You’ve applied to a job, received the callback and probably passed a phone screen. This means it’s time for the in-person interview. Take a moment to congratulate yourself at this stage — it’s taken a lot of hard work and persistence to get here. Once you’ve mentally prepared and chosen what you’re going to wear, the last step is making sure you’re bringing the right items.
What to bring to a job interview
- Copies of your resume
Bring at least five resume copies. Keep them in a separate folder or professional folio so they don’t bend or wrinkle and are easy to access.
- Pen and paper
Take notes on the questions your interviewers ask or surprising insights they share. You can use these notes to follow up later in a thank you email.
- Pre-written questions for your interviewers
When you are putting the resume copies and the blank paper in your folder or folio, also add at least two or three pre-written questions for your interviewers to have on hand. It’s good to write them down ahead of time in case your mind suddenly goes blank when you get the question, “Do you have any questions?”
- A list of references
Your interviewers may not ask you for a list of references, but it’s good to be prepared in case they do.
References should be people who can speak to your professional abilities and achievements. If you don’t have much work experience or can’t easily identify people to be your references, consider any groups or volunteer activities you’ve been a part of. Former teachers or community leaders who can address your commitment and work ethic are strong options as well. Do not include family members and avoid listing friends.
If you have time before your interview, get in touch with the people on your list. A call, email, or coffee date is a great opportunity to ask them what stood out about working with you in the past, what areas they see for improvement, and what advice they’d give to your next manager.
Print out five copies and keep them in a folder so they don’t bend. If you aren’t asked for your references during the interview, you can ask if they are needed at the very end.
- Breath mints or floss
Bring along something to help maintain great oral hygiene. Whether it’s mints, gum, floss or a toothbrush and toothpaste, choose the option that will make you feel clean and confident.
- A bag, briefcase or portfolio that neatly contains all your items
Once you have the things you need to bring to the interview, you should decide how you’ll organize and carry them. The goal is to look put together and unburdened. Choose a handbag, briefcase, messenger bag or portfolio that can hold everything and looks professional. Backpacks are appropriate for some settings but not for others. Use your best judgment based on the company research you’ve done and what you know about their culture.
- Directions on how to get to the interview
After all your careful preparation, don’t let a late arrival undermine your chances of getting the job. You should plan to arrive 10–15 minutes early, and you should study your route to the interview beforehand. If you’re using public transportation, add extra time to account for delays or unexpected interruptions. If you’re driving, be sure you have information about parking — if you’re working with a recruiter, you can ask them to provide these details.
If after all this preparation you are still running late, call the office or recruiter you are working with and let them know. More often than not they will be understanding, but it is important to be respectful of their time.