They loved your application. You nailed the phone interview. The interview date is set, you’ve done your research and carefully prepped and rehearsed your answers.
One last consideration you need to make is what you’ll need to actually bring to the interview.
Having the right items on or near you on interview day helps you make the best impression possible to your recruiter and could be vital under certain circumstances.
There are things that you absolutely need to bring to get through the door. And then there are the things that aren’t totally necessary, but can help you feel more confident and prepared, and help create a positive impression with your interviewer.
In this article, we’re going to run through all of the above, as well as a list of a few things that absolutely should not come with you into the interview room.
Here are nine essential things you should bring with you to your next interview:
An official form of ID, like a passport, your driver’s license, or an identity card, is a must.
This definitely falls under the ‘must-have’ category, as companies need to ensure that you are indeed who you say you are, and the right person has walked through the door at the allotted time. So make sure you have this essential item on you before the big day.
With some employers, it’s advisable to ask exactly which type of ID they would prefer you to bring beforehand.
We’ll get to the various bits of paper and other important documents you need to bring later, but first, it’s definitely useful to have something to hold them all in.
A folder, binder, or folio is an enclosure for the storage and organization of your paper files.
There are varying levels of fanciness to the different folder products out there, so take your pick.
But we would definitely recommend getting one that allows you to organize files with labels. This way, there will be no awkward shuffling when the interviewer asks for a specific document, a copy of your resume, or your business card/contact information.
It may have been what got you through the door, but that doesn't mean you’re done with it just yet.
Interviews are rarely conducted alone. While it is entirely possible for the prospective employer to print off multiple copies of your resume (and perhaps even your cover letter) it speaks to your preparedness that you have several copies of your own ready to share.
While a portfolio mainly applies to creative fields like photography, as an example, there are many other jobs where you build up a set of work from your previous employment, and they make great evidence of your abilities.
Chefs, carpenters, landscapers, are all roles where a portfolio can help show your capabilities.
So, if you don’t have one already, consider whether it would be possible for you to develop a collection of your best work that is relevant to your potential new job.
As you build a portfolio, remember to remove any sensitive information, or data that reveals client information. Gather your work examples, and make sure your work is consistent and presentable in your folder. Your interviewer will appreciate getting to see real-life examples of your abilities.
You have listed off a few references in your resume for the hiring manager to investigate on their own. And it’s likely that they did exactly that, but it’s still useful to bring paper copies of your references.
This is because the person who processed your resume might be completely different from the person or set of people conducting the interview.
So, if they do ask for that crucial bit of information, they’ll be happy to get in-hand during your interview.
A notepad and pen gives the potential employer a strong indication that you are prepared, focused, and serious about the job. Note takers say with body language, "I am ready to learn and absorb what you'd like to teach me.
While we don’t encourage frantic note-taking in your interview, there may indeed be moments where you’ll want to jot down some information, especially if they mention anything that you want to follow up on later.
And aside from the optics of these items, they will definitely come in useful when it comes to the next item to bring.
Interview questions are not necessarily a "physical item", but a well-considered list of questions to ask your interviewer is essential when showing that you’re the best candidate in a job interview.
It can be a red flag to employers, if at the end of the interview, the candidate has no questions about the potential commitment they’re about to make to the company.
If you write down a few common interview questions, you won’t have to worry about forgetting them when the time comes. A well-crafted question can also make you look a whole lot better than trying to come up with one on the spot.
This might feel invasive, but consider this:
If you were a hiring manager and two candidates came in with mirror-image qualifications, positive character traits, and general suitability for the role, but one of them has bad breath and smells of body odor... which one are you going to pick?
It’s certainly not a problem for most, and of course not the most important thing in the minds of the hiring managers, but in an interview, you want to give yourself as much of an advantage as possible.
Having some dental floss, mouthwash, deodorant, a small mirror, and a comb or brush with you can help you do a quick tidy before you walk in the door. So, you know you’re looking your best and don’t have to worry about any stray spinach stuck in your teeth.
**Pro tip: **If you get sweaty palms when you're nervous, use a dab of hand sanitizer before shaking hands. This will help with a confident (and dry) handshake.
If you have nothing else on interview day, make sure you have this.
We didn’t include this to be quirky. Being relaxed is the most important asset you could have going into an interview. A relaxed person is comfortable, carefully listens and absorbs questions, and smoothly comes up with relevant answers.
Interviews are obviously nerve-inducing events. But try your hardest not to let that affect your performance in there.
You can practice mindfulness or meditation beforehand, listen to some relaxing music, or blow off steam by doing something fun and casual before your interview. When you're in a relaxed state state of mind, your genuine suitability for the role will do the rest of the work.
Ok, you’ve got your ID ready, your documents, portfolio, and notepad/pen in your folder, a decent set of questions, some personal hygiene products, and a zen state-of-mind ready to go.
Is there anything you should avoid bringing with you?
As it turns out, yes there is.
Here are a few items we’d personally put on the no-fly list, with supporting explanations:
Headphones are fine outside of the building. But the moment you step inside, they need to be stashed away.
Not only do you need to hear your name being called or any instructions, it’s also subtly rude to be wearing them in a professional setting. Avoid headphones if possible.
We know this contrasts with our earlier point, but there’s a line that’s not to be crossed.
You may be surprised to learn that many places these days are scent-free or scent aware, so try to avoid strong-smelling perfume, cologne, or deodorant.
While we’re at it, we want to use this point to say don’t use chewing gum in place of mouthwash, or if you do, spit it out before you go in the building. As with headphones, gum chewing can carry a slight perception of rudeness.
Not only do you not want any distraction going in, neither do the other interviewees, the recruitment assistants, or the interviewing managers.
Similar to a movie theater, an interview is probably the worst place your ringtone could be blasting.
It’s not ideal to bring food on your interview day (think of the spill potential). But, you might have been instructed to bring lunch for a particularly long interview day, or needed to pack a snack for a long commute.
Just make sure it’s not an overly strong-smelling food. Save the sardines for the day after.
As a final note on what not to bring, we would recommend against bringing a gift in most interview situations.
By giving a gift to your interviewer, you’re taking the risk of it being perceived as a bribe. It’s best to save your gift-giving efforts until after you’ve gotten the job offer.
There it is, the dos and don'ts of what to bring on interview day.
While our list is pretty exhaustive, it’s always worth asking the recruiting or hiring manager to see if there’s anything additional they would like you to bring.
For more insightful job interview tips on both sides of the hiring equation, a vibrant community of recruitment professionals and candidates, and all the latest conversations in this space, head over to the JobCase community and join the conversation.