Portfolio Evaluation

A quick individual evaluation of the candidate’s portfolio website and any other websites that showcase their work, like Dribbble and Behance. The goal is to get early signals to determine the experience level of the candidate. Most effective as a gauge rather than a weed out tactic.

If possible, find their portfolio on your own. A recent trend is more portfolios are behind passwords. When the candidate says they’re interested in the role, request access to their portfolio for the team to better understand their work experience.

Product Designer

Competencies Evaluated


Process (UX) Is there a detailed & thorough process for each case study to describe the decision making?

  1. Is there variability in every case study rather than the same boilerplate process? Typical process learned at bootcamps or articles that design get stuck on: Competitive Analysis -> Interview -> Personas -> Wireframes -> Final Mockups
  2. *Is divergent thinking represented? Examples: sketches or multiple concepts
  3. Is there clear storytelling of design decisions? Is it represented that this happened with internal partners?
  4. Was user research conducted?
  5. Was data analyzed?
  6. Did they define design goals and principles upfront?

Artifacts (User Research & Analytics) How well did they visually define the problem and solution space outside of final output?

  1. Are there non-typical UX artifacts (typical: affinity diagram, journey map, persona, flow chart)?
  2. *Are there any UX artifacts?
  3. Are the artifacts high-quality that appear to be shareable and build confidence that they are understand the subject matter well?
  4. Includes quantitative data analysis?

A telltale sign of a visual designer not yet a product designer will only have the final mockups without any description of the process.

UI Quality (Visual & Interaction Design) Is there high quality output present?

  1. Are their final design output high fidelity?
  2. Do mockups have clear visual hierarchy and information design?
  3. *Are the mockups polished with modern color and typography usage?
  4. *Are there detailed interactive prototypes present? Do the interaction models make sense?

A telltale sign of a weaker visual designer is if they do not have high fidelity designs at all or if don’t use standard UI patterns and components for mobile. This is a key signal for attention to detail if you can tell they’re referencing a mobile pattern but have customized it in a negative way (most ways are negative).

Service Design

  1. Are there process or touchpoint maps that capture the context of the user experience?
  2. Do they demonstrate an understanding of what happens before and after the user experience they’ve designed?

Collaboration How well did they include others in their process?

  1. *Did they outline their role and the teammates they worked with?
  2. Did they facilitate design workshops or collaborative sessions with others?
  3. Were engineers brought in early and at least a part of the ideation phase, if not earlier?
  4. Were their multiple design feedback gather moments?


For every yes answer, add a point. Use as a gage to compare candidates and expected role level.

*Astericks mean they are key signals to prioritize first.

Disclaimer 1 There are many intangibles that can be signals for a great candidates. This is a guide and not a decision framework.

Disclaimer 2 The skills you’re looking for can heavily influence how you want to assess. For example, sometimes you’re looking for a visually strong candidate so you’re more willing to look past UX defencies, such as detailed process with research.

Brand Designer

Competencies Evaluated


  1. Which of these does their portfolio have? The more the better.
    • All or mostly digital design
    • Websites
    • Landing Page / Microsites
    • Emails
    • Brand style guides
    • Illustrations
    • Animations
    • Presentation decks
    • Some print/physical design is good variety (swag, office signage, etc…)

Compared to a graphic designer, you’ll see a lot (magazines, business cards, flyers, photography)

Scope & Concepting

  1. Does the portfolio cover a wide range of output for a single brand?
  2. Are there style guides?
  3. Is their exploration for brand identity?


  1. Is their any data referenced?
  2. Are their outcomes described?


  1. Do mockups have clear visual hierarchy and information design?
  2. *Are the mockups polished with modern color and typography usage?

Product Orientation

  1. Product-oriented over consumer good and human services

Frontend Development

  1. Is their website highly customized, demonstrating coding knowledge?