Developing a portfolio for interviewing is a seriously overlooked tool that can make an extremely positive impact during the interview process.
An employment portfolio is not a “should;” it is a “must” for crafting a positive presence in the interview. Like your resume and cover letter, it is another aspect of your marketing presentation.
An interview portfolio will:
- Show samples of work to the employer. If you are a new graduate, this is of further value in demonstrating hands-on abilities gained from coursework and projects.
- Help visually add to interview answers, a major bonus if you are nervous or concerned about your ability to communicate value effectively in the interview process.
- Impressively showcase accomplishments, training, and experiences.
- Do the talking for you!
How to create an interview portfolio
Use a 1” three-ring binder or similar folder for your portfolio. The kind with the clear pocket front is especially effective as a cover can be added. Insert clear plastic pages inside the notebook to hold documents safely. Here are some of the items to consider including in the portfolio:
- Cover Letter
- Reference Page
- Copies of Letters of Recommendation
- Copies of Educational Certificates, Certifications, Licenses and Degrees
- Copies of Transcripts
- Copies of Awards, Honors, or other Recognition
- Samples of Work or Summaries of Projects. This could include a report you wrote, a print out of a spreadsheet you designed, a flow chart, a test you took, etc.
- Positive employment evaluations
The use of copies of the original documents in the portfolio is highly recommended. It is not necessary to have originals of these documents in the portfolio. Do have more than one copy of each document in each plastic sleeve. That way, copies of any documents may be provided upon request.
How to use a portfolio
Now that the portfolio has been compiled, how should you use it?
First, remember to take it with you to the interview! When you enter the interviewer’s office, you may ask to set it on the desk in front of them. If that is not possible, they may hold it aside until they can refer to it. Sometimes by placing it on the desk, the employer will ask to look through it. This can actually change the structure of the interview, with the employer looking through it and asking specific questions about what he or she sees. This is especially valuable if you are nervous, shy, or struggle to communicate your responses well.
If this does not happen, you can refer to the portfolio when answering questions. For instance, when the interviewer asks about accomplishments, you might open the portfolio and show the interviewer awards while discussing what they are for. Or, in the case of a new graduate, samples of coursework or papers written might be used to show visual examples of skills.
You will find that a portfolio will give you a polished and professional look while building proof of your value. Further, it will show that you have gone the extra mile to demonstrate your commitment to a positive presentation.