What to bring to an interview?
Do you ever wonder what to bring to an interview? It’s always pretty amazing to see what people show up with. I’ve had ringing cellphones, family photo albums, and even other people. Most HR and hiring managers have seen some rather odd things. Our interview coaching clients often ask us what to bring to their interviews.
Water: You’re going to do a lot of talking, and you will probably be thirsty. It’s nice to have a bottle on hand in case you get a dry cough and need to take a quick drink. Water is also a useful tool to help buy you a few extra seconds to think about a question before diving into an answer.
Resume: The hiring manager may not have printed it, or it could be a panel of interviewers who may or may not have seen a copy. I recommend bringing five copies with you to hand out if needed. Using a heavier weight neutral resume paper is a good idea, but not a deal breaker.
Notepad and two pens: Write down the interviewer’s names or questions that come to mind. We recommend taking notes on complicated interview questions too so you can make sure you hit all of the sub-questions they might be asking. Bring two pens, because one might stop working, and try to avoid the ‘click’ pens if you tend to fidget.
Questions: Don’t get caught at the end of the interview without having questions ready to ask at the end of the interview. By asking well thought out questions, you can gain more insight into the job and build rapport with the interview panel. Research the company and prepare a few open-ended questions ahead of time.
Mints: Just to be on the safe side. Pop a mint while you wait in the lobby and then put them away. In case you’re wondering, it’s not a good idea to pull them out during the interview and offer them to the interviewers, no matter how much they might need one.
What not to bring to an interview
Almost more important than what to bring to an interview is what NOT to bring. The last list focused on being prepared for success while this is the list to avoid disasters.
Cellphone: Please, just leave it behind. If you absolutely must have it with you, power it down as soon as you step into the lobby. Yes, turn it all the way off, not just airplane mode. The interview starts as soon as you walk in the door. Spend the time observing the office or reviewing your notes. Your body language directly impacts your confidence, so sit up straight instead of curling over a cellphone.
Other people: I’ve seen parents, boyfriends, and children at job interviews. While there have been circumstances where it’s okay, those are few and far between. If you need any accommodations to participate in the interview, let the hiring manager know before the interview. Otherwise, ask your friends and family to wait away from the office.
Chewing gum: I get it, you want your breath to be fresh, and you promise that you’ll spit it out before the interview starts. It’s still a bad idea, even in the lobby. The chewing, snapping, and popping can be distracting, and worse, you have to remember to find a place to get rid of it discreetly before the interview starts. Spit it out before you walk in the door.
Food: It is a terrible idea to bring your lunch with you and ask the interviewer if they are okay with you eating because you’re “starving!”. This one might hit a little close to home for me. Eating at an interview or in the lobby is a bad idea.
Perfume/Cologne/Scented lotion: There are a lot of people who have allergies to fragrances, and causing an allergic reaction during an interview does not lend to a positive first impression! Some workplaces are fragrance-free, especially in medical, office and retail environments. Scents can be too strong, and you want the hiring manager to focus on your skills, not smell.