We recently invited a team of top creative recruiters from Creative Circle to Shillington New York, interview our students and review their design portfolios. A valuable opportunity for fresh graduates to share their design work, discuss their experience and get a first taste of industry life.

Creative Circle definitely knows their stuff—they’ve been the leader in creative staffing for more than 15 years and in 2015 were named the #1 marketing and creative staffing firm in the United States. In addition to this track record, they run a super resourceful blog packed full of career tips and advice.

Stakes were high for these graduate interviews. Most of our students have no prior experience—their only design training and experience comes from our 3 month design courseSo how did they stack up? What did the recruiters think about Shillington student’s work and employability? How do they compare to graduates of longer courses or university degrees? Read on to find out.

When you see hundreds of design portfolios a day, what really stands out, and do Shillington graduates have what it takes?

What are the most important skills and traits you look for when hiring a designer?

Brian Young, Lead Recruiter: Designers should be able to talk through the “what and why” of their work and properly articulate their design portfolio. They need to be able to defend the creative decisions they made based on the creative brief, including process. When searching for a particular client need—the designer’s aesthetic should work with clients’ brand. Additionally, the designer must have a mastery of the essential design programs.

Top interview tips for designers? Any pet peeves?

Be on time and come prepared, with a copy of your resume and design portfolio (iPad / laptop / physical portfolio). Digital portfolios should be able to be viewed WITHOUT wifi. Do your research—know who you’re interviewing with. Know their work and be able to show relevant work samples. Practice your elevator pitch. Be able to talk fluently about your work and know who you are and what you’re capable of – design wise. My biggest pet peeve – not bringing a resume to an interview! Be prepared.


How much did you know about Shillington before the portfolio reviews? What did you think about a 3 month full-time / 9 month part-time course?

The team and I were very familiar with Shillington before the recent portfolio review. We have led tutorials, worked with and placed Shillington graduates in the past. Having options for students (3 months and 9 month program options) is an ideal situation that is sure to integrate well into anyone’s schedule.  

What did you think of the Shillington students and portfolios? 

The students and their work were great! The level of design that we reviewed was top notch.

The design portfolios were on par with other design school graduates and would certainly command attention from a hiring manager.

We found the student body to be diverse and knowledgeable. We found that students with prior creative backgrounds added depth to their design acumen while students  diving into design for the first time truly gained an understanding of fundamental design principles and more advanced nuances. Taking Shillington’s coursework a step further and studying art and design history would add to a more well-rounded design approach / eye.

Anything else you’d like to share?

We would encourage students to learn Keynote and PowerPoint on their own so they can hit the ground running in the competitive design marketplace. 

Want to see Shillington portfolios for yourself? Check out our Student Showcase or join us for an upcoming Graduate Exhibition.

Portfolio GIFs from top to bottom –> Kirsten McColl, Miranda MayneMeredith Wallis, Sheli Kuperman and Alexander Wu-Kim. Click through to watch the full video of their portfolios!

Thanks again to Brian Young and the Creative Circle team for interviewing our students and sharing some career advice. For more, be sure to follow them on Twitter and Instagram!