Now that you have created your interview portfolio, familiarize yourself with its structure.
If you haven’t yet created your interview portfolio, refer to these previous posts:
- Gather materials for your interview portfolio.
- How to create your interview portfolio.
- How to create an online interview portfolio.
If you have tabbed and labeled your hand-carried portfolio or made a linked table of contents for your online portfolio, you can easily find specific areas to which you want to refer. Practice handling your portfolio until it takes mere seconds to find any area in the document.
Before using a portfolio in an interview, you will need to rehearse. Role-play an interview with your interview coach, a friend, colleague, or family member. Practice referring to your portfolio when you answer questions. Think of your portfolio as evidence that backs up your verbal answers and illustrations of your knowledge and expertise.
The best interviews are conversations rather than interrogations. Become comfortable with incorporating your portfolio as part of your natural conversation. Anticipating common behavioral interview questions (Tell me what you did in this type of situation) and the answers you want to give — including the illustration in your portfolio — will support a solid interview performance and show foresight and planning skills.
Examples of questions you may want to illustrate with your portfolio include:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What major challenge have you faced, and how did you handle it?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What was your greatest accomplishment?
- What was your greatest failure?
- What did you learn from your mistakes?
At the beginning of the job interview, let the interviewer know you’ve prepared a portfolio that illustrates your qualifications and accomplishments. Offer to let him/her review it. If the interviewer declines, set it aside until you need it to illustrate a point or answer a question in the interview.
You can offer the portfolio again at the conclusion of the interview. In general, you will not want to leave your portfolio with the interviewer, unless you are specifically asked to do so. Being asked to leave it is a great sign that the interview went well.
However, it’s not likely to be returned. If you aren’t offered the job, you can follow up and request the book back, but don’t be surprised if the interviewer can’t locate it or says it’s been discarded. This happens.
Instead, consider creating a specific leave-behind version of your portfolio. You can have a bound book made at your local office supply store. Have your customized cover printed on cardstock, and have the book wire-bound or spiral-bound.
If you have not created a specific leave-behind portfolio and you are asked to leave a portfolio with the interviewer, immediately start working on creating a replacement book. If the original book is returned, you’ll have a spare. This is also why it’s so important not to include original photos or documents in your portfolio.
Building your portfolio from scratch will take some time, but you can start small and improve it over time. Keep it updated and when an opportunity presents itself, you’ll be ready to respond.