Prep for the Job You Want: What To Bring to an Interview

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. 

Interview graphic checklist: Copies of your resume and cover letter, your references, your portfolio or creative samples, questions for your interviewers, a notebook and pen, briefcase, bag, backpack, positive attitude

7 things 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. 


NO WORK EXPERIENCE? NO PROBLEM.

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. Questions for your interviewers

Remember that an interview isn’t just a chance for an employer to learn about you— it’s also an opportunity for you to find out more about the role and determine if the company is a good fit for you. Come prepared with questions to ask 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.

5. 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.

Photo via Unsplash

6. 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. 

7. A positive attitude

Putting your best foot forward always begins with your attitude going into the interview. During your interview, remember to:

  • Smile
  • 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. Do your research ahead of time.

Make sure that you do a little research on the company before you go in to interview. Not only will this show that you take initiative and care about the company and job, 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 (if it can be found on their website or with a quick Google search), their mission, and what products and/or services they offer.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 map 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.

5. 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 also good practice to be 10-15 minutes early; any earlier than that, and you may want to wait for a bit in your car or take a quick walk around the block.

Choosing the right employer with JobSage

At JobSage, we’re setting out to build an employer review site around things that matter most to jobseekers— inclusion, growth, purpose, feedback, flexibility, and compensation. We want to help you find the right employer by getting answers to the questions you care about. Join JobSage for guidance in your job search or to leave a review for your employer to create a more open, transparent conversation in and around the workplace.

Cover photo via Unsplash