The job market isn’t what it used to be. Employers receive many qualified applicants, and sometimes getting to the interview stage feels like a job by itself.
Once you have landed that job interview, you know that it is your chance to make a great impression. What can you do to make yourself stand out? Do you know what to bring to an interview to be prepared?
How you present yourself and appear in an interview will make a huge impact on your potential employer. There are some things you can bring that will help you mentally and make the interview go smoothly.
What to Bring to An Interview
It may seem contrived to say “bring your A-game,” but that is exactly what you need to do. You are likely not aware of how many candidates are competing for the role. Some jobs have multiple rounds of interviews, and you need to be prepared for each one.
By preparing, you can focus more on the interview and feel less scattered. Have everything ready to bring to the interview so that you can focus on the interviewer’s questions.
While each interview is different, there are some things that universally common during the interview process. It never hurts to over-prepare and bring things to the interview that you may not end up needing.
The Basics: Who, What, Where
Have the hiring manager’s name and location interview with you. The last thing you want is to get lost and be rushing to the interview location. If you can find any information about the hiring manager ahead of time, it will show that you have taken an interest in the company.
Also, make sure to bring your identification to the interview. You may not be aware of the building’s security requirements.
The Items: Organized and Professional
Since you will be bringing several items with you, make sure that you have a briefcase, messenger bag, or a professional tote. A backpack is only appropriate for certain jobs. Do some research on the type of attire that is appropriate for an interview in that industry.
In your backpack, be sure to include the following.
Copies of Your Resume
While you have provided copies of your resume with your job application, you should bring your resume. You may not know how many people will be interviewing you, and you want to make sure that they all have copies in front of them. Keep a copy of your resume in front of you so you can refer to it.
If you can have your resume printed on high-quality paper, it will make you stand out from others. If you have business cards with your contact information, bring those as well.
Portfolio that Showcases Your Work
For careers in design, journalism, and other fields, bring copies of your work in a portfolio. As you talk about your experience, you can then show the interviewer’s examples of your results.
For industries that do not have any visual or shareable work, you can bring client testimonials. This will speak to your success in your particular field.
It isn’t a good idea to list references directly on your resume because it leaves room for the interviewer to contact your references before having the opportunity to speak with you in person. Instead, have your references listed on a separate piece of paper and bring those to the interview.
When the interview goes well, at the end you can provide the list of references to the interviewer. You should also follow-up with an email of your references. But by providing the references during the interview, you show that you are prepared and ready to go to the next stage of the interview process.
The Communication: Be Ready for Questions
The interview is about getting to know the interviewer and showing that you are a good fit for the role. How you present yourself and thoughtfully answer questions will determine if you move forward in the hiring process. You want to showcase your skills as well as your personality.
Pen and Paper
Have something with you where you can write things down. Something may occur to you during the interview process that you want to follow-up on later. It also shows that you are actively listening to questions and engaged.
Your notes can also help you send a personalized thank-you email later. Just don’t let your note-taking become a distraction. Ask the interviewer for permission before you start writing things down.
Answers to Common Questions
Interviews have a lot of typical questions. You should research both common and uncommon questions for your industry. That way, you are not caught off-guard and need to spend too much time thinking of a response.
Have your answers to these questions ready but not memorized. You will want to sound natural. Think of scenarios in your past experiences that showcase your strengths, ability to work as a team, and results that you have produced.
Questions to Ask
The interview will likely end with “Do you have any questions?” and this is your opportunity to keep the conversation going. You can also learn more about the company and ensure that it is a good fit for you.
Do some research about the company so that you can ask questions about the organization as a whole. Ask what the day-to-day experience is like for that particular role. Find out more about the team if you can.
You want to show that you have a genuine interest in the job. Remember, you are likely competing against many other qualified applicants. You want the interviewer to see you as a great asset to the company and team.
Follow-Up and Prepare for the Next Interview
After the interview has finished, immediately prepare a thank-you email to the interviewer. The more personalized you can make this communication, the better. At the end of the interview or in the follow-up, ask about the next steps.
Whether you land the job or not, interviews are always good practice. Being prepared with what to bring to an interview and the experience itself will help you for the next interview.