When it comes to acing an interview, there’s more to it than simply showing up. The meeting might get your foot in the door, but knowing both what to take and what to wear to an interview are essential for success. Follow along with our checklist to ensure you have everything you need to instill confidence and make a positive first impression.
What To Take To an Interview
Interviewers expect potential hires to be prepared. Creating an interview portfolio helps you anticipate what documents your future employer might ask to see. This folder should look professional and allow the manager to find what they’re looking for quickly. Below are a few other things to consider after asking “What should I bring to an interview?”
Multiple Copies of Your Resume
In some cases, an interviewer may request another copy of your resume during the meeting. Put extra copies of your finalized entry-level resume and cover letter in your interview folder to make sure you cover everything you need to. Also, consider printing off a second copy of the online job application in case you have additional questions regarding the form.
Pen and Paper
Taking notes during an interview is beneficial in a number of ways. First, it shows enthusiasm and dedication for the job, potentially impressing hiring managers. Also, there’s a lot to go over during a job interview, and no one can remember everything. Keeping a spare pen or pencil and a notebook in your portfolio guarantees you don’t miss any important information.
A Portfolio and Samples of Your Work
While most entry-level jobs do not require bringing a professional work portfolio to an interview, some managers may ask to see one. For fields such as photography, writing, and art, providing samples of your work during an interview highlights your strengths and can help you land the job.
Talking Points and Pre-written Questions For Your Interviewer
Studying common job interview questions and answers allows you to respond confidently to questions you’re most likely encounter. However, bringing a list of your own questions to the interview shows the employer how interested you are in the position.
Many questions are open-ended and invite you to elaborate in your own words. For applicants with no previous work history, answers can relate to their academic experiences, community services, or any other related topics. It is essential to tell the truth when answering an interviewer’s questions, as honesty is always the best policy.
A List of References or Letter of Reference
An effective list of references for your resume goes a long way to show potential employers your personal and professional contacts. These often include academic references such as teachers and coaches, as well as job-related contacts like supervisors and coworkers. Personal references are also sometimes required, especially for entry-level candidates with no previous work experience.
Like professional portfolios, entry-level jobs are unlikely to require a business card. However, these small additions can help you stand out from the crowd of other interviewees. A high-quality business card with pertinent information such as your name, phone number, email, and a personal touch can make you a more memorable choice.
Other Things To Consider Taking
Each interview is different, as is each interviewer, so it’s important to keep a few other items in mind when deciding what to take with you. Some helpful things to bring to an interview include:
- Breath mints – First impressions are extremely important, and an issue like bad breath can ruin what would otherwise be a pleasant conversation. While breath mints are fine, never chew gum during an interview as it can be a distraction and make a candidate appear unprofessional.
- Company directions and contact information – In the event of an emergency, or if you simply have trouble finding the location, always have a working number to reach the manager or business. If the company is in an unfamiliar part of town, use a GPS to help you navigate.
- Plans for parking – Know where to park ahead of time to avoid issues with traffic or parking meters. Also, remember to carry cash or change if necessary to ensure you aren’t late due to poor planning.
- Personal Identification – Most jobs require proof of identity in the form of a driver’s license, ID, or Social Security card. Keep these credentials safe and easily accessible so you can quickly supply them to the hiring manager.
- Water – Staying hydrated can keep your mouth from drying out, making it easier to speak clearly and confidently. Carry a bottle of water with you and take small sips as needed throughout the conversation. However, it is polite to ask permission to bring the water into the interview with you to avoid potential issues.
What Not To Bring To An Interview
Just as some things are essential for a successful interview, others are sure to create a problem. A few items to never take to an interview include:
- Cell phones with the ringer turned on – Nothing derails an interview like a ringing or vibrating cell phone. Most managers will not appreciate the interruption, so always remember to put your phone on silent before entering the building. Also, be sure to give the supervisor your full attention and never check your phone during an interview.
- Your parents – Many entry-level positions hire teenagers and young adults who rely on their parents for transportation. While it is fine for them to wait in the car until the interview is over, it is highly unprofessional for mom and dad to be present for the meeting.
- Heavy perfume or cologne – Looking presentable and smelling pleasant are essential for a successful interview, though wearing too much cologne or perfume can pose a problem. Strong, overpowering scents are distracting and can cause headaches, ruining an employer’s first impression of an applicant. In this case, it is always better to use too little than too much.
- A bad attitude – One of the most important qualities a manager looks for in an employee is positivity. Due to this, attending an interview with a sour mood is unlikely to land the potential hire a job. Even the most qualified person for the role could sabotage their chances with a poor attitude. A pleasant smile and cheerful attitude is always encouraged during an interview.