Job Interview Tools Part 1: Do People Still Carry Portfolios?

portfolioI have a beautiful portfolio with my initials on it. My friend, Stuart, gave it to me years ago. Stuart was influential in my career, helping me determine that I really was in the proper career during a really extended job search. So that portfolio means something to me. Every time I look at that portfolio I remember the confidence Stuart had in my abilities. I sit up a little straighter.

A portfolio or fancy folder, is a holdover from an olden day when people who worked in offices wore suits to work and wanted to look professional.

These days we don’t wear suits. We dress to reflect our individuality. We seek comfort in exchange for the long hours. Or maybe you work at home in your pajamas, the true reflection of work comfort.

An interview is not like real life. An interview is special. You get dressed up for an interview and try to look as professional as possible. Or rather, you try to leave the impression that you will be a great fit for the team in whatever way the team defines “great fit”.

Interviews are all about impressions. Sort of like play acting. You need the right costume. A fancy portfolio fits the costume.

You choose props to support the impression you want to make. Do you want to look strong, confident, friendly, easy going, or hard core? Each impression might have a different kind of prop to support the image. It is all strategic.

Let’s say you are a man or a woman who wants to leave the impression that you are an executive who wants to work in the board room. You are properly dressed in a nice dark suit. Would you wear lime green gym shoes? No, you select shoes that match the impression you are trying to make. All the props need to match the impression you are trying to leave.

When my daughter graduated from college I bought her a beautiful handmade eelskin portfolio. She uses it for interviews and important business meetings when she wants to make an impression.

Think of it this way: Would you stuff scrap paper in your pockets with a stubby golf pencil? Or would you go to that executive-boardroom type interview without paper and pencil? What impression would you give? The interviewer would have the right to think you were not prepared and probably would not be prepared if they hired you.

In the same way you would not wear lime green gym shoes with a dark business suit, you do not want to stuff scraps of paper in your pocket or pull out a stubby golf pencil.

Having a portfolio allows you to carry information with you in a convenient, neat manner while supporting the impression you want to make.


  1. […] You’ll want to bring hard copies of your resume, references, and other job-search materials to the interview. Carry these in a portfolio for a polished look. […]

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