Interview Skill Building with Show and Tell Materials


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Interviewing? Carry a portfolio of goodies to win the job.

No, I don’t mean candy or sweets. When you go on an interview you should have some idea of what the prospective employer is looking for and what the job duties are going to be. This is what they are planning on buying from you. The skills necessary to perform the job are what you are selling. Take some examples of your skills and achievements with you on the interview. As a recruiter with 30 years experience I can tell you that this one suggestion will turn at least half your interviews into job offers.

You can talk all you want about your skills and abilities, but the clincher will be to pull out some examples of your work. Copies of reports, memos, presentations, and a nice list of references will make your interview stand out and will get you remembered as the one candidate with show and tell materials that prove he or she can do the job. This article is about how to set up your Portfolio of Achievements.

Start with a three ring binder with a white cover with your name inside the plastic sleeve. Inside put in a dozen clear sheet protectors. Insert your materials into the sheet protectors. For a person with a few years of experience you could have a binder with a ¼ inch or ½ inch back. More than that and you are pushing the interviewer’s patience.

I suggest the following items in your portfolio: A fresh copy of your resume, a list of three business references with their names and addresses and phone numbers, a copy of your diploma, a copy of your transcript, and a copy of any letters of merit, at-a-boy letters or congratulatory messages. Also be careful to include items that specifically cover the duties outlined in the job posting or advertisement. If this is for a technical job then you need a page or two of your engineering or scientific work. For other fields you need reports, graphs, and printouts and so on. Writing skills are essential in any position so include some pages of material that you are currently working on or have had published. Usually the first couple of pages of a report, study or publication are sufficient.

Not only should you take this with you, you have to pull it out and show it to the people you are interviewing with to make it work. As strange as it may seem, I have had people take their portfolio along and never put it on the table for discussion and viewing. The portfolio is far more valuable as a talking tool than it is for people to study for hours. Get close to your interviewer on the same side of the table, look quickly through the material together, talk about what you have done and point out your examples in your binder. This will make it easy for you to talk about your accomplishments and facilitate your conversation.

What if the interviewer or company wants a copy of your materials? Copies of your resume and reference list are ok, but beyond that say no; it is personal information and possibly company data that you do not want copied. You are not supposed to be giving away anything for free on an interview.

Over the years I have modified my suggestion for a portfolio to include fewer basic materials like driver’s licenses and basic computer course certificates, and more items relevant to today’s business such as Excel charts and graphs or database lists. Vary the contents to suit what the prospective employer is doing and what that job entails.

Try this approach on your next shot at a career move and see if it proves to be a valid assistant when you interview. Send me a message and let me know how it works out for you.

Dan Brockman
Professional Recruiter Since 1975
Barrington, IL
847 382 6015

Dan Brockman is a professional recruiter with 30 years experience in training candidates to handle interviews and obtain jobs.


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