If you’ve been doing research on what to bring to your next interview, you’ve probably come across articles that tell you to bring your smile and positive attitude. While those are essential for a job interview, we’ve compiled a checklist of physical items you’ll need. And try not to wait until the night before to gather all of these up, because some take time to prepare. (If you’re on the job hunt, have these at the ready before you’re asked for an in-person interview – that way you’re not scrambling.)
Briefcase (or folder)
You need something to hold everything I’m about to tell you to bring. It’s better to have a designated interview “satchel” than fumbling through personal items mixed into your purse or shoving your pockets full of job interview items. In your folder, have several printed copies of references. Three professional references is ideal, and make sure everyone on the list is aware that they may be contacted. The interviewer may not ask you for these, but it should be part of your interview preparation. Include name, phone number, email address, professional relationship and current role.
Notebook and Pen
Ask the interviewer if they mind you take notes (they won’t). But be sure to take them sparingly. Be an active listener as it’ll prepare you to ask better questions. In this notebook, you should already have some questions jotted down that you are planning to ask the hiring manager. Don’t think you’ll be able to recall them when it comes down to it. If the hiring manager asks you to follow up with any additional information, be sure to write that down too. Detailed instructions can get muddy when you’re nervous.
It’s unlikely you’ll need your identification but it’s better to have than be caught off guard. As our world becomes more security focused, you may need to get a temporary badge to have access to the building or get photographed for record of your access. In these cases, they’ll want to see your identification to ensure you are who you’re saying you are.
Sure, everything is digital, and your interviewer probably has your resume on their screen as you’re talking. But, bring a few copies just in case. You never know when the hiring manager might pull another team member in to meet you and you’ll need to provide a copy.
While this isn’t relevant for every position, if you’re in a creative role or technology role, you’ll certainly want to have a portfolio. A copywriter, graphic designer, website designer, computer programmer or interior designer, for example, all require examples of your work to determine your capabilities. Even if you’ve sent them through electronically, prior to the interview, bring some examples into the office to share with the interviewers.
You probably don’t leave the house without it. But you should type in the address of the interview in your favorite navigation program (even if you know where you’re going and have been there a million times) BEFORE you head out, because you’ll get the latest traffic information. What if your usual route contains an accident that’s tying up traffic for an hour? It’ll make you late! But don’t forget to silence your phone (forget vibrate) before you head into the office. It wouldn’t look good buzzing during your conversation with the hiring manager.
Many times, interviewers will ask if you want water or provide it on the table in the conference room. If they do, accept the offer graciously – even if you’re not thirsty. It’s better to have in front of you than ask later because your mouth is dry. In the occasion it’s not offered, have a bottle in your briefcase or purse. You won’t know where the water fountain is in the office and it’s a good idea to have access if you get a tickle in your throat.
This might seem weird but throw mints in your briefcase if you become self-conscious about what you had for lunch. Don’t go into the interview room swishing it around in your mouth, but you can pop it in on your way up in the elevator. Avoid gum as that can be distracting if you forget to throw it away before you enter the interview room.
This one I’ll call a “pro tip.” If you have business cards, bring them. And if you don’t, think about ordering some reasonably priced ones from a site like Vistaprint. It makes you look polished and professional. They can double when you’re out networking too. Handing it over at the end of the interview or attaching to your resume or other leave-behinds will remind you to ask the interviewers for their cards too. This is the best way to gather any information you need to follow up about the job interview and (hopefully) next steps in the process.