Design Roles

How to hire a graduate for a role in Design

Candidate profile:

A creative minded, technical individual with a passion for design and a great eye for detail who is good at collaborating with and working with others. They should have strong communication skills to be able to clearly articulate their ideas and visions to the rest of the team. They should also be able to instigate their ideas quickly and effectively.

Any design-based course will have given the candidate a good grounding and introduction to the skills needed for a role in design, e.g. Graphic Design, Visual Art, Photography, Illustration, Fine Art, 3D Design, Communication Design. However, if the candidate has some relevant experience then the degree which they completed becomes less important. For more technical roles like software design or web design the best candidates will also have some experience or qualifications in technology e.g. Computer Science. As Digital roles often encompass a large range of specialities, candidates may have specific qualifications and experience tailored to the role you offer and your company.

Top skills:

  1. Attention to detail: sticking to a detailed specification or polishing a design requires close attention to detail.
  2. Time management: you are looking for someone who can manage lots of projects at the same time without making mistakes or missing deadlines.
  3. Verbal & written communication: being able to explain a concept or discuss an idea clearly and effectively is key for a designer.
  4. Creative: they need to have lots of fresh ideas!
  5. Technical: these will vary depending on the role and which tools your existing design team use. Knowledge of Photoshop and Illustrator is a pretty standard requirement for most design roles, and other common programs are Sketch, Wireframing, UXPin, InVision and Marvel.

Non-office experience:

  • Any artistic experience is a plus – this could range from drawing in their free time to having worked on a photoshoot. What’s key is that the candidate has a passion for art and the creative process.
  • If a candidate has built a website or webpage then this is also valuable and worth asking to see.
  • Similarly, any experience working in editing on a university newspaper or creative direction would be beneficial.

Office experience:

  • As a graduate it is unlikely that they will have much experience, but some sort of previous office experience in design which included involvement in a live project and has enabled the candidate to build their portfolio would be very beneficial.
  • Additionally any experience in which the candidate was required to put together a presentation and deliver it is valuable as this demonstrates that the candidate has the confidence and skills required to explain and sell their ideas to clients and colleagues.

Green flag

  • Shows understanding of your brand and its values.
  • Someone who can listen well and take instructions.
  • Someone who is actively creative and has original, exciting, and innovative ways of looking at tasks and projects.

Red flag

  • Finds it hard to communicate or think clearly under pressure.
  • Their creative thinking does not match that of your company’s.
  • Someone who lacks originality and passion for design and creativity.


  • Setting a small sample project that takes no longer than 1 hour to complete is the best way to assess and to narrow down your candidates effectively, by making them put their creative skills to use and assessing how they cope under time pressure. You could then ask them to pitch their design at the interview and explain their creative process behind the task. This could be set either before or after the interview.

At interview:

  • Asking the candidate to critique a competitor’s design piece and explain both things that the competitor does well and things that could be improved is a fantastic way to both assess their design process and creative skills as well as gaining an insight into their ability to present and communicate and think on the spot.
  • A good question to ask is which brands the candidate most admires and how they influence their work. This presents you with a good opportunity to assess whether the candidate is on top of design trends and if they are a good fit for your specific business needs. By asking this type of question, you’ll also be able to assess their overall grasp of design in conjunction with marketing and branding.

Employee’s Expectations

Entry-level roles tend to be on the lower end of the scale, so an entry-level graphic designer is looking at £15,000 - £20,000 per annum. A candidate may expect ample opportunity to build their own portfolio and gain experience in a variety of different design capacities.

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