What to Bring to an Interview What Things to Bring to an Interview What Documents to Bring to an Interview What Not to Bring to an Interview How Early Should You Be for an Interview Wrap up
What to Bring to an Interview What Things to Bring to an Interview What Documents to Bring to an Interview What Not to Bring to an Interview How Early Should You Be for an Interview Wrap up
Updated 05/08/2020

What to Bring to an Interview

Intend to come to the interview empty-handed? Do not make a bad mistake! We have compiled a helpful checklist with critical items. Follow it and be ahead of the game.

Intend to come to the interview empty-handed? Do not make a bad mistake! We have compiled a helpful checklist with critical items. Follow it and be ahead of the game.

An interview invitation is your first victory in the selection process, as it proves that your job application aroused the interest of the potential employer. At this point, you have an equal chance of strengthening or ruining the initial positive impression of your candidacy. The outcome depends not only on your qualifications but also on how well prepared you are for a meeting with the recruiter. To cope with the latter, follow our checklist of the most important items and documents that can gain you points during the interview.


What Things to Bring to an Interview

Your "What to take to an interview" list is a confirmation of your attention to detail. The goal of each item is to minimize the risk of an embarrassing situation and eliminate all obstacles to a successful self-presentation. Given that the interviewer will conduct a comprehensive assessment of you, as a candidate, taking into account all the necessary information as part of the decision-making process, foresight will play into your hands.

What should I bring to an interview?

  1. Photo ID. It’s hard to nail an interview if you don’t even get there. Almost every company has a security system that checks the identity of visitors of the facility. If you do not have an identity document, the guard will have to disturb the recruiter or even ask them to meet you at the entrance personally. Such time-wasting is not the best start for a self-presentation.
  2. Bottle of water. The interview involves constant talking, whether it is an active dialogue with a recruiter or a description of your professional advantages. Even if you thought over each speech component in advance, you are not immune to dry mouth as a result of prolonged communication. Such discomfort will affect your confidence. Sure, you can ask the interviewer for water, but this is another waste of time and an inconvenience to the recruiter, which does not give you credit. Bring a reusable bottle instead of a plastic one to earn some extra points as a person who cares about the planet.
  3. Pen and notebook. An interview is a great chance to clarify your questions about the desired position, career prospects, main requirements, and so on. To keep in mind the critical details of future cooperation, take notes during the interview. Later, they can serve as the basis for your decision. Besides, by recording valuable insights, you demonstrate your attentiveness and responsibility that is always welcomed by any employer.
  4. Breath freshener and toothpicks. If your appointment is in the afternoon, it is not a reason to starve yourself. Instead, use oral hygiene products so that the consequences of your snack or lunch do not ruin your reputation from the first minutes of the meeting. Rest assured, the best option of what to do before an interview is to tidy yourself.
  5. Spare tights or shirts. It is challenging to take a person with a ketchup stain or a hole in their clothes seriously, especially when it comes to a business meeting. Nevertheless, even a neat specialist is not immune to such incidents in crowded places. A spare outfit to change into, in these cases, will help you protect your image and not distract the interlocutor's attention to unwanted details.

What Documents to Bring to an Interview

The success of your self-presentation is half dependent on your oratory skills. But the second half belongs rightfully to the papers that prove and strengthen every statement. The following documents are critical components of your professional portrait and, thus, are "must-haves" for every interview.

  1. Resume. Even if you sent this document by mail, you should have several copies in stock to play it safe. A recruiter may forget to print your paper due to the active flow of applicants. Additionally, a conversation with a candidate may involve several interviewers, whether it is a department head, mentor, or direct employer. If you provide a copy to each participant, your forethought and preparation will undoubtedly be noted.
  2. Portfolio. If you apply for a position in an industry such as art, design, engineering, product development, journalism, or copywriting, provide folders with examples of your work. If you are involved in such sectors as business, marketing, sales, customer service, consulting, and so on, the fruits of your activity are most likely not printable and less tangible. Therefore, you need to bring a list of successful cases and indicate your contribution to each of them. Regardless of the chosen portfolio type, the employer will see how you have succeeded at this point and what the company can gain from working with you.
  3. List of references. Sometimes even a craft professional can be a poor team player or a bad fit with the corporate culture. Such characteristics are not the best prerequisites for long-term cooperation. References, in this case, will help you get an initial credit of trust. But be prepared for the company to double-check the information that you provide and confirm your value as an employee. Therefore, simplify their research by including contact details with the positive responses of previous employers. Rest assured, a candidate who has nothing to hide always has a competitive advantage.
  4. Cover letter. Among all the documents that you should bring to an interview, a cover letter is the only one that can distinguish you from the rest of the applicants. This paper does not have strict content requirements, which enables you to fill it with a wide range of valuable information. For example, while your resume demonstrates where you worked, and references and a portfolio show how you succeeded, your cover letter can clarify your motives for choosing a company and the benefits of your accumulated knowledge and skills for the desired role. Such personalized appeal is a proven method to catch the attention of a recruiter after a dozen identical interviews.
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What Not to Bring to an Interview

Many applicants mistakenly focus only on what to take to a job interview. They prepare each critical document carefully and tick the list of useful things. Meanwhile, several casual attributes can still ruin your professional image even if you think you have done everything you can to get ready and have taken all details into account. To avoid it, keep in mind a list of things that should stay outside the office of the recruiter.

  • Mobile phone with sound on. The constant vibration of the device and notification of new messages distracts you and the recruiter from the hinge of the conversation. You may start to wonder why your friend is insistently asking you to contact him back and lose focus on your professional advantages. The interviewer, in turn, may feel that you have more pressing matters than answer their questions. It reduces not only the productivity of the dialogue but also your chances of positive feedback.
  • Food. Most food products have a smell that fills the room instantly and turns the business environment into the atmosphere of a cafeteria. Besides, a McDonald's bag is unlikely to harmonize with your application documents on the table, which discredits your professional and responsible approach to the meeting. Therefore, if you plan to have a snack after a stressful interview, wait to take care of your menu until after you leave the office.
  • Your purchases. Recruiters do not want to see the results of your shopping. It can give the impression that you just stopped in the office for a chat between other activities, and the interview is not your main priority. Therefore, if you had time for shopping before the meeting, take the trouble to leave your bags at the reception.
  • Magazines and books. If a potential employer sees a celebrity gossip magazine or a popular light fiction publication in the hands of a candidate, it casts doubt on their business attitude. Undoubtedly, your literary preferences are not related to your professionalism. But when it comes to first impressions, it is best to refrain from bringing entertainment materials along with your application documents. This does not apply if you are an author or a journalist, and such literature is part of your portfolio.
  • Products or attributes of competitors. The company is not just seeking an employee. It is looking for a member of the team who shares its mission and values. You can express your commitment during the interview, but if in everyday life, you actually prefer a competitor's brand, it indicates your low loyalty. Therefore, make sure that not a single detail of your image can discredit your motivation to join the selected company.
  • Awards and trophies. Some candidates try to expand their "what to bring to a job interview" list with school or college awards and sports trophies. But such materials do not increase your chances of getting a job offer right after the interview. They will undoubtedly demonstrate your proactive attitude but may seem too much to the employer. To avoid an embarrassing situation, just add your academic and extra-academic experience to your resume.

How Early Should You Be for an Interview

According to a study by "Psychology Today" magazine, arriving for an interview 15-20 minutes before it begins is a perfect solution. This is enough time to catch your breath after traffic jams and public transport and compile your thoughts. You can also use this extra time to review the winning points of your self-presentation or double-check the list of your questions for the recruiter.

You should not come for an interview too early. This could put the company’s staff in an awkward position. Their goal is to pay due attention to each visitor and create a favorable impression of the company. For this purpose, the secretary or receptionist will be forced to entertain you and provide a comfortable wait, which takes away from their other duties. Therefore, keep in mind that by arriving at a meeting too early, you do not demonstrate your responsibility, but instead cause problems.

Never be late. Punctuality is an essential characteristic in a business environment and a generally accepted criterion for evaluating a candidate. Some employers do not even interview latecomers, believing that a person who cannot manage their time will not be able to organize their work process. But even if such an event does not instantly ruin your chances, late attendance will still undoubtedly deprive you of points. To compensate for this, you will need to be just that much more impressive in the interview. Therefore, it’s easier to schedule your time and think about your route in advance.

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Wrap up

An interview is a crucial moment in your career that can determine your professional path for the next several years. Given this degree of responsibility, you undoubtedly want to present yourself well and make every step flawless. However, the pursuit of excellence always generates stress and often leads to unfortunate mistakes in interview preparation. To avoid them, you should calm down and perceive the application process not as a chance to please a potential employer, but as an opportunity to find the best job offer and your vocation. Then arm yourself with our checklist, which will help you to take every detail into account and come to the interview fully prepared.

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