You've, no doubt, been preparing your heart out. You researched the company, prepared answers to common interview questions, talked to people at the company and written out thoughtful questions to ask. You’re good to go, right?
Not so fast! With all of the activities tied up in interview prep, it’s easy to throw on your business casual
interview duds and run out the door without packing the right items.
1. Resume Copies and Your Business Cards
Until they do — and it's actually pretty common. Many offices don't have printers as readily available as you may imagine, so your interviewer may actually be relying on grabbing a copy from you, especially if she's had a busy day.
Bring at least three copies of your resume just in case. You never know if the interviewers will pull in someone from another office to say hello or unexpectedly add someone to the interview schedule. At startups, it's very common for interviewees to meet everyone from the CEO on down; in many of those cases, someone will walk off with your resume and the next interviewer will want to see a copy.
The best bet, rather than hoping that your interviewers will be prepared, is to come with plenty on hand.
As for business cards, don't feel as if you have to order some just for interviewing, but if you already happen to have ones made, bring a small stack with you in case someone asks for your email or contact information. Of course, your information is easily accessible on your resume or cover letter, but you'll look extra prepared and professional if you have a card to give if requested.
2. Pad and Paper
During an interview, your mind will be racing. Having a pen and paper handy will ensure you don’t have to rely solely on your memory to keep track of all of the information coming your way.
Of course, you probably want to avoid taking notes like a court stenographer, but use these tools to ensure you write down key points about your potential employer, team and role. A pen and paper will also be useful to write down questions or topics as they come up that you want to bring up later in the conversation. And if you're tempted to use your cell phone for notes — don't. Even if you tell your interviewer you're using it to jot down notes, you'll look unprofessional typing into your phone during a conversation.
Your reference document should use the same heading as your resume and list at least three people. Provide your references’ full names, current job titles, phone numbers, email addresses and your relationship to each person. You won’t hand this document to your interviewers or hiring manager unless asked, but it will be helpful to have it handy to either provide or use to write your references down on a form. That way you’re not searching through your phone while filling out an application.
Before providing the names in your interview, ensure that those you’d like to include are comfortable being your references. Also, after you’ve provided their contact information to a company, circle back to let your references know that they might receive a call and include a copy of the job description and any specifics you’d like them to highlight. This will help your references help you.
4. Assignments or Writing Samples (if Applicable)
It’s becoming more and more common for employers to give candidates "homework." This could be writing and editing articles for an editorial position, to composing sample social media posts, to even giving some sort of presentation as part of the interview process. If that’s the case, it is essential to have backups of your work. That means digital as well as hardcopy.
As your first option, I recommend bringing your laptop with the presentation already queued up. You should be able to just open your computer and go. As a backup, also email yourself a copy of the presentation and have it available on a flash drive. If one option doesn’t work immediately, you can seamlessly try others without getting flustered.
And for assignments such as articles or editing, have a printout just in case.
5. Portfolio Folder
Your important documents: references, resumes, writing samples (if applicable), business cards, notebook, pen, and more should fit in a neat and tidy portfolio folder (which you can find online or at any office supply store for $10 or less).
In it, you can easily store these items so you’re not fishing in a purse or briefcase to find a pen or pull out a crumpled resume or tattered notepad. A portfolio will add to your professional look and can also serve as a hard surface on which to write your notes.
6. Key Takeaways And Questions
Before the in-person interview, consider what information is most important to impart to your interviewers and jot down a few notes about these points.
You can write those bullets on the sheet of paper on which you’re taking notes so you don’t forget to incorporate them into your responses. Don’t write paragraphs that will distract you, just one or two words about each topic to jog your memory as you answer questions. Your post-interview questions
should also be written out in your notebook beforehand. Having these points prepared will ensure you don’t get home to realize you’d forgotten something you had wanted to ask or share.
7. Touch-Up Essentials
This one will vary from person to person.
Consider what you need to help you look and feel your best. Would you like to pop a mint before your meeting, freshen your makeup, reapply deodorant, brush your hair? Bring the supplies to do what you need to do to help you walk into your interview feeling confident. Leave the gum and extra perfume at home, though. Both can leave a bad impression on interviewers and distract from your well-prepared answers.
You have what you need ready to go. You have arrived at the job interview in plenty of time. Now, just before you check in at reception, sneak into the ladies room to hold a power pose, silence your phone, take a deep breath and rock that interview! You’ve got this!
Alyson Garrido is passionate about helping women advance their careers and find jobs they will enjoy. As a career coach, she partners with her clients to identify their strengths and create a path toward a more fulfilling career. Alyson provides support around preparing for interviews, performance reviews and salary negotiations, ensuring that you present yourself in the best possible light for job search and career advancement. Learn more or book a session with Alyson by visiting www.alysongarrido.com.