Your portfolio wasn't designed responsively

Lately, I got several junior designers' requests to answer some questions around the portfolio and how to get a job. The most frequently asked question was on how to get an interview and succeed there.

This reminded me of one story that happened to me a few years ago when I had an interview with an interesting outcome. 

It was a small startup that worked in FinTech. I researched them and liked what they were doing, so I applied. In the next couple of days, I got a response to arrange a phone interview. 

A 30 minutes interview with a co-founder went great; we talked about company vision, product designer role and responsibilities. Before we finished the interview, the guy asked me about my availability for an in-person interview at their office.

The next interview was scheduled for a next week at the office in Downtown Toronto. It was a 2-hour interview with several team members and other co-founders. All people who interviewed me were friendly and professional, I enjoyed the conversation, and I liked how they talked about the future and the importance of design.

The last interview on that day was with another co-founder. We went through my portfolio that was made on the Readymag platform. And at that time, Readymag used adaptive design to make sure that your portfolio looks good on a tablet and mobile devices. 

While we were looking at my portfolio, the guy had Safari shrunk to 75% of his screen. My portfolio wasn't properly displayed because Readymag's adaptive design was adapting the website to a particular device (tablet or phone) and not a browser width. The guy noted this problem, so I explained how this platform works; there is nothing I can do about it unless they update it. 

After the interview, I was pretty happy with how it went. In the next couple of days, I got an email that contained a very familiar to most job seekers message: "Unfortunately, we've decided to go in another direction for the role." I was very, very surprised! Also, they asked if I'm interested in feedback, and of course, I replied, "Yes."

The feedback was something like this: the team really liked you, and they think that you would be a great addition to the team, but they couldn't get over one little thing, the responsiveness of your portfolio. 

At that moment, it was depressing; but now, looking back, I realize how amusing it is: reject a candidate because of a  non-responsive portfolio. Despite the fact I was a good fit for the company, my portfolio wasn't 😂

By sharing this story, I want to show young designers that are just getting into the field: there will be 1001 thing in why you are not getting hired, but in most cases, it's probably not your fault. 

If your judgement on designers is only based on their portfolios, even many seniors won't be in a good spot. I know many people with 10+ years of experience with the most basic portfolios, so please, if you're hiring a designer, also notice how they think, work and collaborate, and only then make your final decision. 

Originally published on LinkedIn