Preparing a Portfolio for an Interview

Avoid This Scenario

Imagine for a moment that you have arrived at an interview for your first teaching position. You are on time, professionally dressed, and armed with a well-developed portfolio. Your interviewer invites you to sit down and begins to ask a barrage of questions. Your mind goes blank; you do not know how to respond to most of the questions. After stammering through them as best you can, you realize that no one has asked to look at your portfolio. Before leaving, you ask the interviewer if he would like to see it. "I'm sure it's really interesting. However I have several other interviews today and can't spend the time browsing through your portfolio right now. Thanks anyway," he says. You leave with confidence shaken, feeling quite sure that you will not be hired for the position.

The Importance of Preparation

It is imperative to prepare. Your professional appearance and your neatly organized portfolio will probably not be enough. You will need to plan ways to effectively handle questions and incorporate the portfolio into your interview responses. This enables you to present yourself as an effective communicator who can offer specific, concrete documentation of your teaching abilities. Most interviewers prefer you reference the portfolio during the interview, rather than simply offer it to them to peruse. This saves them time; more importantly, it shows them how well you communicate. Some interviewers may ask you to leave your portfolio with them so that they can later examine it on their own. Still others may not be familiar with portfolios and would not be inclined to initiate discussion about yours. Regardless of the situation in which you find yourself, you can utilize your portfolio to your advantage during the interview - if you are properly prepared.

Before the Interview

To use your portfolio as an interviewing tool, you need to do these things well before the interview takes place:

  1. Streamline the portfolio so that it only contains the most pertinent documents, based on the questions that you anticipate.

  2. Create a brochure that summarizes your presentation portfolio.

  3. Plan a response to each anticipated question that incorporates your portfolio documents.

Using your portfolio as an interviewing tool means that you will need to present it in a concise and thoughtful manner. To do so, it is necessary to think about the type of questions that will likely be asked in your interview. This can help you streamline, or winnow, the portfolio so that it is a compact picture of your professionalism. Then, you will need to be thoroughly knowledgeable about its contents, so that as you answer the interviewer's questions, you can support your responses with documents and access them instantly. All of this can help you accomplish your goal in the interview – getting the job.

More on Finding a Teaching Job

Excerpted from How to Develop a Professional Portfolio, by Campbell, Cignetti, Melenyzer, Nettles, Wyman

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