As more companies mandate that employees have to return to the office, you’ll likely need to prepare for an in-person interview if you want to secure a new job. As you get ready for your big day, what should you bring to a job interview?
What To Bring To A Job Interview
Here are 8 things you should bring to your interview:
1. A notepad and pen
While you’ll be spending plenty of time talking about yourself, you’ll also learn a lot about your prospective employer and its company culture, so come to your interview equipped with a notepad and pen.
You can also opt for a leather padfolio, which you can find for less than $20 on Amazon or at your local office supply store, to carry your interview materials. When I graduated from San Francisco State University, the Department of Residential Life gifted us a padfolio with the university’s logo, which I’ve used for countless interviews and meetings since.
A bonus to bringing a notepad and pen to your interview is that you can write down key talking points, then reference them throughout your conversation.
Note: Some job seekers express hesitation about bringing notes to an interview. However, I argue that it shows you’re prepared and thoughtful, so long as you’re not reading directly from your notes.
2. A water bottle
Since you’ll be spending a lot of time talking about yourself during your interview, consider also bringing a water bottle to stay hydrated and prevent dry mouth.
Moreover, you can take a sip of water when you need an extra moment to collect your thoughts or calm any interview nerves.
3. Your resume and cover letter
You’ll also want to bring a copy of your resume and cover letter to your job interview, as this allows you to easily reference your career history, especially if you’re asked, “Can you walk me through your resume?”
You can also leverage your career documents to call attention to your accomplishments throughout your interviews. This might sound like, “As you can see on my resume…”
Note: In addition to bringing a cover letter and resume for each interviewer, it doesn’t hurt to print a few extra copies in case someone unexpectedly joins your meeting.
4. Your work samples or portfolio (optional)
In addition to your career documents, you might also want to bring a few work samples or a professional portfolio to your interview.
Although the flow of the conversation will dictate whether you share this collateral, it’s better to bring work samples and not need them than wish you had spent time developing something.
These work samples or portfolios will look different depending on your line of work. If you’re a marketing executive, for example, you might bring a sample go-to-market plan. Conversely, if you’re a creative director, you’ll likely have a portfolio that highlights a half-dozen of your most impressive projects.
Note: Like your resume and cover letter, you’ll want to bring enough copies for each interviewer, as well as a few extras to leave behind.
5. STAR(T) stories
You’re bound to be asked behavioral interview questions during your interview, so you’ll need to come prepared with good stories from your career.
However, not all stories are created equal. As I’ve shared with Forbes, I recommend using my STAR(T) methodology, a modified version of the popular STAR formula, to more powerfully package and shape your stories:
- Situation: What was the situation?
- Task: What was your task?
- Action: What actions did you take?
- Result: What were the results of your actions?
- Tie: How does your story tie back to the company and position you’re interviewing for?
Although you can’t prepare for every potential interview question, you’ll be able to answer most, if not all, questions if you come to your interview with a half-dozen strong, memorable STAR(T) stories at the ready.
Confidence can be a game-changer when interviewing for your next role.
Leading up to your big day, consider writing out a list of all the experiences, skills, and qualities that set you apart from other applicants. Then, summarize this into some short “fabulousness phrases” that you can share with the hiring team during your interview.
You might also find it helpful to write down a mantra you can say to yourself throughout the interview. Here are a few mantras to serve as inspiration:
- “I am more than qualified for this role.”
- “I will land this job.”
- “I am fabulous!”
7. Questions for your interviewers
At the end of your interview, you’ll likely be asked, “What questions do you have for us?” Consequently, you’ll need to come prepared with solid, memorable questions to ask the hiring team.
Although your questions will likely evolve based on what you learn during the interview, it’s good to come up with a comprehensive list of questions that allow:
- You to learn more about the company, culture, and position, and
- The interviewer to learn more about you and your interview.
It’s a good idea to bring more questions than you expect to ask. One of my coaching clients attended an interview where he was asked two questions by the interviewer, then for the remaining 50 minutes he was asked, “What questions do you have for us?” Thankfully, we had prepared for this kind of situation, and he was able to learn a lot about the company and culture through his thoughtful questions.
8. An extra change of clothes
You only get one first impression with potential employers, yet according to Murphy’s Law (i.e., that anything that can go wrong, will), an accident is bound to happen sometime during the process, so it’s smart to have a change of clothes on deck.
You can keep the extra set of clothes in your car just in case you happen to spill your coffee, sweat through your shirt, or rip your pants. (Knock on wood that none of these happens, but it’s better safe than sorry!)
Conclusion: What To Bring To A Job Interview
To summarize, here’s what you should bring to your next job interview:
- A notepad and pen to capture important takeaways.
- A water bottle to stay hydrated and avoid a dry mouth.
- Several copies of your resume and cover letter.
- Work samples or your portfolio (optional).
- A half-dozen STAR(T) stories you can customize to your interviewers’ questions.
- Confidence regarding what sets to apart from other candidates.
- Memorable questions for your interviewers.
- An extra change of clothes, just in case.
You’ve got this!