A portfolio is a collection of documents that illustrate your achievements, skills, personal traits and so on. It is generally used in an interview setting to demonstrate your abilities and prior experiences to an interviewer. It also provides you the opportunity to not only tell a potential employer why you are a strong candidate for a position, but also show why.
Traditionally, artists, designers, writers and others in creative professions have used portfolios to showcase their work. More recently, many school boards ask applicants for teaching positions to bring a portfolio to the interview.
A portfolio can be paper-based (presented physically as a binder or folder) or electronic (an “e-portfolio,” presented on a laptop or tablet).
What is in a portfolio?
Portfolios generally contain two types of documents: samples of your work and documents provided by someone else that speak to your achievements. These documents may include:
- certificates you’ve received for completing a project or course,
- reference letters,
- copies of your performance reviews for positions you’ve held,
- growth, development, or learning action plans,
- published articles,
- academic transcripts,
- self-assessment tools that explain your working or learning styles,
- conference summary reports,
- participant evaluations and quotes from events you organized, and
- team pictures and event brochures that demonstrate teamwork.
In some fields, there are very specific expectations or requirements for portfolio content (e.g. description of one’s professional philosophy).
We recommend creating a generic master portfolio that contains all of your documents, and then pulling together a specific, targeted portfolio based on the position you’re being interviewed for.