How YOU can control the interview!

What do you do when you’re asked an awkward interview question? We’ve all been there! It can totally cause us to um, er , what was I saying? Oh right! …lose our train of thought. That being said, it is up to you as to whether you want to continue with the interview. If you do, here are a few strategies that can help you take control of the interview process when things go off the rails!

Firstly, always prepare for the “unstructured” interview, interviewer and process. You can do this by preparing for your interview just as you would if you were on your first sales call pitching a new product to a new prospect…you ultimately control the sales call.

Continuing along these lines, you should arm yourself with documentation; resume, work samples, portfolio’s etc. At the beginning, these items can be put on the table in front of the interviewer. This powerful “tool” will allow you to drive the questions towards ones that really highlight your skills and steer things away when things get tricky.

How do you do this? 

  1. Refer the interviewer to a section or page of the document for further explanation or confirmation of something you’ve said.
  2. It also has the additional benefit of showing the interviewer that you’re prepared and organized.
  3. Additionally, by having a “safety net,” you will feel more confident.
  4. Always be prepared with extra questions just in case

When the interview starts to go into a “no go zone” halt it by asking permission to ask a question or give feedback to get things back on track. This is a powerful “behavior interrupter” By having them talk, it shifts the focus. Contrary to popular opinion you don’t have to wait for the traditional “Do you have any questions for me?” portion of the interview at the end. Most interviewers encourage a two-way dialogue and reciprocal fact-finding, so it’s not unusual to ask questions throughout the process.



Portfolios & Why You Need One

I used to think portfolios were for Designers, Photographers, Artists, and Models. When I heard the word portfolio, I would think of a large, professional binder that held pictures or diagrams. Believing that this was the only purpose of a portfolio, I never made one.

I always had a résumé but never a portfolio. With the job market being fairly competitive, I now know how important it is to have a portfolio. A portfolio is a usually a zipped binder that holds a collection of documents which includes diplomas, certificates, awards, and reference letters. Articles you have written, drawings, and hardcopies of documents you have created or formatted such as class assignments, presentations, and essays are also valuable. A photo of you in action is priceless.

Having a portfolio in addition to a résumé demonstrates professionalism on the part of the candidate. Taking the time to create and submit a portfolio signals to employers a serious attitude about work, and a willingness to make an investment in the application process.

While a résumé lists experience, a portfolio demonstrates it. Potential employers will see exactly what you’ve done and get a complete picture of your talent and abilities. A strong portfolio can make up for a weak résumé.

Portfolios help employers separate candidates. When many candidates have similar educational backgrounds and qualifications on paper, a portfolio can be a deciding factor for some employers.

A portfolio also shows prospective employers your ability to present ideas in an organized fashion. A portfolio demonstrates that you have organizational skills. Assembling your portfolio prepares you for potential interviews.

Completing a portfolio can renew self-confidence and increase feelings of accomplishment.

I can say this because I just completed my first portfolio!

Laurie Carter is a Continuing Education Student currently studying within the Workplace Leadership portfolioCertificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACES offers a comprehensive Employment Advisement program for our students. For more information about Employment Advisement, please visit the MCACES website, or contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at

Married to your Portfolio but headed for a Divorce

portfolioNo one said it was going to be easy to maintain a positive relationship with your portfolio. At the beginning you were excited to take on the challenge, you wanted to discover new things,  build a relationship, figure out how it would all come together, uncover the past and plan for the future. But what happened? After spending so much time at the beginning and once the challenge seemed to be over you forgot all about it. You don’t spend time with it anymore, you ignore the fact that it needs attention, you lost interest in it because you are content with what you have,  you keep putting it off for another day and make promises that you don’t keep. Doesn’t this sound like a marriage gone bad?!?

When you need your portfolio again it isn’t going to be there for you and to help you through your next step on your career ladder. Now doesn’t that job come up that you have always been waiting for and there is a quick deadline to fill the position and complete the process. Now you are scrambling to get your portfolio up to date and time is running out!  So much to do to prepare and where do you start.

Portfolio Tips:

Review your portfolio a minimum of three times a year. Best practice would be every three months. When you complete a project, training session, education, participate in a community event, join a new committee, volunteered, achieve an award or have made many accomplishments, this is when you need to make changes/additions to your portfolio. It will help you keep your resume up to date, revisit your goals and objectives and reflect on your career ladder of success.

Career Consultant Students Melanie Graham (left) with Renee Morley and CE Student Cathryn Smart

Review each step on your ladder and what you have accomplished to reach the top. How are you maintaining this and where are you going next? Give your portfolio the attention it needs and it will always be there when you need it. It is the perfect tool to use for performance appraisal time and now that you are keeping it up to date you will have so much to talk about and share with your employer.

Melanie Graham is a Continuing Education Student currently studying within the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACES offers a comprehensive Employment Advisement program for our students. For more information about Employment Advisement, please visit the MCACES website, or contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at