Back to Blog

Assessing portfolios for UI/UX designers - a quick guide

If you are hiring for UI/UX designers, a portfolio is a critical element of evaluation. Here are a few tips from Rocket based on our experience with recruiting UI/UX designers for some of the best startups in the world.

Walk through the portfolio with them:

Don't just ask for the portfolio and then put it away to send to the hiring manager. You should actually walk through the portfolio with them - use it almost like you would use a resume for an engineering candidate.

When walking through a portfolio with a UI/UX designer, it's important to ask questions that will help you understand the designer's design process, problem-solving skills, and experience. Here are some questions that you can ask:

  1. Can you tell me about your role in this project?
  2. What was the design challenge you were trying to solve with this project?
  3. How did you approach the design process for this project?
  4. Can you walk me through your design decisions and why you made them?
  5. How did you gather user feedback and incorporate it into your design?
  6. How did you test the design and what were the results?
  7. How did you handle any constraints or limitations during the design process?
  8. How does this project align with your design philosophy and aesthetics?
  9. Can you talk about some of the key metrics or success indicators for this project?
  10. Are there any lessons learned from this project that you would like to share?
It's also important to ask follow-up questions based on the designer's responses, to get a better understanding of their thought process, problem-solving and decision-making skills.

7 best practices to follow to assess a portfolio:

Here are some best practices for assessing a designer's portfolio:

  1. Look for a diverse range of projects: A designer's portfolio should showcase a variety of projects that demonstrate their ability to work on different types of projects and with different types of clients.
  2. Evaluate the design process: Look for evidence of a designer's design process in their portfolio, such as wireframes, user research, and user testing. This will give you a sense of how they approach problem-solving and user-centered design.
  3. Look for attention to detail: Pay attention to the details in the designs, such as typography, color, and layout. This will give you an idea of the designer's attention to detail and ability to create polished, professional designs.
  4. Check if the designs are responsive: Look for examples of responsive designs, which can be viewed on various devices and screen sizes. This will give you an idea of the designer's ability to create designs that are optimized for different devices.
  5. Look for a clear and consistent design language: The portfolio should have a consistent design language, which will show that the designer has a good understanding of design principles and consistency in their work.
  6. Ask about the project: If you see something you like in the portfolio, ask the candidate about their role in the project, the challenges they faced and how they solved them. This will give you an idea of the designer's problem-solving and communication skills.
  7. Assess their case studies: Case studies are a great way to understand how the designer approached a problem, what was the process, what were the challenges and how they overcame them.
It's important to keep in mind that a portfolio is just one aspect of assessing a designer's abilities.

What are some common mistakes recruiters make with portfolios:

Some common mistakes include:

  1. Focusing only on the aesthetics of the designs: While it's important to look for polished, professional designs, it's also important to look at the design process and problem-solving skills behind the designs.
  2. Not paying attention to the designer's role in the project: It's important to understand the designer's specific role and contributions to a project, as well as any constraints or limitations they faced during the design process.
  3. Not considering a diverse range of projects: Recruiters should look for a diverse range of projects in a designer's portfolio, as this will give them a better understanding of the designer's abilities and experience.
  4. Not looking for responsive design: With the increasing use of mobile devices, it's important to look for designs that are optimized for different devices and screen sizes.
  5. Not looking for clear and consistent design language: A consistent design language is an important aspect of good design and it's important to look for it in a designer's portfolio.
  6. Not asking enough questions and not having follow-up questions: This can prevent recruiters from understanding the designer's design process, problem-solving skills, and experience.
  7. Not considering the designer's case studies: Case studies can give a more detailed view of how the designer approached a problem, what were the challenges and how they overcame them.
  8. Not considering the context of the project: A project may look good on a portfolio but it's important to understand the context in which it was developed, such as the size of the team, the budget and the timeline.

What can hiring managers ask you about the designer:

It is also good to be prepared with the questions the hiring manager might ask you after your screening call.

Many of these are related to the portfolio and include:

  1. Can you tell me about the designer's design process and problem-solving skills?
  2. What types of projects did the designer work on and what was their role in those projects?
  3. How does the designer's design philosophy align with the company's design principles?
  4. Can you provide specific examples of how the designer has handled constraints or limitations in their design work?
  5. How does the designer approach user research and testing in their design process?
  6. How does the designer handle feedback and incorporate it into their design work?
  7. Can you discuss any key metrics or success indicators from the designer's previous projects?
  8. How does the designer stay current with design trends and technologies?
  9. How well the designer can work in a team, and what their communication skills are like?
  10. Can you provide any examples of the designer's ability to handle project management?

Examples of good portfolios:

Here are 10 examples of great portfolios by UI/UX designers that will help you develop a better feel for portfolios:

  1. https://www.behance.net/magdakokott - Magda Kokott is a Senior Product Designer and her portfolio showcases a wide range of design projects she has worked on, including mobile apps, web design, and branding.
  2. https://jennpaz.com/ - Jenn Paz is a Senior Product Designer and her portfolio showcases her design process, user research, and wireframes.
  3. https://www.behance.net/davidsousa - David Sousa is a Senior UX/UI Designer and his portfolio showcases his design process, user research, and wireframes.
  4. https://www.behance.net/RJMarquez - RJ Marquez is a Senior Product Designer and his portfolio showcases his design process, user research, and wireframes.
  5. https://www.behance.net/matthewstephens - Matthew Stephens is a Senior UI/UX Designer and his portfolio showcases his design process, user research, and wireframes.
  6. https://www.behance.net/christina - Christina is a UI/UX designer and her portfolio showcases her design process, user research and wireframes.
  7. https://www.behance.net/joshuamccoy - Joshua McCoy is a Senior UI/UX Designer and his portfolio showcases his design process, user research, and wireframes.
  8. https://www.behance.net/jennachen - Jenna Chen is a UI/UX designer and her portfolio showcases her design process, user research and wireframes.
  9. https://www.behance.net/jenniferdewalt - Jennifer Dewalt is a UI/UX designer and her portfolio showcases her design process, user research and wireframes.
  10. https://www.behance.net/sarahdoody - Sarah Doody is a UI/UX designer and her portfolio showcases her design process, user research and wireframes.

Conclusion

In summary, assessing a UI/UX designer portfolio is an important part of the recruiting process. It allows recruiters to evaluate a candidate's skills, experience, and design style.

When evaluating a portfolio, it's important to look at multiple pieces of work to get a sense of the candidate's abilities. Some things to look for include user research, wireframing, prototyping, and visual design. Recruiters should also ask questions about the design process, design choices and ask the candidate to walk through their portfolio.

It's also important for recruiters to be aware of common mistakes such as focusing only on aesthetics, and not looking at the whole picture, not asking the right questions and not looking at multiple pieces of work.

About Rocket

Rocket pairs talented recruiters with advanced AI to help companies hit their hiring goals and knows technology recruiting inside out. Rocket is headquartered in the heart of Silicon Valley but has recruiters all over the US & Canada serving the needs of our growing client base across engineering, product management, data science and more through a variety of offerings and solutions.

More from the Blog

Startup Recruiting Roadmap

On outline for highly effective recruiting at startups.

Read Story

Hiring Human Resource Business Partners (HRBPs) - a comprehensive guide

Human Resource Business Partners (HRBPs) help to bridge the gap between HR and the business, and ensure that HR strategies are aligned with business objectives. This blog helps you understand the role in detail and provides guidance on recruiting top tier HRBPs.

Read Story

Hiring Sales Development Representatives (SDRs) - a comprehensive guide

An SDR (Sales Development Representative) is a sales professional who specializes in identifying and qualifying potential leads for a company's sales team. This blog focuses on understanding the SDR role and responsibilities and how to recruit effectively for your organization.

Read Story