Interviewing for a job you really want is nerve-wracking, but adequate preparation can calm those nerves and help you focus on the important job of making a good impression on your new employer.
What do you bring to a job interview to help keep things calm and organized? We’ve put together a list of nine must-have items to bring to every job interview.
1. Several Paper Copies of Your Resume
The company you're applying to has probably already gotten a copy of your resume, and you might have already gone over the document in a phone conversation with a hiring manager. It's still a good idea to carry copies of your resume printed on high-quality paper.
There’s a chance your interviewer won't have a printout of your resume, and if nothing else, it just looks good that you anticipated that. A good rule of thumb to follow is to pack one resume for each person you expect to interview with, plus three more just in case others drop in on the interview.
2. A Written List of Questions
Most job interviews end with a brief section where you can ask questions about the company and the work culture. It's considered a good sign for a candidate to be interested in a company, and it's an even better sign if you've done research and thought of intelligent questions on your own. Don't be shy about writing these questions down to bring to a job interview. Doing so shows foresight and planning.
3. Pen and Paper
As you ask questions, you don't want to convey the impression you're not really listening or taking onboard the answers your interviewer is giving. By taking notes on a fresh legal pad, you can simultaneously convey interest in the details of your new job and ensure you don't forget the important things you're learning during the interview.
4. A Nice Attaché, Briefcase, or Tote
This can be an actual attaché case, a briefcase, or tote. The key is to have a nice-looking bag of some kind to hold the items you bring to a job interview. A handsome leather case can't help but look professional, and it's also a fantastic way to keep all the other things you bring to a job interview organized.
5. A List of References
If all goes well, your interview could end with a conditional offer of employment so your references are critical to bring to a job interview. One of those conditions could be that all your references check out. You want to make this part of the process as smooth and quick as possible, and having your references written down and ready to hand over can speed things up. Plus, you’ll get bonus points for being prepared.
6. Your Portfolio
If you're applying for any kind of creative work, such as copywriting or commercial design, your portfolio is a critical item to bring to a job interview. For creative roles, you're likely to need a portfolio of your past work to show the interviewer(s). Your past accomplishments nearly always speak louder than your carefully measured words, and nothing beats bringing samples of your past work to a job interview. If you have a physical portfolio, bring it with you. If not, have a URL handy so that an interview can review your work during the meeting.
It’s always a good idea to arrive a little early for a job interview. Try to spend those few minutes getting psychologically prepped for the meeting.
7. News Clippings About the Company
If the company you're applying to join is big, local, or old enough to have been in business for some years, there are probably some press notices of it floating around. If you can find these and read up on the company, you're better prepared to ask the knowledgeable questions that can make a difference during an interview. Bonus points if the article you've clipped is about something the company is prioritizing, such as its diversity policy, and you can cultivate a firm opinion about it.
8. A Positive Attitude
It's always a good idea to arrive a little early for a job interview. Try to spend those few minutes getting psychologically prepped for the meeting. Employers almost always want to see positivity and enthusiasm in a candidate, and how you're feeling about your chances can go a long way.
9. Notes from Previous Contacts
By the time of your interview, you've probably already had a few phone calls and email exchanges with your new employer. Most of these contacts were probably with the company's HR staff, but you may have had a few contacts with people in the specific division you're applying to join.
Keeping track of all those new people can get confusing, and it's worth the effort to keep a list of all the people you've talked with and what they said during your earlier contacts with the company. You can keep these notes on some 3 x 5 index cards with the name and company department written on top and a few key points from your conversation below, or keep a list in a notebook. Having these on you during the interview can help you refer back to things you've been told about; for example, salary and working hours, or a specific policy you want to ask about.