Documents and visual materials in interviews

Every so often you have to bring specific materials to an interview. In many cases, however, you'll bring additional materials you think will help show your skills and achievements.

Documentation is quite common in jobs where you naturally bring your portfolio. It can also apply to a wide range of positions where some visual material can make a real difference, even office jobs. A folder full of certificates does look good, and it's a way of proving your skills beyond doubt.

This is another kind of information quality, and it's also a performance-related move in terms of your interview.

Visual materials are used for effect, and to enhance your interview. You don't need to be told to be fussy about what materials you use. But you need to know how to use these materials effectively at an interview.

Extra material, if it hasn't been specifically requested, comes under the same broad category as details. It's a matter of time and space, and whether the materials are appropriate for the questions. The opportunity for using visual resources is either there in the questions, or you have to fit it in.

There are a few ways of creating an opportunity for yourself:

  1. Tell the interviewer, before you start, or even before the interview, that you have some materials you'd like to show the panel. Again, you make the point that you're aware of the panel's need to work to a schedule, and you're being courteous. The worst that can happen is a negative response, meaning you can at least save yourself the extra effort.
  2. When you get to the final question, Anything you'd like to add to make your claim for the job? you can produce your additional material. This period will be relatively brief, so you need select and use your materials effectively, and make your points concise.

Using visual materials and documentation isn't all that difficult, but it has to be efficient, not waste time, and enhance your interview performance.

You structure your presentation the same way as your answers.

To use visual materials effectively, they have to relate to questions, or information you've either given or are in the process of giving.

The problem solving question, for example, can be demonstrated by a copy of an email from the boss or the client thanking you for your work, a professional magazine which gives you credit for your methods, etc.

The team question can be greatly enhanced by some sort of branch newsletter or other team effort where your role, and the nature of the team, is clarified.

There's literally almost no limit to the uses of extra materials, but again, relevance is the key. This is an actual presentation, as much as an interview, and it has to be done properly.

The fundamentals are simple:

Don't give a speech with each piece of material. One sentence, or a couple at most, will do:

This is ., (in relation to which question).
That's ., (the subject of my answer to your question about )

This takes seconds, not vital minutes which the interview panel may not have.

The big advantage of these added materials is that there's no possibility of the interviewers failing to get the extra information.