design template
Choose a professional-looking design for your portfolio - on and offline - that compliments your work and style, and keep it consistent throughout. Creating a brand for yourself will help people to remember you and instantly reflect your design aesthetic.
9. Pay attention to the details
As an interior designer, it's important that you pay attention to even the smallest details and that extends to your portfolio as well. Make sure there are no typos or grammatical errors in your captions or on your website, and take some time to proofread everything.
10. Big is not better
For print portfolios, we suggest converting it to a PDF file before sending it over to us and limiting your file size to being between 5 - 10MB. When compressing images, make sure that the image quality is not compromised.
A beautifully presented portfolio is essential for any interior designer who wants to land their dream job. Taking the time to edit, finesse, tweak and re-edit can be the difference between you landing a job or not so it’s well worth the effort. By following these simple tips, you can help to nudge the outcome in your favour and make a lasting impression.