You’re reading an excerpt of Land Your Dream Design Job, a book by Dan Shilov. Filled with hard-won, personal insights, it is a comprehensive guide to landing a product design role in a startup, agency, or tech company, and covers the entire design interview process from beginning to end, for experienced and aspriring designers. Purchase the book to support the author and the ad-free Holloway reading experience. You get instant digital access, commentary and future updates, and a high-quality PDF download.

Putting It Together

The final presentation came down to 40+ slides in four chapters:

  1. Research synthesis. Show already-existing behaviors of people in relation to semi-autonomous and autonomous vehicles.

  2. Contextual scenarios. Show storyboards highlighting divergent exploration, ultimately converging on the final segment of the presentation.

  3. Sarah’s story. Illustrates how technology and people’s needs come together and solve a customer’s problem.

The context of tech and research made the audience understand what solutions are possible, and Sarah’s story illustrated a specific use case.

A couple of years ago I went to an AIGA event where I met the fine folks at Ueno. One of the designers mentioned how if a client asks for coffee, don’t just bring excellent coffee but bring chocolate. Understanding the underlying but unspoken need is key. In my case chocolate was a box.

Figure: Physical Prototypes

Sometimes to think outside the box you have to think inside the box.

Sometimes to think outside the box you have to think inside the box.

At the last minute, a few hours before the interview, since I’d already sent the deck for a pre-read, I decided to build a physical prototype of an autonomous vehicle. I spent about an hour cutting up boxes and gluing cardboard together. What if we could have customers co-design the experience by interacting with the physical prototype?

Outcome

The on-site presentation of this exercise was my third to last interview. I lucked out on the presentation space, as Sarah’s story came to life on a beautiful large display. The box and the rough sketches surprised and delighted the interviewers, as they had never seen anything like it.

This is one way to solve a design exercise but not the only way. I do hope that by showing some of my process behind the work and the deliverables, you can see how I’ve followed (or ignored) the design exercise principles (they’re not set in stone) based on the situation at hand.

The design exercise is an opportunity to leave your personal mark on the work. Take it and have fun with it. Find out what the evaluation criteria will be and use your unique perspective, experience, and knowledge to stand out.

If you found this post worthwhile, please share!