Congratulations, you have been selected to be interviewed! You are now one step closer to getting a job offer.
You want to be well-prepared for your job interview because this is your chance to show the employer that you are an ideal candidate for the position. Your look, attitude, and responses to questions are critical in determining whether you will be hired or not.
The issue now is to figure out what to bring to an interview (aside from your abundant charm and appealing grin). With these essentials on hand, you can feel less stressed and more confident.
The Job Interview Process
To begin, let’s go over what an interview process looks like. By understanding the process, your interview will be more successful.
The purpose of a job interview is to examine what kinds of skills and talents you have so that companies can make the best hiring selection.
You want to make a good impression no matter who you meet. Your first encounter is typically with a recruiting manager or another human resources person. Their goal is to screen applicants and narrow down the number of qualified candidates for the next stage.
What format will your interview be? There are several types of interviews, such as telephone interviews, panel interviews, and group interviews. Each requires a slightly different approach. For example, you will prepare differently for a video job interview than you would for a face-to-face one.
Sometimes you might have to complete other written tests to see if you are qualified or not. Being asked to do an interview assignment or project will impact how to prepare and what you bring to the interview. For example, if you give a presentation during your job interview, you will want digital and printed copies.
What to Bring to an Interview: Job Interview Checklist
Interviewing for a job can be stressful. Showing up prepared helps reduce your nerves and shows interviewers that you are genuinely interested in the role.
For video job interviews, you won’t physically bring anything with you. However, you will want to have most of the following checklist items in front of you, or readily available to share digitally.
Follow this checklist if you don’t know what to bring to your job interview.
1. Copies of Your Resume
One of the most important things to bring to a job interview is extra copies of your resume.
People don’t often think to bring extra copies because they assume the employer already has one. While they should, you don’t know who you are meeting, so it is best to have extra to hand out.
When meeting the interviewer, they may not have your resume printed out. If you have extra, this will show them that you anticipated it and are ready. A decent rule of thumb is to bring one resume for each person you intend to interview with.
It is always better to be prepared than to be sorry later.
As a bonus, having a copy of your resume gives you something to look over while you wait and something to refer to and refresh your memory during the interview.
2. Pen and Paper
Don’t forget some paper and a pen (or two). You may need to jot down contact information or anything important mentioned in the interview process. It’s a surefire way to make you look proactive and thoughtful and is more professional than pulling out your cell phone to take notes.
You also don’t want to give the interviewer the impression that you are not listening. The interviewer will know you are interested in the job by taking notes.
3. List of Questions to Ask
Most job interviews end with you asking questions about the business or its culture. You want to show your excitement and interest by asking great questions.
Research the company so that you can ask meaningful questions. Don’t be afraid to jot down these questions and bring them with you to your job interview. By doing so, the interviewer will see how well-prepared you are.
Practice asking your questions before your interview so that you don’t sound hesitant or overly rehearsed.
4. Briefcase or Folders
It is unprofessional to bring your resume in your hand or have it stuffed in your purse or pocket for an interview. Having something to hold and organize your documents will show you are well-prepared. You don’t necessarily have to bring a briefcase with you. Something as simple as a file folder or large envelope will work.
If you are in an IT or any technology field or will be giving a presentation, you may need to bring a laptop to show your work and skills. Of course, you aren’t going to carry a laptop by itself. You need to have a professional-looking carry bag to protect it.
5. Business Cards
Although business cards aren’t as popular as they once were, they are great to bring when networking or interviewing. Your card can be simple with just your name, phone number, and email. It doesn’t need to look flashy. Something nice and simple where the interviewer can read it is sufficient.
Usually, after your interview, you can exchange business cards with the interviewer. You may also want to give your card to the others on your interview panel.
6. Reference Letter
When it comes to interview preparation tips, having a reference letter is a must.
Having people write reference letters for you can help you tremendously because they can verify your skills, responsibilities, personal character, and past performance.
If everything goes well, you can hand the interviewer a reference letter to show your credibility and accomplishments. Offering other people’s perspectives can help the interviewer see what kind of person you are.
At a minimum, put together a reference list to bring with you so that a hiring manager can contact them if they are interested in hiring you.
7. Your Portfolio
If you are in a creative field, you want to showcase your work. Your portfolio plays a huge role in the interview process. By showing the interviewer your abilities and unique skills through your portfolio, you’ll stand out from the other candidates and be closer to landing the job.
Your portfolio can speak volumes to your interviewer. Whether it is a digital copy or a physical copy, you should always bring both. That way, if you have technical problems, you can use your physical copy as a backup. If you don’t have your portfolio with you, you miss an excellent opportunity to show off your remarkable skills.
8. Breath Fresheners
You never know how handy having breath mints can be. You don’t want garlic breath during the interview, which will destroy your first impression. It is one of the most common mistakes applicants make, and it can appear unprofessional. Bringing mints or gum can make you feel more confident.
However, chewing gum or eating a mint during the interview is a big no! Be sure to spit out your gum or finish your mint well before the interview begins.
9. Water Bottle
Some people may think that bringing a water bottle is a hassle, but you don’t want to start coughing or have a dry mouth, do you?
If you have a long day of multiple interviews back to back or are giving a presentation, you want to stay hydrated and energized.
Ideally, your water bottle should be kept in your bag or somewhere out of sight when you’re not using it.
An interview can be nerve-wracking to the point where you’ll start to sweat. For that reason, you should bring deodorant or something that can eliminate your body odor, just in case. Keep it in your bag or car, and only use it before the interview.
The first impression you make is important. You don’t want to walk into an interview where you’ll be spreading body odor to everyone, do you?
11. A Silent Phone
These days everyone always has their phone on them. Before the interview starts, you want to turn off or put your phone on silent mode.
During your interview time, you want to show respect to the interviewers. If your phone goes off during an interview, it can be very distracting and cause problems.
12. Your Best Self
It is up to you how well you want this interview to be. Employers look at you as a person. Who are you, why are you unique, and most importantly, why should you be hired?
You want to showcase your integrity, honesty, and enthusiasm. It is your time to shine, so be ready and show up to the interview as if you were a celebrity on the red carpet.
Dress in your best professional outfit that gives you confidence. Always smile and stand or sit up straight.
Answer their interview questions to the best of your abilities. Turn the interview into an interactive conversation that flows naturally. Make the interview something you both enjoy and learn from.
6 Things to Avoid in the Interview Process
Now that you know what to bring to an interview, it’s time to mention some things to avoid during the interview process.
1. Being Late
Unless there is an emergency, you don’t want to run late. Being late will most likely disqualify you. Before your interview day, you should plan your transportation, interview outfit, and so forth.
The first impression is always the most important one, so you want to make sure you are about 15 minutes early.
If it is a virtual interview, check that your internet is working and your laptop doesn’t have problems. We all know that unforeseen technical issues can happen, so you must be prepared beforehand.
2. Poor Body Language
Slouching and getting distracted will only put you at a disadvantage. You want to maintain good eye contact, proper posture, and a cheerful attitude.
If you keep showing poor body language, the interviewer will think you are not interested in the job.
3. Lying on your Resume or CV
You should never lie on your resume or during an interview just to make up for the lack of experience. You’ll only hurt yourself if you do.
The chances are that someone will eventually find out that you lied. That can either get you disqualified from the hiring process or fired.
You want to get a job based on your abilities and not because of a shortcut. Being honest from the beginning is the ethical thing to do.
4. Perfume or Cologne
Although it’s not great to have body odor, you don’t want to use too much perfume or cologne, either. It is recommended not to use any, as many companies have scent-free policies because of allergies.
If using perfume or cologne makes you feel confident, only use 1 to 2 sprays. You should also choose a light fragrance that won’t make one feel nauseous or cause discomfort.
It’s good to talk and ask questions, but don’t ramble on about unnecessary things. When the interviewer asks a question, think about it for a few seconds before responding. Your answer should be focused and to the point.
There are usually many questions asked in an interview, so you want to respond effectively and not take 10 minutes to answer.
6. Getting Personal
Be friendly but avoid being too casual during an interview. Many job seekers think they can “win” by being friends with the interviewer, but you are not friends.
You have to remember that your interviewer may become your manager if you get the job. You want to behave kindly, respectfully, and professionally.
It’s difficult to know if you nail the interview or not, but with this list of interview tips and tricks, you can have peace of mind that you did your best.
As long as you put in the work and effort, you have a better chance of getting selected than those who are not prepared. Believe in yourself and have confidence.
You will surely be successful by knowing what to bring to an interview and what not to.
Amanda Kay, an Employment Specialist and founder of My Life, I Guess, strives to keep the "person" in personal finance by writing about money, mistakes, and making a living. She focuses on what it’s like being in debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and surviving unemployment while also offering advice and support for others in similar situations - including a FREE library of career & job search resources.