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Alternative terms: portfolio interview, portfolio assessment, criterion-focused interview

What is it?

A portfolio assessment is a testing format in which you demonstrate the competencies you possesses by means of a portfolio of evidence, such as professional products or reports of experiences. The assessment consists of:

  1. Evaluation of the portfolio by the assessors.
  2. An assessment interview with the assessors.
  3. Establishment of a substantiated judgement by the assessors
  4. Receipt of feedback.
    Assessors are examiners who have completed special training in the administration of portfolio assessments.

What is tested?

In short, portfolio assessments test whether you are capable of demonstrating professional conduct within typical and critical professional contexts, in accordance with the required behavioural standards and desired level. This is done by means of evidence that you provide in a portfolio.


Professional conduct requires you to gain a wide range of experience in the professional field by conducting relevant professional tasks/assignments and solving relevant professional problems. The required behaviour is documented in the assessment criteria. Evidence in the portfolio can include anything from professional products to reports of experiences and assessments by third parties.

The relevant professional tasks, questions/dilemmas and the assessment criteria are all borrowed from the programme profile applicable to your programme. The professional tasks are specific to a particular programme or profession. The criteria relate to HBO (higher professional education) qualifications and are generic. Examples of these include methodical working (applying knowledge, concepts and insights), investigative skills, effective communication, and learning/development skills. In order to gain insight into these criteria, assessors ask you to justify the approach taken and assess the complexity of your professional context. Questioning based on the criteria takes place during the assessment interview, which is also known as a criterion-focused interview.

How will I be tested?

Evaluation of the portfolio: one precondition being that the portfolio must be complete. Prior to the interview, assessors check whether the evidence in the portfolio proves sufficient variety, relevance, authenticity and significance to modern professional practice. They will also determine whether the content of the portfolio provides enough discussion points for an assessment interview. The quality of the evidence provided is central to this process. Generally, the assessors use the VRAAK criteria (the criteria of variation, relevance, authenticity, topicality and quality) to evaluate the portfolio.

How will I be assessed?

All of the information obtained by the assessors is sourced from the portfolio and the interview. For each professional task/dilemma, the assessors will examine this information and establish whether you have conducted yourself in compliance with the required criteria. They will substantiate their assessment with findings from the portfolio and the assessment interview, record the assessment on the assessment form and submit it to you, together with feedback.

The assessors will evaluate your performance based on the following assessment categories: fully displayed, displayed, not displayed, unsatisfactory, satisfactory/good and excellent. As the registration system requires numerical scores, the assessors often collectively convert the above categories into a score.

What feedback will I receive?

For each competency, you will receive feedback about your degree of development. This feedback is provided in terms of the displayed and the required behaviour.

Example: You have conducted market research and carried out all of the required activities (a core task in the programme profile). However, you were unable to show to a sufficient degree that you approached the activity in a methodical manner (an assessment criterion). By means of their findings from the portfolio and the interview, the assessors explain what the student's methodical approach is lacking.

How do I prepare for the test?

An important means of preparation is to gain experience in the professional field. For example, via internships, work placements etc. conducted during the degree programme.

Furthermore, student career advisers and internship supervisors play an active role in your preparation for portfolio assessments. They give guidance on formulating the educational objectives for the practical tasks that you will conduct. These educational objectives are based on the assessment criteria (approach and required behaviour) applicable to the assessment. By asking critical questions and providing interim feedback, the advisor/supervisor stimulates you to push your practical performance to a higher level and hence generate better-quality evidence for your portfolio.

Tips for compiling a portfolio:

  • Attend the informative meeting which addresses the layout, structure and content of the portfolio. Ask for examples of good-quality and lesser-quality portfolios.
  • • Ask for explanation regarding reflection on the evidence: what does the programme expect of you? Assessors need this information to enable adequate interpretation of the evidence. A useful tool for this purpose is the STARR questions (see example STARR form). Based on this, you can present the evidence in a way that clearly displays the concrete contributions made and approaches adopted.
  • Exchange ideas about what items of evidence are suitable for the portfolio and give feedback on your fellow students' draft portfolios. If necessary, ask the programme to organise and supervise such sessions.

How can I achieve the highest score possible?

  • First, carefully examine what is expected of you
  • Gather extremely targeted evidence material.
  • Carefully consider what has truly made a contribution to the development of your competencies.
  • Order and structure the material into a conveniently arranged and cohesive whole.
  • Bear in mind why you are doing this and for whom.
  • Keep it limited in size: write clear and concise texts.
  • Good content also requires a good layout.
  • Compare your portfolio with others, but remain true to yourself.
  • It's okay – and perfectly justified – to be proud of yourself.


Your portfolio shouldn't remain a secret between you and your programme: you can use it on a number of occasions, such as job interviews. It can help give future employers a very interesting snapshot of what you are good at, what you can do, and what you have done already

A key requirement for a portfolio is that you clearly and effectively reflect what you have achieved. It is therefore very important that the layout and structure are effective. Nobody wants to fight their way through a lumbering 100-page dossier or get lost in a poorly structured website. Make sure everything is described in a clear and concise manner.

Carefully examine the way the content of your portfolio is arranged.

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