Ryan Kahn’s

Portfolio — Cheat Sheet

You have your cover letter and your resume down. But you’re not done yet. When you walk into that interview, you’d better be prepared with the right equipment. Having a proper portfolio to accompany you to your interview is the final touch you need to make the right impression—and land the job.

Step 1: The Presentation

You already know, first impressions are everything, and your portfolio is no exception. Find a respectable padfolio that you wouldn’t be embarrassed holding in front of the President—or a CEO. Make sure it’s big enough to hold all your materials comfortably and stylishly. You don’t have to spend a fortune on a fancy leather padfolio, but a manila folder just won’t do it.

Step 2: Your Resume

Obviously, you need to bring a few copies of your resume to your interview. But simply printing them out covertly on your current employer’s printer—or your struggling laser printer at home—won’t cut it. Impressions matter, and if someone asks you for a copy of your resume, this is how you should prepare.

  • The paper – Don’t cheap out if you can help it. Your resume doesn’t need to be on fine linen paper, but if you can avoid the recycled office paper, it will help set you apart from the masses.
  • The copies – Count how many people you’ll be interviewing with, and add five. Just in case. You never know when things go so well they want you to meet the entire team.

Step 3: Your Work

This is what a portfolio is really about, after all. Keep a few printable examples of your best work in your padfolio, and be ready to explain each of them.

  • Use your colors – If at all possible print your work in color. It shows the full character of your accomplishment so don’t be afraid to show it off.
  • Keep it neat – These pieces of paper are the expression of your talent, so treat them with respect. Keep your work tidy and neat. Be ready to present each sample or presentation as if it’s a work of art.

Step 4: Your Info

You never know how things will go with an interview. Just like any other situation in life, you want to be prepared for the best-case scenario.

  • Who are you? – It goes without saying you should always have your proper identification with you for an in person interview. It’s not something you should expect, but you don’t want to be unprepared if the occasion arises that an employer wants to hire you on the spot, or fill out an official application that requires your driver’s license or passport number.
  • Where do you live? – It probably seems like a ridiculous question, but if you’ve lived in more than one place in the past 10 years, an employer will likely want to know that history for a background check. Be ready with the addresses of everywhere you’ve lived in the past 10 years—including your college dorm and your parent’s house, if applicable.

Step 5: Your Tools

You can’t very well attend an interview without a pen and notebook.

  • Bring a pen — Even a backup pen or pencil is not a bad idea, just in case.
  • Bring a notebook — A clean one. One that doesn’t have stickers or torn edges or coffee stains.

Step 6: Just Don’t

There are some things you just shouldn’t bring to an interview. Seriously, don’t.

  • Clutter – Keep your person and your surroundings clean and clutter free. Period.
  • Food and drinks – If you’re interviewing at the right place, they’ll offer you a beverage. If they don’t, go through with the interview—it’s good practice at a minimum—then grab something to drink afterward. Regardless, don’t bring a drink with you to an interview. That includes coffee, a water bottle, or Kombucha.
  • Gum – You don’t want to be chewing during the interview or looking for a trash can; if you’re worried about your breath use a mint.
  • Your phone – No, I’m not suggesting you leave your phone at home. But make sure to turn it off or on silent (not vibrate mode). Your attention needs to be focused on the interview.