My career started 1997; As a webmaster, web designer, interactive designer, new media designer, flash developer, front-end developer, product designer, and visual designer. I’ve always been a designer, but I touched a lot of code in the process. I wasn’t afraid to learn new things. Learning is what I’m great at. Doing, on the other hand, I still have a lot to learn.
In my 17 plus year career, I’ve only had to do three design tests for some well-known companies in Silicon Valley. Yes, only three. The jobs that I didn’t have to do a design test for, I’ve presented my work really well. I always go above and beyond what’s expected in a design review. I explained every detail of my process and how I worked out my problems. I usually spend about an hour to present my work in front of a group of would be co-workers. Typically, this was enough.
Why did I fail my two design tests? Short answer, I didn’t put that much effort in to them and it showed. I can come up with a million excuses why; My commute is long at my current job, I’m burnt out from the commute, I’m married with children, I only have a couple hours at night to work, etc. At the end of the day, these are just excuses.
Once you get past the excuses, you can try these tips out on your next design interview. Make sure you have a solid portfolio showing the type of work you’re looking for. Show your best work—not the most work (I tend to do this sometimes too). Curate and put up what you are most proud of. Be able to explain your process. Extra points if you put descriptions next to your work. Make your site stand out like a design case study (e.g. Google Ramayana by Fi).
The best advice I can give you is to do your best—give it all your best. Anything half-ass will show and you will get turned down no matter how good you think you are. Don’t rely on your friends who work there to get you the job. They can only go as far as getting you the interview. The show is up to you. Sell yourself. Sell youself hard. Practice your presentation skills beforehand. Seek out critiques and advice when you can. Set your egos aside. These are the people you will be working with for at least eight hours a day. Be someone who you’d like to work with.
The candidates we’ve hired really impressed us with their work. They go into details of the hows and whys of their design. Present a problem and give your solution. If you’re looking for work, my team is hiring. Find me on twitter @artofnor if you’re interested in a designer role or want some career advice.
Get this free book to see a great example of how to present your design. http://uxpin.com/mobile-design-patterns.html
To get better at design+code, check out Meng’s courses http://designcode.io/
Connect with me on twitter @ArtofNor.