Before working in your home office, you might have to secure the job in person. Here's how to stay organized and looking good during your interviews.
Picture arriving to an exciting interview feeling confident and prepared. You’re sitting across the desk from your potential boss when they ask you if you’ve brought an extra resume with you, and you realize that you haven’t. In fact, you wouldn’t even have anywhere to keep it if you did.
This is a scenario you want to avoid at all costs. Showing the hiring manager that you are prepared with important documents will increase the likelihood that your interview goes the way you want it to.
It’s surprisingly common that hiring managers don’t have a copy of your resume on hand, or even your application, so having this covered is crucial. One way that you can ensure you’re always ready with anything you may need in an interview is to carry a portfolio with you.
Bring Your Best Stuff
A portfolio is a solid way to defend and support your qualifications and to do your best to ace the interview. Capable, intelligent job seekers are aware of the fact that they must sell themselves effectively. This includes staying on top of challenging questions and being ready to mitigate any possible concerns about their experience or job history.
But only a small number of active seekers actually utilize this strategy. This is because they either haven’t thought of it yet, aren’t sure what they would put inside of a portfolio, or simple don’t feel like putting the effort into assembling one.
But this is good news for you, because those who do take the time to put one together will make a memorable impression among the sea of applicants. Use this strategy not only to stand out among other job candidates, but to prove your abilities to the hiring manager.
A professional portfolio can help you give samples of the work you do, including Six Sigma experience, advertisements, designs for clothing, or architecture blueprints. A brand new graduate, for example, with a specialty in programming, could present a sheet with the functions they are able to perform with specific languages or tools, instead of launching into an exhaustive list verbally. For a sales job, you might bring an example newsletter you made with an award you won for high numbers at your last job.
Organization as the Key to a Confident Interview
Whatever job it is, your portfolio can hold relevant material for the interview. Another benefit to keeping an updated career portfolio is that you will find it simpler to update your resume with all of your information in one place and will be more prepared to discuss your previous accomplishments.
This doesn’t only help with job interviews; a portfolio can store all you need for upcoming yearly evaluations or potential promotions. So what exactly should your portfolio have in it?
The contents of interview portfolios may vary a lot across the board, but typically contain a resume (along with extra copies), a page of references, your cover letter, recommendation letters, and proof of your degrees, licenses, or any other certifications.
You can also carry records of your transcripts, honors or awards, project summaries or examples (such as flowcharts or reports), and positive evaluations from previous employers. The beauty of an interview portfolio is that you can be creative with it and make it completely personalized. You only have a limited time In your interview, so your portfolio can speak for you when it comes to your talents, qualifications, and abilities.
When you have recently graduated and don’t have any concrete career experience in the field yet, this is your chance to show your experience with coursework. Many interviewees are concerned or nervous about how well they will showcase their own value.
According to research, being a bit anxious is actually more common than being calm before and during the process. So a visual representation for interview answers can help calm your nerves immensely. All in all, this is an impressive way to prove your experiences, training, and accomplishments and it’s never too late or soon to begin creating or saving documents to add to your future portfolio.
Another thing to have covered is any necessary hiring documents and information. You want to be prepared for hire right on the spot once the interview is done. Make sure you include your social security card and driver’s license inside, both of which you will need if you get a job offer.
Some companies will ask for two different forms of ID, so bring a backup, such as a passport, as well. Carry a pen and paper in with you for note-taking during your interview. Doing this will help you not only with retaining information, but with appearing careful and capable with what you learn.
You may also want to bring a fact sheet with you for your personal reference, which will include the phone numbers, addresses, dates, and names of our previous jobs. If you have a profile on a site like LinkedIn, a print-out of your website profile will help, along with extra handwritten information like dates and phone numbers.
This will aid the hiring managers with background information on you. Going to your interview with the needed documents will make your confidence and sense of preparedness soar, and you’ll be ready to accept immediately when they ask you to join the company.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
Sure, when it comes to an interview, it’s your qualifications that matter most. But everything you bring to the table (literally and metaphorically) when you meet your potential manager will be on display during that first impression.
Aside from what goes inside of your portfolio, the quality and design of the folder itself matters too. It can send a positive message of polished and professional style, or, if you aren’t careful, the exact opposite. How will you know when you’ve found the right choice?
What to Look for in a Leather Portfolio for Interviews
Quality craftsmanship built to last: When you go for a leather product, no matter what it is, you expect it to last a long time and age with grace. Apart from its attractive look, this is a major reason why people choose to own leather items.
A well-made product will include quality stitching and a durable design that won’t break or stain easily. With some products, this may mean that they require a period of time to break them in, as leather products usually do. Ideally, the folder will adjust to you and become even better as time goes on, like a pair of leather shoes.
Designed for simple organization: When you’re in an interview, you must have access to what you need at a moment’s notice. Whether it’s a copy of your cover letter, charts that prove your abilities with advertising, or your sheet of references, a portfolio designed with simple organization in mind will help for quick retrieval.
You have enough on your mind, and with this kind of design, remembering where your items are at all times will be easy. The last thing you want is to have to fumble around when asked for something, so make sure you come prepared with a portfolio designed to aid you in this area.
Storage space: Although you want your portfolio to be built with simple organization in mind, you also need to be able to fit everything you need inside without struggle. Depending on your needs, this could mean a few business cards, a notepad, and some sheets of loose paper.
You might, on the other hand, require that it also has space for your smart phone, tablet, or more than one pen. Either way, it’s best to go with something that will fit more than you think you need, just in case. At the same time, you should ensure that it comfortably fits into your briefcase or purse for portability.
A professional, yet versatile look: Maybe you need to show up to a job interview wearing a black suit one day, and give a presentation in a blue one the next. Whatever the occasion, picking the right portfolio will help you appear put-together and complement the style you choose.
Looking good will send the signals you are hoping to send to the hiring manager. Using a portfolio, in the first place, is meant to help you come across as prepared and professional, so make sure you choose one that looks nice with a variety of outfits.
Here are the best leather portfolios for interviews and other meetings based on quality, value and overall user experience.
- Royce Leather Shiny Leather Writing Portfolio
- KomalC Genuine Leather Business Portfolio
- Cossini Premium Leather Business Portfolio
- Leatherology Deluxe Portfolio
- STYLIO Resume Portfolio Folder
Royce Leather Shiny Leather Writing Portfolio
Leather artisan and native Austrian, Eugene Bauer, started a successful tradition of goods made of luxurious leather back in 1944 when he crafted his very first wallet. Now that three generations have passed, the Royce Brand and Bauer Family continue to stay true to this original vision.
The brand strives to merge American functionality and Austrian Aesthetics in each of their fine leather products, created with careful, expert craftsmanship.
Their Royce Leather Shiny Leather Writing Portfolio, Writing Pad, Presentation Fold is a perfect example of this standard and has a classic design for dedicated professionals. Made with amazing quality leather, this product is budget-conscious, practical, and comes with a pocket for business cards, along with a window for your ID for visibility.
You will also find an extra pocket, along with a flap with an 11 by 8.5 inch notepad, although it doesn’t come with a pen. It’s the perfect size, more compact than other products on the market, and looks very professional.
Since this is made from strong and durable leather, you will have to break in the portfolio’s leather pockets. At first, you will notice that they are very tight, but you can begin by putting 4 sheets of thick paper into it.
Then wait until the next day and put another 4 inside. Keep adding sheets for a few days and once you have the front pocket stretched out a bit, you’ll be able to fit about 12 or more pages in easily. This process doesn’t need to be overdone and you will find that the folder’s back pocket is able to fit a fair amount of papers inside, as well.
You can easily fit resumes, flyers, business cards, your pen, and your own notepad, if you wish.
Since the product is made well with quality materials, you will find that it does adjust to your personal preferences, as with any other leather product. The stitching holds and the elegant material maintains its attractive quality over the years. This product is perfect for your own personal use or can be given as a gift since it comes delivered in a nice box.Check Amazon Price
Best Upgrade Pick
KomalC Genuine Leather Business Portfolio
KomalC was created based on admiration for handmade goods for both women and men. For those who enjoy a vintage-inspired, classy look, the KomalC Genuine Leather Business Portfolio is a great choice, and our best upgrade pick on the list.
This quality product is crafted from real buffalo leather, built to be luxurious yet affordable, and has been hand-stitched by talented and experienced artisans. This personal organizer comes with a simple design for holding your cards, loose papers, ID cards, and pen. The size of the portfolio is 10 by 14 inches and it makes a great gift for students, creative types, and professionals.
The design inside is simple, without a ton of pockets, which means you’ll easily find what you need each time you open it up. The leather has a nice rich smell and is obviously handmade with care and attention to detail.
You can fit a notepad and additional pages inside the folder easily and it fits into your briefcase or bag perfectly, even when full. The portfolio is thin and minimalist, relatively affordable, and comes in a nice package along with care instructions to make sure it retains its quality over time.
You will find a hand-signed note inside from the person who made the folder, which is a nice personal touch. This is a practical and classy way to showcase your experience or store your notes.Check Amazon Price
Best for Organization
Cossini Premium Leather Business Portfolio
The Cossini Premium PU Leather Business Portfolio / Padfolio with Zippered Closure and Interior 10.1 Inch Tablet Sleeve is the product that is best for organization on our list. Designed to be simple and smart, it’s great for both women and men and designed to look elegant and classy. It’s crafted from durable, smooth, and high-quality leather with carefully crafted seams.
Far from looking plain or boring, this portfolio comes embossed with the Cossini monogram, lending your folder a royal appearance, complementing your professional style, and helping you win your positive first impression.
Although the product is obviously crafted with a nice appearance in mind, it’s also designed to protect your important belongings from unfortunate run-ins with water, coffee, dirt, or soda spills.
It allows you to keep your small devices and documents all in one space and is perfect for students and businesspeople alike. Whether you are attending meetings, taking classes, or (of course) trying to ace an interview, you will stay up-to-date and organized with this product.
The folder comes with an outer-pocket on the front for keeping often-used objects within easy reach. A bonus calculator is included, but this can easily be replaced by your smart phone instead, as many will want to do.
This product is a good size and can fit your tablet, phone, notepad, pages of paper, cards, keys, gum, and more. It will keep your electronic devices safe inside of your briefcase with plenty of room to spare for any loose papers you might acquire.
The brand offers satisfaction guaranteed with a full refund if you aren’t satisfied for some reason. The portfolio, like others on the list, comes in a box which makes it perfect for giving as a gift.Check Amazon Price
Best Executive Option
Leatherology Deluxe Portfolio
Leatherology was founded back in 2008 with one goal in mind; to make the best men’s wallet possible. They wanted to stand out in an existing market full of expensive designer items, heavily branded wallets, or low quality products, and ultimately provide an alternative to the status quo.
They branched out from creating wallets to make a large range of tech, travel, and business accessories in many colors for both women and men.
Their Leatherology Deluxe Portfolio is our best executive option available on the list. It’s 9.5 by 12.5 inches and comes with an ID window, 2 small pockets on the inside (perfect for holding your smartphone), and 3 slots for holding any business or credit cards you need to keep on hand.
There is also a large pocket inside for your tablet or necessary documents. This portfolio helps the busy college student or professional remain organized even in hectic and frantic times. Perhaps you need a folder for sketching your plans out or for storing important notes. Either way, this full grain leather folder will be useful on a day to day basis.
This portfolio can be comfortably used by both right-handed and left-handed customers due to its universal and non-zippered design. The product is easy to organize in a simple and efficient manner and looks distinctive, yet casual and tasteful.
The leather is soft to the touch and looks very polished, coming in a variety of shades so you can find the one that fits your personality best. The portfolio will age gracefully and stand the test of time, providing you with elegant organization for years to come. Keep in mind that the textures of this collection vary from pebbled grain to light grain according to which area of hide it came from.Check Amazon Price
Best Budget Pick
STYLIO Resume Portfolio Folder
Next on our list we have the best budget option, the STYLIO Padfolio/ Resume Portfolio Folder – Interview/ Legal Document Organizer & Business Card Holder. The makers of this portfolio are dedicated to helping you make the best impression the first time around. This product will help you feel prepared for business in an organized fashion, making the most of your interview.
The folder is stylish, sleek, and built to be slim. It has a synthetic leather design with accessible, convenient product features, including a refillable, hardcover holder for your legal and notepads. The portfolio allows you to keep your crucial papers easy to access, on hand, and always up to date.
The convenience, versatility, and style of this folder allow you to confidently walk into the interview for your ideal job. It has multiple protectors, pockets, slots, two holders for easy access to your business cards, and tasteful, attractive grey stitching along the borders. You will also find a holder inside for your pen; something you should never forget to bring to an interview.
The finishing is both smooth and matte, unlike other flimsy or overly glossy organizers available on the market. It fits perfectly into your bag or briefcase and fits everything you need, even though it’s designed to appear minimalistic and slim.
It does all of this without getting too bulky. Store the portfolio in your backpack or purse when you aren’t using it and still have plenty of room for your binders or day planner.
The folder has a solid and trustworthy construction, providing a nice support for using the notepad on. Although it is strong and durable, it doesn’t feel too stiff when you open and close it.
The portfolio does its job well as an organizer for your business products and as a place to both write and keep important notes. While some portfolio folders are limited in pockets, this one comes with plenty of slots. The product comes in piano black and is built to last. You can give this as a gift to a recent graduate or aspiring attorney as it comes in nice packaging. Its versatile look is suitable for both women and men.Check Amazon Price
How to Dress your Best for an Interview
Before an interviewee has a chance to make a good impression with their words, they have already created one with their clothes, whether they realize it or not. It’s always better to make sure that this is a positive one. The tips given here are meant to apply to a wide variety of jobs and interview situations.
- Dress up, not down: You should dress in a style that is relevant and appropriate for your position. This usually means that you should wear a suit (or a conservative skirt, for women). In nearly every case, it’s not appropriate to wear casual clothes to an interview, even if the company has a lax policy for their dress code. This should include a jacket and pants (that match), a dress shirt, a tie if you’re a male, and dark, professional colors. Women should wear a tasteful blouse, in a neutral color, that isn’t too sheer or low-cut.
- Be conservative: An interview is not the time to show how trendy you are, so stick with classic or traditional styles. This means avoiding flashy patterns or colors, loud ties, and anything leopard print or lacy, if you’re a woman. If you’re wondering whether or not your skirt is the right length, it’s probably too short. Opting for a knee-length style is your safest bet. Looking conservative and professional also means keeping your hairstyle neutral and neat, shaving your face, or keeping your makeup to a minimum.
- Consider comfort, too: Your clothes should fit well and be comfortable so that you not only look but act your absolute best. If you don’t feel good in what you’re wearing, this will probably be quite apparent to the hiring manager. People wearing uncomfortable clothes fidget and this sends all the wrong signals to your potential boss. Take this time to go out and buy a new, well-fitting outfit if you don’t already have one that is appropriate for this occasion. Another option is to have one tailored for you, if possible.
- Shoes: Your shoes should be in decent condition and have low heels if you’re a woman. Leave the old, scuffed dress shoes at home. Choose a neutral and non-distracting color like black, deep gray, or dark brown. You should never, in any circumstance, wear tennis shoes or sandals to your interview. If you’re in doubt about making the right choice, visit a shoe store and ask for some professional guidance. It’s worth the extra time and money, since you’ll earn it back when you get your job!
- Other considerations: Although this doesn’t have anything to do with clothes, it matters as well. Don’t use perfume or cologne before the interview, as it might be distracting to the hiring manager. You should also make sure your breath is fresh which means no smoking or eating strong foods right before you go in. You want to appear clean and organized, so iron your clothes or get them dry cleaned and run the lint roller over your suit beforehand. Follow these rules and you will look perfectly presentable for the big occasion.