Person looking through their portfolio

Many architecture applicants who want to gain a coveted position at your firm will apply with you whether you have an open position or not.

You can expect a constant stream of applications to flood your server, and then you’ll have to decide who to bring in for interviews. To vet candidates, you’ll likely scan their cover letters and resumes for relevant keywords. You may even request that potential interviewees demonstrate their software skills before interviewing them.

Eventually, one critical piece will help you make your hiring decision: the candidate portfolio.

As you interview architecture and design firm candidates, review their portfolios for four critical components and any specific skills you may be hiring for.

4 Critical Components of Candidate Portfolios

  1. Awareness

The best portfolios demonstrate awareness. The architect or designer perceives issues and responds to them by designing for beliefs, emotions and values.

  1. User-Design 

Aesthetics and function are part of any creative and unique design. A candidate portfolio should reveal fresh new perspectives rather than imitations of what you’re already offering clients in the way of design.

  1. Outcomes

Sound designers can identify a problem and provide a solution. They’ll be able to discuss the pain points of a project and explain why their methods solved the problem. Ask for evidence that the outcome was met or exceeded client or firm expectations.

  1. Growth Potential

Everyone brings strengths and weaknesses to the table. A candidate’s ability to recognize their weaknesses and be willing to learn and grow makes them remarkable. Look for progression.

Bert Seither, CEO of The Startup Expert, recognizes that some candidates are looking for new positions because they have become career-stagnant. According to Seither, a candidate who has stagnated in their design career may be experiencing the following:

  • burnout
  • distraction
  • fear of making a mistake

If you’re interviewing someone with little experience or it looks as if they have stalled in their career, don’t automatically pass them over. Consider how they’ve used their time. Did they complete an internship or participate in a hackathon? Did they focus on growth?

The Other Secret Behind Candidate Portfolios

There’s more to a great portfolio than the body of work.

Reviewing a candidate’s portfolio gives you a sense of who the candidate is as a designer and person. Of course, you’ll be looking at design elements, but you also want to gauge the candidate’s soft skills:

  • Communication

Candidates should present their portfolios with clarity. You’ll want them to be able to do the same when trying to achieve common grounds with your clients.

  • Emotional Intelligence

Look for signs about the candidate works with others while managing their emotions.

  • Time Management

Projects are time-based, so candidates must be able to present their ideas within time constraints requiring self-discipline and organization. Blown deadlines cost money and reputation.

A strong portfolio will reveal the candidate traits you’re looking for — either in the designs or the presentation. Knowing what you’re looking for in candidate portfolios will help you select the right candidate for your fir

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