Preparing for a job interview isn’t just about practicing your answers in the mirror and making sure you look your best. It’s also about showing up with all the right things in hand.
Come into an interview empty-handed, and your interviewer might assume that you’re not organized or simply not seriously interested in the position. Start off on the right foot by bringing everything you need to make a great first impression.
What to bring to a job interview
Here are seven things you’ll want to make sure to bring to any job interview.
1. Copies of your resume and cover letter
You’ve probably already sent your resume and cover letter to the company you’re interviewing with, but it never hurts to bring a few extra copies with you. Some hiring managers and interviewers like to have a hard copy in front of them to refer to or take notes on.
Bringing these with you is also a great way to show off your preparedness and proactive nature. Everyone likes an employee that thinks ahead of time and takes steps to make the job a little easier.
Learn how to craft the perfect resume even when you lack job experience in our blog “How to Write a Resume with No Experience”.
2. Your references
Make sure to print off a few extra copies of your list of references as well. It’s best to provide these in a neat, organized document that lists your references’ names, contact information, and relationship to you.
3. Your portfolio or creative samples, if the job positions calls for it
If you’re applying for a job in a creative industry, the company may want to see samples of your previous work. For industries like fashion, journalism, graphic design, and photography, pick out some of your best pieces to bring with you. It’s also a good idea to compile these digitally on a website or slideshow to share if requested.
4. Knowledge about the company
Not only will researching the company show that you take initiative and care about the company, but it can help you cater your answers to what they are looking for in a candidate. Familiarize yourself with the job description, basic history of the company, their mission, and what products and/or services they offer.
Expert words of advice
It goes without saying that every job candidate should come to an interview prepared.
Showing you’ve taken the time to research the company before the interview demonstrates that you’re genuinely interested in the company and the job.
At a minimum, you should start by reading the company website’s “About Us” section and going through any official social media accounts like LinkedIn. Doing this will help you not only get a better grasp of their business, but also give you a better idea of the company’s mission, values, and company culture.
Before going in for your interview, use the information you’ve discovered to craft intelligent questions that show you understand the company’s business and how you could fit into their organization and company culture. This step is essential for two reasons: first, it helps you better prepare for the interviewer’s questions. And second, it helps you determine if this is the right job for you.
—Dominique Vatin, Career Expert and Staff Writer at Resume Genius
5. Questions for your interviewers
One of the best ways to determine if the company is a good fit for you is to ask questions during your interview.
Not sure what to ask? Here are a few general types of questions to get you thinking:
- Questions about the role: What will my day-to-day look like? What types of projects will I be working on? Will my responsibilities change over time?
- Questions about the company: What are the company’s major goals for the next year? Are there any plans for new products or expansion?
- Questions about job performance: What would the company expect to see me accomplish my first six months on the job? What is the feedback process like?
- Questions about company culture: What is the work environment like? What are the core values and how do you try to implement those in everyday work life?
Be sure that the questions that you ask aren’t easily answered by looking at the company’s website or the job description. Your questions shouldn’t make it seem like you haven’t done any research before coming in.
6. A notebook and pen to take notes
It’s a good idea to bring something that you can use to jot down notes during your interview. This notebook is also a good place to write down your questions so that you have everything in one convenient place.
7. A briefcase or bag
Don’t walk into your interview trying to juggle all of these items in your hand. That could lead to an embarrassing mishap! Bring a briefcase, portfolio, or professional backpack to tote your materials. Be sure to keep all of your resumes, cover letters, references, and creative samples nice ‘n crisp by stashing them in a folder.
8. A positive attitude
Putting your best foot forward always begins with your attitude going into the interview. During your interview, remember to:
- Engage with your interviewer with body language such as head nods and eye contact
- Sit up straight and demonstrate confidence in your body posture
You’ve prepared, and now it’s time to show off why you’re the right candidate for the job!
Other job interview tips to remember
Aside from what you pack in your bag, here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind before you head to your interview.
1. Dress for the role you want.
Dress appropriately for your interview. Even if the company culture is laid back and casual, don’t show up in flip flops and a t-shirt. Unless the industry you’re interviewing in wears business formal attire, business casual is usually a safe choice.
2. Don’t wait until you’re heading out the door to gather your things.
If you start gathering your things as you’re leaving, you’re bound to forget something. Sit down with our nifty checklist and pack your interview go-bag at least thirty minutes before heading out. Ideally, you will have already started prepping things like your portfolio and reference list much earlier than that.
3. Make sure you know how to get there before you leave the house.
Don’t be the person that’s twenty minutes late to their interview because they got lost. With today’s technology, you should be able to find your way to the interview with your phone or by looking up directions on a computer ahead of time. If you have any questions about finding the office, which building to go to, or the parking situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to the hiring manager ahead of time.
4. Give yourself plenty of time to get there.
Be sure to leave ample time for anything that may come up on your commute. If the office is fifteen minutes away and your interview is at 2:30, don’t leave right at 2:15. Allow a few extra minutes for traffic, making a wrong turn, walking to the office, etc.
It’s good practice to be 10-15 minutes early to your interview. However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t arrive any earlier than that. If you get there too early, wait for a bit in your car or take a quick walk around the block.
Choosing the right employer with JobSage
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