From my first teaching interview to my last one just a week ago, I’ve always had my portfolio right there with me. Each time, the interviewer has been very impressed and I’ve left the interviews with the feeling that it is not the norm to have a portfolio.
When you are interviewing in a pool of several other good candidates, you want a way to stand out – in an awesome way. A teaching portfolio can help you do just that.
#1 - Interviewers will be able to visualize you as part of their team.
Besides being able to pay your bills, I am guessing you want your teaching job to be a good fit for you. During your interview, you will want to make sure that you are showing the interviewer you are not just looking for a job but trying to find the best fit.
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in your portfolio. If you are a highly organized and mellow person, the colors and way you highlight your teaching should reflect this. For instance, I chose a few muted colors with a nice scripted font for my headings because I tend to be quieter.
If I was very outgoing, I might pick bright colors and a funky bold font. Remember they are making first impressions and your portfolio is helping to make that impression as well. Make it a good reflection of the type of person you are or the teacher you aspire to be.
#2 - It shows you are highly organized and prepared.
Not only will your portfolio show your potential new employer that you are organized, it will also show that you are well prepared for the interview. Imagine being asked a tricky question about classroom management. While you are painting a picture with your words, you can flip to that section in your portfolio and show concrete examples of your management style.
A good portfolio is created around the most common interview questions and lends itself to easily explaining any question they give you. Before I created my portfolio I spent time online and on Pinterest looking for examples others had made. What sections did they include? What were the commonalities?
I also based it off of my previous experience interviewing with a portfolio. Were there common sections that I just didn’t even use or showcase during my interviews? This time around I was updating my portfolio so I decided to make it more streamlined than it used to be and it still worked like a charm.
#3 - It speaks volumes about how much you want the job.
Imagine being one of five people to interview for the job. The last interview is most likely what will stick in their minds but if you bring along an awesome portfolio, it will really create a lasting impression no matter where you fall in the line of candidates being interviewed.
I think of my portfolio as my “wow factor.” How will you get the interviewer to remember you in a good way? Plus, the portfolio shows your potential boss that you cared enough about the position to do your research and showcase your work for them to see. You came to the interview prepared – much like you will be prepared for your class each day.
#4 - It will calm your nerves.
If you are someone that gets extremely nervous and tongue-tied during interviews, having a portfolio with you can give you some confidence in knowing that you won’t forget what you wanted to say. I’ve found that most interviewers are forgiving if you need a question repeated or time to reflect and compose your answer. They are people too.
Just the act of putting my portfolio together and researching the schools I am interviewing with helps to calm my nerves. I gain confidence in knowing that if I need to be reminded of certain points I wanted to make that it is written write there in my portfolio pages. I just need to quickly find the right section as I begin my answer. A few times in my last interview I didn’t even flip to the corresponding page as I answered because I already knew what I wanted to say.
#5 - It leaves you with a memorable first impression.
By this point I hope you are convinced that there is no reason to show up at an interview without a portfolio. Who wouldn’t want to stand out among the other candidates?
Think about the impression you want to leave. Would a portfolio enhance that? Would it give you a better chance at getting the job? Whether you are a seasoned teacher or out looking for your very first teaching position, I feel you really should take the time to put together a portfolio. Even if you don’t use it, it’s a great reflection tool and can help you thoughtfully answer those tough questions with ease during your interviews.
Preparing for a Teaching Interview (podcast episode 4)
Inside Look at My Teaching Portfolio (podcast episode 6)
The Teaching Interview and Beyond (podcast episode 5)
Let me know in the comments below if you have ever used a portfolio or are considering making one now to help with your job search. I would love to know your thoughts.