Interview portfolio

What is an interview portfolio? Do I need one?

Not all of our clients have thought about compiling an interview portfolio and we must admit we find that surprising.

Women wonder about what handbag to take, men don’t seem to think about taking anything beyond a notebook and phone, but most seem surprised when we suggest taking an interview portfolio.

Screwing up a location map and a copy of the job description into your pocket or handbag is not good enough.

Having a portfolio gives you the chance of a back up system meaning you can refer to your preparation at any stage of the interviewing process.

Taking out crumpled notes from the depths of your bag give you no points in the image stakes and do nothing for your confidence. You can do much better than that.

A professional looking portfolio will pay off in spades. It will look good and be a useful prop if you are feel nervous or lost for words.

Here are our interview portfolio tips

Find a smart ring binder (or folder with plastic wallets already inside). Make sure you have a decent looking pen that clips neatly onto the file. Double check that the whole thing supports your professional image.

Fill it with about 10 separate plastic wallets.

The important thing is to put your information back to back not one item to one sleeve.

The idea is so you can see two pages at once when you turn over. You will see why this is important later.

Assemble the file in this order:-

  • The company dossier & information
  • Pages from the company website –with important information highlighted
  • Directions to the interview venue
  • Your interview invite with contact names, interviewers, date, time & phone numbers clearly marked
  • The job description
  • The person specification if you have one
  • The job advert
  • Your CV-with spare copies just in case you need to hand them out
  • Your letter of application/application form
  • Your Interview Preparation Master Plan – if on two pages place them side by side so you can see the whole thing at a glance. You may be able to reduce this to a series of 'mind maps' or lists for easier reference when needed

  • Click here for your FREE Interview Preparation Master Plan

  • Questions you will ask when invited to at the end of the interview
  • Questions you would like answering but might not ask
  • Testimonials – with copies that you could hand out if you judge appropriate on the day
  • Any examples of work you feel might be relevant–with copies
  • Relevant certificates
  • A blank page for any notes

Now you have seen this list you might be surprised how much the interview portfolio should contain and wonder if it is necessary.Rest assured it is absolutely necessary.

Not only does it give a focus for your preparation but it looks organised and professional and is sure to impress an interviewer. (This is done so rarely anyone who is seen to go to this amount of trouble will almost certainly get a few brownie points for enthusiasm and planning).

Having an Interview Portfolio will go a long way to calming any nerves.

However the main reason for going to this trouble is so you always have helpful information to refer to. And aide memoir or giant crib note if you like. No guessing, no script. You can quickly turn to the appropriate page and it will remind you of the points you need to make.

If you put the information back to back in the sleeve you will quickly be able to see two pages at once.The two key pages you will need in the interview are your Interview Preparation Master Sheet (or a potted version) and the list of questions you want answering.

They should be easy to access and side by side. Then if you need to you can quickly and smoothly find them if you dry up and need a prompt. The font should be big enough so you can easily read it and written in note form, rather than a script.

Having spare copies of testimonials and examples of work mean that you have them at the ready to offer the interviewer if you feel the interview has gone well and they will add value to your answers. It can be seen as a thoughtful gesture and shows extra effort. If the content is good it will leave a positive impression with the recruiter.

An interviewer will not mind if you say

‘can I have a moment to check my notes just to make sure I’ve given you all the relevant information?'

You are not expected to remember everything or be word perfect.

Of course you cannot repeatedly turn the pages of your portfolio or read from a script. That would be distracting and even irritating. It must look natural.

Watch Prime Ministers Question Time in the House of Commons, every Wednesday while Parliament is sitting at 12.30pm, to see this technique in action.

With thorough preparation and practice you should remember the questions and answers without looking them up.

But it is good to have your interview portfolio as part of your own personal back up system.

To go from Interview Portfolio to Interview Preparation.