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by Vault Education Editors | April 19, 2010


Bruce Wayne never went on an interview in his life. An international playboy and the inheritor of a family business worth obscene amounts of money, Wayne didn't even have to graduate from Princeton; he was already a made man. But imagine what might have happened had Bruce Wayne started off today. The stock market crash would have reduced Wayne Enterprises to a ghost of its former glory, and Bruce's only hope for maintaining his expensive brand of superhero do-goodery would have been to apply for an actual, real-life job. And in that case, he might have wanted to use an interview portfolio.

BatmanMany career advisors would suggest an interview portfolio for older (read: more experienced) candidates, yet there is no reason why new job-seekers couldn't also benefit from having one. The premise is relatively simple: assemble any and all materials that would be useful for a potential boss, then bring those materials along to the interview. Having an interview portfolio will set you apart from other applicants, spark conversation if there is a lull, and generally make you seem like a prepared and outstanding individual.

The contents of your interview portfolio are entirely up to you, and simply serve to highlight why you would be a good employee. Below is a brief set of guidelines--by no means hard and fast rules. For instance, because Batman's interview portfolio would have had its high points--evidence of heroism and feats of strength – and its low points; a half-complete undergraduate transcript and a resume devoid of any internship experience--he might have amended the list below to showcase his strengths. An interview portfolio should also not remain exactly the same for every job; rather, add and subtract materials to best suit the position to which you are applying.

An Interview Portfolio for New Job Seekers

  • Your resume: Obvious, right?

  • A transcript: Companies hiring recent graduates will be especially keen to see your grades and verify that you're up to snuff.

  • Letters of recommendation: If you've been employed in any way (including internships or part-time work), it's always good to solicit a written recommendation. A professor with whom you’ve worked closely can also be an excellent source. Interviewers will want to see verification of the accomplishments you claimed on your resume, along with information about how a potential hire interacts with his or her superiors.

  • Samples of your work: This category can include anything from that paper you wrote for your Shakespeare class, screen shots of a website you designed, or a brief your boss asked you to write up a few summers ago. The point here is to show off what you can do when it comes down to actually producing something.

  • Evidence of awards or certifications: If you're certified as an Emergency Medical Responder or recently received a grant to fly to China and study Maoist-era architecture, you may want your portfolio to reflect that.

  • The choose-your-own-adventure category: The contents of an interview portfolio will also vary depending on the industry in which you are applying. For instance, a hopeful teacher with tutoring experience might want to include a sample of his or her student's work or a parent testimonial. Batman might have added a video of him outsmarting the Penguin. In short, be creative.

Finally, there are a couple of ways of showing off your interview portfolio. You can either wait until an appropriate question is asked and then open to the relevant page with a cool panache that would awe any potential employer, or you can mention it up front to show how fantastically prepared you are. Many job-seekers will even mention it when they are setting up the interview, in case the interviewer would like to review it beforehand. Writing a short caption for each document is a good idea if you choose the latter, so that your portfolio can stand alone and make the points you want it to make.

In sum, an interview portfolio is an easy way to show yourself off as the excellent applicant that you are. It would be nice to inherit a multi-billion-dollar corporation and build your very own cave instead, but life isn't always perfect.

--Posted by Madison Priest


Filed Under: Education|Grad School

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