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Let’s be honest—design interviews can be nerve-wracking. I know, because those first few years of my career were a wild ride. From Geocities “webmaster” to where I am now, one thing has stayed true: the best way to prove yourself is to always keep growing.

My “Maybe I’ll Phone It In” Mistake

Early on, I figured a strong portfolio did the talking for me. And sometimes, it did! I’d walk in, my work laid out with careful explanations, keeping people engaged. That usually did the trick.

But not always. Let’s just say those ‘off’ interviews usually lined up with times I barely made an effort on the dreaded design test. Excuses lined my way of thinking—the commute, being busy…but at the end of the day, if I didn’t give 110%, it showed. It’s a hard lesson, but so valuable.

What REALLY Gets You Hired

Here’s what I wish someone had told me back then:

  • Your Best Work, Curated: Your portfolio isn’t a gallery, it’s a pitch. Tailor it to match your dream role. Imagine each project as a mini case study – check out Google Ramayana by Fi if you need killer inspiration.
  • Own the Room: That design test? It’s a chance to show your personality and how you think, not just regurgitate skills. Get excited, let your passion shine!
  • Practice Your Story: Get those presentation nerves out beforehand. Friends, mentors…find honest critics. This interview’s about them seeing you as a colleague, so act the part.

Why Deep Thought Beats Slick Design

Now, I’m on the other side of the table. The people we hire? It’s not just pretty pixels. We want to hear that journey: the problem you faced, the choices you made, the messy bits that led to a breakthrough.

Think you have that spark? Hit me up on Twitter @artofnor—I can give some advice of look over your portfolio if needed.

Want to get that “wow” factor before your next interview? This free book helped me nail down how to pitch my work, and Meng’s courses are great for digging deeper into the craft of designing and coding.

This field changes fast. The real secret isn’t just the work, it’s being the kind of designer who never stops learning. Show them that, and the job offers follow.