Congratulations! You applied for a great job and have been called in for an interview. You have stood out among the pile of resumes and have a very good shot of landing the job if you nail the interview. You were up against potentially hundreds of applicants. Now you are up against a much smaller pool of candidates. Three to five candidates is the average for a first round of interviews.
There are many things you should do to prepare:
Conduct mock interviews with a trusted peer or career coach to practice.
Select a conservative and professional outfit.
Get directions well before the meeting time so you know exactly where you are going. Be sure to add 30-45 minutes to your travel time, just in case. It’s always better to arrive early instead of late. You can review your notes in the lobby so you don’t arrive too early.
Gather the essential resources you’ll need to bring with you.
It’s not a long list, but these items are really important if you are to make the best possible impression.
There are many horror stories that hiring managers share about the interview process. Many are about what people bring - or do not bring - to the interview. To help you avoid being a character in an interview horror story, here is a simple list to help you pack your briefcase and make a great impression:
What to bring to an interview
Updated copies of your resume. We recommend at least five printed on resume quality paper.
Horror Story: One candidate was so nervous she couldn’t remember what was written on her resume and was unable to answer basic questions about her experience. Having a copy of your resume for your own reference is just as important as having it for your interviewer.
Notepad and pen. You don’t need to take notes on everything that is said, but be prepared to jot down something of importance at any time during the conversation. You won’t want to rely on memory to remember everything, especially if you are nervous. Also be sure to test your pen before the interview to make sure it works!
Horror story: A candidate came up with several additional examples of how she would add value to the company, but she didn't have her pen and paper for notes. After the interview, she stressed for hours about what additional information she wanted to provide in the follow up email.
Bottle of water. While the interviewer may offer you one, don’t assume it will be provided.
Horror story: A candidate had a tickle in her throat mid-interview so severe she couldn’t speak. The interviewer had to walk to the other side of the building to get her water, which interrupted the flow of the conversation and put the focus on the unfortunate event instead of her qualities as a potential candidate.
Do NOT bring to an interview
Your mother. While you may be chuckling, people have actually brought their mothers to interviews. If anything shouts unprofessional and immature; it’s bringing your mother!
Your pets. This seems like it’s common sense, but again, this has actually happened! Not everyone thinks cats are cute and dogs are fun. Many people are allergic or just don’t like animals. A job interview is not a place for pets.
Laptop. Unless the interviewer specifically requests you to bring your laptop, don’t. Using a laptop to take notes puts an obstacle in between you and the interviewer. They also can’t see what you’re actually doing on the screen, which may be distracting.
What is in your briefcase during an interview? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.