10 Things You Should Always Bring to a Job Interview—and 5 Things You Should Leave Behind
By Daniel Bortz
Picture this nightmare: You walk into an interview for your dream job, shake hands with the hiring manager, sit down, and then realize you’ve arrived completely empty-handed. We’re talking no copies of your resume, no pen and paper for notes—heck, it’s a miracle you remembered to put on deodorant!
Unfortunately, your lack of preparation may have just cost you your dream job.
What to bring to an interview
We’re about to outline a significant amount of paperwork you need to bring to a job interview, so first things first, you’ll want to have a folder where you can neatly store these documents.
2. Several copies of your resume
You most likely already submitted your resume when you applied for the job, but don’t assume the interviewer will have a copy of it on hand. “Hiring managers get busy and sometimes forget to print out your resume,” DeWall says.
3. Business cards
Although your resume should include your contact information, and business cards may seem old school, it can’t hurt to bring them with you, says millennial career coach Anastasia Button.
4. Portfolio/work samples
If you’re in a creative industry—like advertising, journalism, graphic design, architecture, or fashion—you should bring samples of your work that you can give to the interviewer. "Offer to send your full portfolio electronically later on," Button says.
If the interview goes well—better yet, when the interview goes well, the hiring manager might ask you for references on the spot, so you should have a list prepared with their contact information.
6. Pen and notepad
Taking a few notes during your interview can be beneficial for a few reasons. For one, it shows you’re actively listening to the interviewer and engaged in the conversation, while also ensuring you won’t forget important details about the job. Moreover, “you can refer to your notes, later on, to send the interviewer a personalized thank-you email,” Loock says.
To show you’re genuinely interested in the job, you should have questions for the hiring manager prepared in advance that demonstrate your understanding of the company’s core values, challenges, and culture.
8. Talking points
Job interviews are nerve-wracking. One way to reduce stress before the interview and build confidence is to jog your memory by looking at notes of things you want to mention during the interview, such as specific skills or anecdotes that highlight your strengths. DeWall recommends creating a “great list”—a short summary of your accomplishments, organized by skill set—that you can review before you walk into the interview.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s still worth mentioning, Button says. You may need to provide photo ID to enter the building, so check with the employer beforehand to find out what the building’s security requirements are.
10. A smile
“Smiling sounds corny, but employers want to see that you’re enthusiastic and excited about the position,” Loock says.