Setting up the Environment to Your Advantage



Updated October 11, 2023
Land Your Dream Design Job

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.

Aside from getting the following basics covered, remember, this is your time to shine, not shy away. Carry a leadership mindset with an executive presence to your on-site interview. The goal is to tell your story, show the work, and connect with your audience.

Practicing ahead of time by yourself or with your friends will make a big difference. If you really want to get into it, I recommend joining a local public speaking group or taking an improv class. Both will give you structure and frameworks for scripted or spontaneous scenarios.

Build Rapport While Setting Up

Hopefully before you start your presentation, you’ll have time to set up your laptop and project on screen. But if you walk into a room full of expecting looks, fear not, now’s the time to say hello and ask questions about how to get your laptop to project with whatever setup they have. This usually takes a while, so get ready to troubleshoot.

Silence Notifications

“Hey bae, what u up 2 tonight?” Whoops, you forgot to disable your notifications. Make sure the do not disturb mode is on. In fact I sometimes go so far as creating a new user account with only my presentation and backup portfolio work on it—no distractions, no messages. If it’s an emergency, it can wait until the end of the interview.

Find Your Stage

Since table, chair, and monitor configurations vary, a good rule of thumb is to position yourself where you can see your portfolio and your interviewers. This helps you see what you’re presenting so you can point out specific things, and connect with your audience while observing the room.

Ideally, you’re sitting side by side or slightly behind the interviewers to give the impression that you’re leading the group through a journey together.

At times you may also have to present in-person and on a remote video chat. In that case, it’ll help to turn on your laptop’s camera to put yourself on equal footing and build rapport with the folks who are off-site.

Setting up Your Remote Environment to Your Advantage

Since COVID has made remote interviews common, it helps to set up your space in advance and to get familiar with the conferencing software.

Presenting with Multiple Screens

Depending on how your home setup works, you may have one or two extra monitors in addition to your laptop. Usually the laptop will have a camera but the displays will not. Since you’ll want to face your interviewers, my recommendation is to project your presentation on your display in front of you, while having your presentation notes (if you’re presenting in a note-style format) in front of you on the laptop.

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