8 things you must bring to a job interview

By Alan Taylor

Preparation for a job interview is the key to success. Prepare to fail – fail to prepare. It really is that simple!

Did you know that there are things you should bring with you to a job interview? Yes, that’s right. If you want to look professional and prepared, then here are 8 things you must bring to a job interview.

FOLDER OR BRIEFCASE

As we continue throughout this article there will be certain papers you need to take with you to the interview. These papers should be kept in a folder, binder, plastic wallet or briefcase. Choose your carrying case wisely as you want to come across professional – but don’t overdo it. Sometimes a briefcase would be the right choice, whilst sometimes a folder would be more appropriate.

A NOTEPAD AND PEN

You should be ready and prepared to jot down anything important during the interview. This will impress the manager and show them that you really do care about the job. Taking notes means that you are clearly engaged and interested in what they have to say. But don’t get too focused on your notepad and end up writing the whole time. This will not go down so well!

Always look the interviewer in the eye when you speak to them, but more importantly, when you are listening to what they have to say. Don’t write too much and end up staring mainly at your lap. Keep eye contact as often as possible, and make very quick notes. Finally, don’t forget to ask the interviewer if it’s okay to take notes at the start of the interview. They are very unlikely to say no, and it’s mainly all about being polite.

A LIST OF QUESTIONS

There is no point taking in a notepad if you don’t have some questions prepared in advance. Asking questions shows your keen interest in the role and the company. But make sure your questions are directly related to the specifics of the role, and throw a few in about the company and their culture.

The types of questions you should be asking are:

  • Can you tell me more about the role?
  • Is there a probationary period?
  • What type of training will I receive?
  • How would you describe the culture?
  • What are the company’s goals for the future?
  • What are the biggest challenges the company is currently facing?

Avoid questions about yourself, and don’t make it all about you. Focus in on the role and show how passionate you are about working for the company.

Other questions to avoid are about the salary and benefits. You don’t want to make the employer feel like that is all you are interested in. The employer wants to hire someone who is dedicated to their career and not only interested in how much it pays. There is plenty of time to ask those questions if and when you get a job offer.

4 COPIES OF YOUR CV OR RÉSUMÉ

Although you have already given the employer a copy of your CV, you shouldn’t assume they will bring one to the interview. They might forget to bring your CV to the interview, or decide not to as a test. In any case, always bring 4 copies – one for the interviewer, one for your self to refer to during the interview, one to read on the bus to ensure you know every aspect of it, and one extra copy as a spare in case they get damaged.

Taking copies of your application to the job interview shows you are prepared and ready to field questions about it. Having one on your lap will also help you when the interviewer refers to anything. It isn’t classed as cheating, and the manager will be impressed that you have taken the initiative.

YOUR PORTFOLIO

Taking in samples of your work to a job interview could give you an edge over your competition. It shows how passionate you are about the industry, and helps the employer to see what you’re capable of achieving.

You should always have samples of your work when in the creative industry. Graphic design, marketing, advertising, fashion – are all creative roles that require a portfolio. Your CV is not enough and will not provide the employer with an indication of your performance.

There are also some roles which the employer wouldn’t necessarily expect you to have a portfolio for. So if you think it will make you stand out and impress the employer in the interview, then create one and take it in. No matter what industry you are in it may be possible to still create a portfolio. Testimonials, sales stats, revenue, graphs and charts, accounts, pictures, designs – are all great ways to demonstrate your abilities.

YOUR REFERENCES

If you decided to state ‘references on request’ on your CV, then make sure you take them with you to the interview. Print them out using high quality paper, and not the standard photocopy paper you often find at your local supermarket.

This type of common A4 white paper is around 80gsm (grams per square meter). This isn’t thick enough and will feel tacky and unprofessional. Go for something more expensive and heavier – but not too heavy. You don’t want to print your references out on card!

The quality and feel of the paper as you hand it over to the manager will make a huge difference. Every small little detail like this adds to the whole interview and shows another layer of your professionalism.

Make sure all of the contact details are accurate and correct at the time of the interview. You should include the full name of your reference, their job title, company name and address and contact details – email and direct phone line (if possible).

YOUR PERSONALITY AND POSITIVITY

Your demeanour shouldn’t be too professional and stale, so bring your personality to the interview and relax a little. The manager will not just use the interview to see how suitable you are for the role. They will also be interested in how well you may fit into the team and the company’s culture.

Your personality is just as important as your skills, and it needs to shine through during the interview. Remember, the manager is looking for someone who will work well with the team. So stay positive throughout, friendly, optimistic, keep smiling, keep eye contact, and build up a rapport.

YOUR IDENTIFICATION

A small point here, but you may need to provide your identification to security when entering the building. It would be an awkward situation if you forgot this and were unable to get in for the interview. You might have to call the manager to get access, which could be embarrassing. Take your driving license or some kind of official photo ID.

You should also make a note of the name of the person you are there to see, the department and anything else – floor, particular building, and so on. You might also need this information to locate where the interview is. You don’t want to be late!