What We Look For in a Design Portfolio

posted on 12th Jun 2018 by Deirdre O'Sullivan

As H.R. Manager in Neworld I would like to share with you my top tips on what we look for in a design portfolio when interviewing to join our team. You have two choices – physical or on-line portfolio. This is your career calling card, so you must make sure it shows off your best work.

Physical Portfolio

If you are presenting a physical design portfolio you should aim to fill at least 20 pages that show a range of applications. Show examples that you feel are appropriate to the role – for example if the position is for creative director show work that demonstrates how you directed your team to fulfil the brief. Also be able to show that you are a good communicator who understands budgets and deadlines, as well as the importance of meetings and updates – these are the professional skills required for a creative director and should be discussed.

Designers should have samples that show how they can interpret a creative brief. It is very important that you can explain the strategy behind how you came to your design. We always look for a strategic thinker. Make it clear what the brief asked for and be able to talk about how and why the work was created, and demonstrate how you successfully accomplished it.

Remember you are going for a creative job so do not be afraid to show your own projects that may not have been client work to display your personality and artistic flair. Show off other creative talents such as photography and include examples of your shots. We love to see a logo or a tagline representing your own brand, so create your own logo and a strong tagline which quickly tells us who you are and what you can offer.

Finally, give your portfolio a regular spring clean – get rid of old irrelevant examples of your work, keep it fresh, neat and clean looking. No dog ears on your samples! Then I would suggest that you take a step back and look at your portfolio through others’ eyes – think of yourself as the employer! Be critical. Ask yourself “does it show off all my qualities?” Once you are happy with the answer, you will feel confident showing off your best work. My advice is always start and end on a wow! Blow our minds!

Online Portfolio

There are a number of options to set up an online design portfolio. The most common dedicated design portfolio platform is Behance. However, if you are technically minded, get yourself a personalised domain name, invest in some hosting and set up a WordPress website. Otherwise by using a “done-for-you web platform” you can set up a hosted blog at WordPress.com using one of the best WordPress portfolio themes. Other dedicated design portfolio platforms are Carbonmade, Portfoliobox or Big Black Bag.

Before you start, think about the goal of your design portfolio. Same as a physical portfolio, avoid trying to show off too much work – be selective. Focus on your best work that you have done for high-profile clients. Show the work that you want to do more of and illustrates the full set of your skills and abilities. Only show examples of work that you can really stand behind. You need to tell a story, so put your projects in order so that they feel fluid and complement each other.

The website you build will say a lot about you instantly, so make sure you design it properly. Show people what you can do before you get around to telling them. If you are a web-designer, have a beautiful quick-to-load online design portfolio that showcases your coding and design talents. Or take it to another level by showing your work as an animation. All the better you will impress and also show off another skill.

If you are a graphic designer then impress the viewer with great typography, a personalised logo and easy-on-the-eye layouts. Make sure your online portfolio is easy to navigate with clear goals for each page. To showcase your printed material on screen, photography can be used but please make sure your images are the best that they can be. Rather than showing the finished design, artwork, logo or illustration, give an insight into how you did it. Give a short description of the brief and how you interpreted it to fulfil the wishes of the client.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember if you get to the interview stage is to be yourself. At Neworld, our priority is that the new person coming in to join the team has to be the right fit, so showing your true personality is critical.


Dee has been part of the Neworld family for nearly 25 years, having worked in many roles in the company she has been our HR Manager for the past 10 years and this is her favourite role so far. Dee believes our “USP” is our wonderful talented staff and it is her job to keep them happy. Our ethos is “great relationships build great brands” and we strive to have great relationships with all members of our staff and this comes across to our clients.