Portfolio presentation tips for mid-senior level UX designers

Things I learned in 2021 when I present my portfolio via video calls for Senior roles

6 min readOct 3, 2021
Illustration by Tatyana Krasutskaya from Ouch!

Recently, I just landed a new job. I interviewed with a handful of companies this year. Many years ago, when I was still a junior designer, I thought things were going to be easier for senior-level roles. I was wrong. I have to say that things aren’t easier. But I’m just less sensitive with rejections. Because I’m not just looking for a paycheck this time. The process is more like dating. I wanted to find the perfect match for my core values.

After interviewing with Doordash, Facebook, Instacart, Stripe, etc, here are 7 tips for portfolio presentation I learned this time when I presented larger scoped projects. Curious about the deck I presented? I also included a 53-page portfolio presentation template I designed in the end of this article. 😀

Tip 1. Understand your interviewers and the role

  1. Understand what kind of designers they are looking for. Usually, before presenting your work, you’ll have the chance to chat with the recruiter or the hiring manager during the informational call. Ask questions to clarify the requirements that are not written in the job description.
  2. Understand interviewers’ style. Are they more logical or more interested in hearing stories? If they’re more logical, try to bring as much data to the table. If they’re more interested in how you work, consider bringing more stories to your presentation.

Tip 2. Choose larger-scoped projects to talk about

Usually, interviewees only have time to talk about 2 projects. When I pick the 2 projects to present, I found my interviewers are more interested in projects with the following traits:

  1. Ambiguous: The project is not clear at the beginning. Or you’re looking at the opportunity instead of solving problems.
  2. Complicated: End-to-end flows. Or there are lots of dependencies to manage in this project.
  3. Big impact: Impact doesn’t have to be the business impact. Whether the company decides to launch a project isn’t something we can control. It’s usually a team decision. So don’t be shy to put on projects that are turned down at the end. You can still talk about other impacts: Did you influence other people’s projects? Did you change the design system? Did you initiate a business shift? Did you influence the company strategy? Did you help your stakeholders see something they never thought about before? Did you push back a bad concept and fight for your users?
  4. Rationalized process: Research or validation must be involved. A complete process must include the research part. It shouldn’t be a project that you did on your own and get them launched.
  5. Well-polished: From visual to interaction, hard skills shouldn’t be your weakness when you’re a senior-level designer. Showcase the best you can do. It’s okay if your current company doesn’t have the best design system. This is your showtime. Not your company’s design fair. Try to show your perspectives instead of the company’s perspectives. That means, feel free to make improvements to the existing design system so that the interviewers won’t get distracted by the muddy visual.

Things you might be worried about, but you don’t need to worry at all:

  1. Your company is small
  2. Your user group is small
  3. Your design is not launched to all users

Tip 3. Set up the stage

Setting up the stage by introducing a few things ahead is important. For each project, interviewers are interested to hear about:

  1. What’s the project about, what’s the company about — Using 1–2 sentences would be enough.
  2. Explain the duration of the project, team members, and your role. Also, be clear when you say “we” and “I” to clarify responsibilities.
  3. Introduce the solution first. Remember humans are having limited patience. So giving interviewers an expectation of what your solution is at the beginning will help them understand your project better.
Illustration by Murat Kalkavan from Ouch!

Tip 4. Time manner

Most of the interviews would be 30–45 minutes for a portfolio walk-through. If it’s a video interview before the virtual onsite interview, usually it will be interruptive. So be prepared when interviewers ask questions while you’re presenting. In this case, you could:

  1. Try a shorter version of your presentation. I timed up each of my projects to be about 13–17mins. When it’s interruptive, I’ll try to make a 5–10mins version.
  2. Remind your interviewer of the time. Check if they want to continue to ask questions or they want you to finish up the rest of the projects.
  3. If the interviewer spent too much time on details, quickly go through the following pages to make sure they have the full picture of your projects.
  4. Make your presentation more digestible by showing smaller sections. So even you’ve gone through a few sections, the interviewer can still get a sense of what kind of designer you’re.

Tip 5. Prioritize your features to present

Senior-level designers always have the big ambition to showcase all features from one project. But time is limited, you can’t show every detail about your work.

  1. Introduce the scope of your project by showing a list of features or a diagram could be helpful. But don’t show diagrams everywhere. Your interviewers are going to be cognitively overloaded.
  2. Pick a few features you want to show. For each of them, you can consider showing different skills. For example, one feature to show your visual skill, one feature to show your interaction skill, and one feature to show your ability to deal with conflict.

Tip 6. Tell your stories in your own way

One question to think about when preparing a portfolio review is: how can you balance out the best way you tell the story VS if your audience can understand your story. I’ve seen two good examples:

Example 1 from Tony Aube: No text, just pure stories


Tony Aube used this portfolio presentation to land a senior-level job at Google. He has awesome storytelling skills. With minimal texts on his presentation, he’s able to talk about all the great work he has done.

Example 2 from Femke: more structured presentation


Femke’s presentation is clean and easy to follow. She smartly structured her portfolio presentation with key points.

Although these two people are using different approaches, they can tell their stories very clearly and compellingly. Everyone could have their ways to tell the story.

Tip 7. Be genuine and confident to express your core values

What do you care about a job? Think about 3 or more important things based on your previous experience and your core values. You can list them out like me.

Here is an example of things that are important for me at my current stage:

  1. Customer-centric and data-driven — I wish the team decisions are rationalized so no top-down decision gets made because someone said so. And I love to work with people with less personal ego.
  2. Collaborative and transparent process — I wish that no one is going to hide something for individual contributors. Being informed and being transparent get me a better focus on my work.
  3. Growth opportunities — I wish there is the growth opportunity to become a manager someday.

Whenever I talk with my interviewers, I’ll bring up my values to the table. For example:

  1. At the beginning of the presentation when I introduce myself
  2. Using projects to tell the story and explain why I think those values are important for me.
  3. When I have the chance to ask questions in the end, I’ll ask them some specific questions to make sure the team has what I want.

Last words

That’s all I have learned this time! I believe there is no one theory that fits all. How would you set up your portfolio presentation to make sure you get your perfect job?


👉Download portfolio presentation template from Google Drive




Sr Product Designer at DoorDash. Previously at Microsoft, OfferUp, Baidu, Google, etc. / www.xfmay.com