Whether in-person or over Zoom, the interview is a big step toward a job. And while you know you need to bring your A-game, do you know what to bring to a job interview? Having the right items with you will help you feel confident and prepared, giving you the boost you need to shine.
In this guide, we cover:
- What to Bring to a Job Interview
- What Not to Bring to a Job Interview
What to Bring to a Job Interview
No matter where your interview is, career adviser Laci Baker suggests creating a checklist of everything you need to bring. “This makes the day of easier, and you can avoid forgetting something important,” Baker says.
Your checklist can also ensure you have everything you need well in advance of the interview.
What to Bring to an In-Person Interview
Here are the things you should bring to an in-person job interview.
The online version of your resume may be difficult to access during the interview. If you need to reference yours, it’s better to have a paper copy handy instead of trying to read it off your phone. While you’re at it, bring a few additional hard copies printed on nice paper that isn’t stained or crinkled. Sometimes interviewers ask for a copy of your resume. Having one on hand “shows you’re prepared and took the extra step to get it printed, meaning you really want the job,” Olga Eippert, director of people operations at Forage, explains.
Directions on your phone are a good idea, but consider having a hard copy just in case. You never know when you might hit a bad cellular connection, or something happens to your phone. Also, figure out multiple routes and methods for getting to the interview in case your primary plan doesn’t work.
A Professional-Looking Bag
Having one bag where you can stash everything is a more professional and polished look than juggling several items. It doesn’t need to be a big bag, just big enough. You can buy a bag or borrow one from a friend or family member. Likewise, you can use a backpack as long as it’s clean and not “well-used” (as in, frayed, torn, or falling apart).
Better safe than sorry! Pack a small container of mints to freshen your breath. A small bottle of mouthwash is also OK, but make sure it’s in a leakproof container (or two!). Skip the gum. You don’t want to have to spit it out on your way to the interview room. Bonus: Add some floss to your bag in case you eat something before the interview.
Consider including a small stash of Band-Aids, stain remover, and even deodorant for minor emergencies.
Some buildings and offices have strict visitor policies. You may need to show your ID to prove you’re “on the list.”
This item falls into the “maybe” category. Depending on how far you’re walking and the time of year, you may want to stash your interview shoes in your bag and wear more comfortable or weather-appropriate shoes to and from the interview.
Water and a Snack
Hopefully, your interviewer will offer you something to drink during the interview. But, if they don’t, at least you’ll be prepared. Keep the water bottle in your bag during the interview. The last thing you want is to spill water all over the interviewer! Have a quick snack for after the interview, in case things go long and you end up hungry.
Crush the interview
Forage’s virtual work experiences equip you with the skills and experience to speak confidently about the role during interviews.
What to Bring to a Virtual Interview
Even though you’re not traveling, you’ll want a checklist to ensure you have everything handy during your virtual interview. Here’s what to include.
Your Printed Resume
While you won’t need multiple copies to share with the interviewer, have at least one paper copy of your resume for your virtual interview. Why? First, if you don’t have multiple screens and need to refer to your resume, you’ll have to toggle between different tabs. While that happens in virtual meetings, you could come across as unprepared during an interview. Second, you never know when technology will fail. If that happens, a hard copy of your resume will save the day.
A Fully-Charged Device
A battery at 100% is always a good idea for virtual interviews, even if you can plug your device into a wall outlet. But it’s smart to have an external battery handy, just in case.
Make sure your device is up-to-date, and you’ve got the right hardware and software to sync with the interviewing platform. You don’t want to log into the interview right on time, only to have to spend five minutes updating and rebooting.
A Backup Plan
A virtual interview is only as good as its connection. While conducting your interview from someplace quiet and distraction-free usually means “from home,” if the power or internet goes out, you’ll need a backup plan.
A car can work in a pinch. You’ll have to explain your situation, but the interviewer might be impressed by your creative thinking and problem-solving skills. A friend’s house or the library might also be options, but if you can’t find a quiet place to conduct your interview, you may be better off rescheduling.
>>Looking for more virtual interview advice? Read up on Zoom interview tips.
What to Bring to All Job Interviews
Whether in-person or online, here’s what to bring for any kind of job interview.
Pens and Paper
A big part of interview success means taking notes during the interview. From writing down key details to formulate follow-up questions to jotting down someone’s name and email for a thank you note, a pen (or three!), and a notepad are essential items to bring to a job interview. Consider bringing a pencil, too, as a backup to your pens.
Being nervous is normal during a job interview, and preparation can help you stay calm. Having the name or names of those you’re meeting with (and their contact information) will help you remember who they are and get their name right the first time.
A big part of interview prep is researching the company and people to help you better understand the company, its mission, and how you’d fit in. Keep that research handy during your interview to help you answer questions and ask a few of your own.
At the end of the interview, you’ll get your chance to ask questions. These should be thoughtful, insightful, and a few should be prepared in advance. While you may formulate questions during the interview, you should come prepared with questions you want answered.
Examples of your work help demonstrate your real-world abilities. Whether it’s online or on paper, being able to show examples of your skills can make the difference between getting the job (or not!).
You don’t want to sound too rehearsed or robotic, but make sure you’ve prepped answers to common interview questions.
What Not to Bring to a Job Interview
While that covers what to bring to a job interview, here are the items you should skip.
While you’ll have your phone with you, make sure you silence it, preferably by setting it to airplane mode or do not disturb. This ensures your phone won’t go off at all during the interview.
Earbuds or Headphones
If you took public transportation to an in-person interview, you might have listened to a podcast or music during the ride. Make sure you stash these earpieces during the interview. If you’re doing a virtual interview, you may need headphones to hear the interviewer. Employers generally understand this need; just make sure you silence any notifications and close any tabs that might interrupt you.
Perfume, cologne, or aftershave
It’s best to tone these products down during an interview. If nothing else, your interviewer may be allergic, and they can’t conduct the interview if all they’re doing is sneezing.
Eating during an interview is frowned upon (unless it’s a lunch interview!). And while a small snack in your bag is fine, your whole lunch might smell, leak, or take up too much space in your bag. If you need lunch, be sure to eat before or after your interview.
While recording a mock interview is a great way to practice and get feedback, refrain from trying to record your actual interview. “I saw someone bring a recorder to an interview,” says Elisa Pineda, senior recruiter at Forage. “It was very awkward.” If you live in a two-party state, you’ll explicitly need the recruiter’s permission to record the interview. And if they don’t give it to you, you’re out of luck and may not get the interview. In a one-party state, you may not need permission, but the interviewer may not be thrilled with you recording the conversation without their knowledge.
At an in-person interview, a service animal is welcome, but a pet is not. And the same is true for a virtual interview. While you may be at home, Fido or Fluffy parking themselves in front of the camera may not be the best look during an interview (no matter how cute they are).
Get ready for your next interview, no matter where it is. Enroll in Comcast’s Unspoken Interview Fundamentals virtual work experience today.
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