A scene from an interview in an Asian company. We can see two confident and well-dressed interviewers, and one job applicant. When trying to get a job in an interview, most people think only about their interview answers.

Your attire, your non-verbal communication, the things you bring to the interview with you–all of that plays a role in the decision making of the HR managers.

Just a few job seekers think about creating a portfolio, or bringing one to the interview with them. At first, let me explain what a portfolio (sometimes called also work portfolio, or career portfolio) is:

  • Portfolio is more in-depth than a resume, and it explains your education, skills and abilities, working experience and achievement, in a simple to understand yet attractive and professional way. For creatives, it often stands for a collection of their best works.


Paper or online portfolio

The two most common forms of work (career) portfolio are online, and paper. Each of them has some advantages, and you can actually have both.

Nowadays, when it is easy to make a website (think WordPress, Blogger from Google, or even specialized portals for creatives, such as PortfolioBox.net) one can create their portfolio in a few hours.

Nice work portfolio in red leather skin, and another one in a black leather cover

Online portfolio makes it easy to link to your best works in your job applications (that are also submitted mostly online), but if you are not tech savvy, it can be tricky to make it in a right way (beautiful, meaningful, and unique). What is more, not all employers have experience with the portfolios, and some may even ignore the link to the portfolio you include in your application.

When you have it on paper, however, it is easy to show it to the interviewers, and you can even leave them a copy for their consideration.

What is more, leaving them a copy (or even original) of your portfolio is great excuse for a follow up call. You will call them to collect your portfolio, and, just by chance, you will use the opportunity to ask them whether they still consider hiring you. If the answer is negative, you can at least use the call to get a valuable feedback on your interview performance, trying to understand the reason why they chose someone else for the job.

Collection of your best works

The crucial part of the work portfolio is a collection of the best samples of your work, and achievements

For example:

  • If you are working as a chef and applying for a job of a chef, you can include recipes of your specialties, recommendations from the restaurants where you worked, training certificates and inspection reports. (Of course, tasting samples of your specialties is a must for anyone hiring a chef.) You can include also your chef certificates, and anything other that demonstrates your abilities in this particular job field.
  • If you are construction worker, you can include photos of the buildings you have worked on during construction and close ups of your construction techniques, a list of projects you have worked on, records that illustrate your ability to meet deadlines and maintain high levels of safety, as well as your training certificates, diplomas, etc.
  • If you are a web designer, you can include pictures of the websites you design, describing the key functionality and a goal you had in mind while designing each particular website.


What else you should include in your portfolio?

A nice video on YouTube will tell you (you do not necessarily have to include everything the lady recommends, but you can include any item from her list).


Things to keep on mind when creating the portfolio

  • Pay special attention to the quality of the paper and the design. Portfolio demonstrates not only your working experience and achievements. It also shows us your sense for detail, your marketing and communication skills.
  • Do not leave your portfolio to the interviewers, unless you plan to collect it back. Show it to them and then take it with you. The best portfolios are pieces of art, and in an ideal case you will have an online version of your portfolio, one you can refer them to if they want to check it later. 
  • Try to make it simple, not more than 15 pages. Try to avoid having too much text, rather include more pictures – do not forget, the visualization matters. If your portfolio has 100 pages (I have already seen such portfolios), nobody will remember the first page once they look at the last one….
  • If you can, try to make it unique. Do you have any special ideas for creating your portfolio? What about including one special page that declares your future professional goals? And what if these goals will “accidentally” relate to the job you try to get? This was just one idea. Do not hesitate to come up with more!

Portfolio can definitely help you to succeed in an interview. What is more, it also serves as a good reminder of what you have done and achieved in your professional career. Creating their portfolio typically makes people feel good, and confident. Create one and ace your interview!

What’s next?