Preparing for a job interview can be as stressful and time consuming as any exam in college. Like your professors tell you, it’s better to prepare over time instead of “cramming” the night before. While exam preparation may be specific to a course or certification, creating a Development Portfolio will prepare you for interviews throughout your career.
The purpose of a Development Portfolio is to maintain an easily-referenced record of significant projects, writing, research, or other experiences that have helped you grow personally and professionally. Information from school, work, volunteering, community involvement, and personal experiences – any examples that demonstrate desirable qualities or valuable experience – should be included. These examples should showcase your capacity to learn and apply information in new contexts, to lead others and be part of a team, to overcome adversity, to develop creative solutions to problems, to deal with conflict, or any other skill or trait that will be useful in your career.
Job interviews often include situational, or behavioral, questions; they frequently begin with “Tell me about a time when…” A regularly reviewed and updated Development Portfolio can keep appropriate responses to these questions “front of mind.” A candidate that can easily recall and coherently explain a situation that demonstrates the capabilities sought by a hiring manager will appear confident and capable, making a positive impression on interviewers that use this technique.
In addition to preparing for an interview with a new company, a Development Portfolio can also be useful in other scenarios, including:
Gaining experience in each of these scenarios, as your career advances, will guide the evolution of your portfolio. As you learn what is important in each circumstance, you can tailor the entries to parallel the career path you choose. The format or medium used to create a portfolio is not important, so long as it does not inhibit your interaction with it. The Development Portfolio should be created for you, not for others. This allows you to focus on content that refreshes memory and reactivates learning without concern for presentation quality.
The earlier this portfolio is created, the more opportunities there will be for it to assist and guide you. However, no matter what stage of your career you are in, you can benefit from the thought process required to create your Development Portfolio. Though it may be incomplete, as some details are forgotten, a portfolio can still help you prepare for interviews and guide you for the remainder of your career.
My portfolio has shown me that the rocky road I have travelled has given me the ability and the desire to smooth the way for others. If you’d like help getting your portfolio started, feel free to contact me.
Jody W. Phelps, MSc, PMP®, MBA
JayWink Solutions, LLC
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