Check out some great work from Klaus Tritschler.
AH: What kinds of portfolios get your attention these days? What brings in an industrial designer for an interview?
KT: First, it takes one or two very strong, exciting projects that relate to what I’m looking for to catch my interest. Once I’m interested, I review for a good volume of varied work samples showing appropriate, well-targeted design solutions, plus skillful use of design tools: manual, 2D, and 3D digital. Those are my top-level requirements that bring in a candidate for an interview.
Beyond that, the best portfolio makes me feel that hiring this person will not only get the job done well, but will move us forward and bring a unique, desirable quality or character to our product. I review portfolios first for skills, then for experience and then personality. For a junior position the candidate’s interests—are they into power sports or airplanes?—and the unique character in his/her work can be more important than specific experience.
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AH: What do you think of showing work that’s not industrial design in a portfolio? Things like art, photography, hobbies, etc.?
KT: In addition to showing great design and excellent craft that’s directly relevant to the position, seeing samples of past-time projects such as photography, sculpting or—for example—your hand-built custom motorcycle is a big plus. This often shows passion and interests in a very direct, unfiltered way and tells me that the person has a natural drive and enthusiasm to create. However, if the design-portfolio section is not convincing, showing past-time projects won’t help much.
AH: What do you expect to learn from the designer during an interview?
KT: Are they excited about design? How does it come across? I ask a lot of questions about the candidate’s designs, such as why did you choose this sketch as your final design direction? What in your design communicates the brand? Ultimately this is to discover what drove the designs and learn how conscious the creative process was, if solid design goals were established, and if they can communicate them clearly and concisely. And then, is this thinking visible in the design solution? Did they succeed in meeting the design goals?
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AH: What are some reasons you have rejected a candidate?
KT: Work samples were not relevant for the position or they had higher interest in other areas than the area of job focus. The obvious, such as lack of craft (ability to draw, etc.), or lack of 3D (Alias, Rhino, etc.). Too much styling and too little thought or the opposite, lots of thinking, but no/few visually attractive solutions. Weak work samples—even if there were also good ones in the portfolio. And finally, a personality that did not fit well for the team.
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AH: If you were just starting out now, what advice would you give yourself?
KT: Focus on what you are most passionate about and find the best teachers to learn from, and the best teams to work in.
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