Interviews can be nerve-racking for even the most seasoned industry professionals. After spending hours preparing for this opportunity, you don’t want to create additional stress by forgetting to bring a copy of your resume or a reference document you printed out the night before. To prevent this unfortunate situation, you’ll want to organize beforehand, so you have all the necessary materials readily available when you arrive for the interview. Throughout this guide, we’ll provide tips on what to bring with you to an interview and how to prepare yourself mentally to secure your next big job opportunity.
Print Out Multiple Copies of Your Resume
Although it’s likely that the hiring manager already has a copy, it doesn’t hurt to bring them with you when you arrive at the company’s office. You may also want to consider printing your document on high-quality paper and laminating it to provide an extra touch of professionalism. This can also come in handy if you are in an interview with multiple managers at the same time, as they’ll all have access to your accomplishments and qualifications.
Bring Your References
While this isn’t a requirement, gathering your references beforehand might be a good idea, and bringing the document with you to the interview. This shows that you’ve come prepared and that you already have colleagues and former managers willing to vouch for you. The hiring manager won’t expect you to provide this during the initial interview, but having it ready ahead of time might help foster a positive image of you as a candidate.
Organize Your Documents in a Folder
The last thing you want to do during an interview is search through your briefcase looking for loose documents. Before you leave for the interview, organize each document you plan to bring and order them in terms of priority. You’ll likely want to have your copies of the resume at the front of the folder, as this will be the most important thing to bring with you to the interview.
Bring a Pen and Paper
It’s a good idea to bring a pen and notepad with you to the interview so you can jot down action items, questions, and thoughts during the interview. This will show hiring managers that you’re attentive and engaged, which will help you make a strong impression on prospective employers. Make sure you don’t overdo it while taking notes, as you want to ensure that you’re maintaining eye contact with the interviewer most of the time.
Bring a List of Talking Points
Bringing a list of talking points to the interview can help you feel more comfortable and prepared when you step into the interview. You have many accomplishments to discuss from your career, but narrowing them down can help you keep your responses more thoughtful and focused.. You won’t project confidence if you’re reading through your entire resume during the interview trying to come up with conversation topics. When building your list of talking points, try to identify career achievements that are most relevant to the job description.
Bring a Bottle of Water
The last thing you want during your interview is to find yourself with a dry throat while explaining your qualifications and career background. Hydration is also essential for maintaining high energy levels and maximizing brain performance. Although there’s a chance you may be offered refreshments when you arrive at the office, it’s much better to come prepared and drink a healthy amount of water before the interview to keep yourself energized and focused.
Bring a Professional Wardrobe
First impressions are everything during an interview. You don’t want to compromise your chances of receiving a job offer by dressing casually. This will signal to the hiring managers that you aren’t invested enough in the opportunity to go the extra mile by arriving in business attire. That being said, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you wear a suit and tie to an interview with a start-up tech company in Silicon Valley that has a more casual office atmosphere, the hiring manager may wonder if you’re the right fit for their team. Ultimately, it’s better to overdress than underdress for an interview, but you should make an effort to tailor your outfit choice to the organization’s culture whenever possible.
Bring a Separate Document Featuring Awards, Patents, and Publications
It can be difficult to fit every career achievement into your resume without creating a long-winded document that crosses the two-page threshold. Sometimes you need to make hard cuts to trim your resume to an acceptable length. If the content is compelling but needs to be removed due to space constraints, you can separate a one-page document highlighting awards, patents, conferences, or publications. Bringing this document to the interview will provide the hiring manager with more qualifications to review and may help invite more questions and conversations on your past achievements.
Bring a Copy of Your Professional Portfolio
You may want to bring your project portfolio to the interview when applying for certain types of job opportunities. For example, if you were applying for a graphic design position, you might want to print out high-quality images of websites, logos, and marketing materials you created. If you’re a construction professional specializing in home renovation, you may want to bring a collection of photographs showcasing before and after images for key remodeling projects. Although you’ve likely already provided a link to your portfolio during the initial application phase, having access to the images during the interview can reinforce your credentials and allow you an opportunity to provide insights into your creative process.
Practice Your Responses to Interview Questions
You want the interview to be a fluid, organic conversation that allows you to connect with the hiring manager and organization. If you lack confidence due to a lack of preparation, you may stumble when you need to answer a question you haven’t thought about. This is why practicing your responses to sample interview questions beforehand with a career coach, colleague, or even a family member is important. That said, you want to ensure that your responses don’t come off like you’re reciting a speech you’ve spent hours rehearsing. Practice is important, but you don’t want to overthink every answer, as you want the conversation with the hiring manager to feel natural and fluid.