What to Bring to a Job Interview

Image by Maddy Price. © The Balance 2019

What should you bring to a job interview? It's important to enter an interview prepared with everything you physically and mentally need, organized and ready to go. There are also some things that you shouldn't do.

What to Bring to an Interview

  • Directions. If you're not sure where you're going, bring directions and any instructions the hiring manager may have given you. If you have an email confirmation of the appointment, bring that too. If you can, do a test drive to the location to see how long the drive is, you do not want to be late. Try to arrive 10-15 minutes early.
  • Identification. If the building has security, you may be asked to show identification, or you may need it to complete a job application. Bring your driver's license or another form of identification with you.
  • Notepad and Pen. There is nothing worse than searching for a pen or asking to borrow a pen, during the interview, so make sure to bring your own. Also bring a notepad so you can jot down names, company information, or questions you come up during the interview. Bringing a pen and notepad shows you came to the interview prepared.
  • Names of Contacts. Write down the name of the person you're interviewing with on your notepad. It can be easy to forget a name, and you don't want to be embarrassed. Also bring the name of the person who arranged the interview, if it's a different person.
  • List of Questions to Ask. Have a list of questions to ask the interviewer when they ask you at the end if you have any questions for them. You will be thankful you prepared some questions ahead of time, sometimes trying to come up with a meaningful question off the top of your head can be challenging and stressful.
  • Extra Copies of Your Resume. Bring several copies of your resume to give out upon request. Your resume will also give you the details, like dates of previous employment, which you may need if you have to fill out a paper job application.
  • Reference List. Bring a printed list of references to give to the hiring manager. Include at least three professional references and their contact information. Choose references that can attest to your ability to perform the job you are applying for.
  • Work Samples. Depending on the type of job you're interviewing for, you may need to bring samples of your work. If they don't lend themselves to print, consider bringing your iPad or laptop.
  • A Portfolio. A portfolio is a great way to package all the items you're bringing with you to the interview in a neat and orderly fashion. That way, you're organized, and everything you need will be readily accessible.

    What Not to Bring to or Do During a Job Interview

    What you shouldn't bring to a job interview is important. Believe it or not, there are stories of applicants for internships and entry-level jobs bringing their mom or dad to the interview! Don't do it. It is both awkward and unprofessional to have a third party in the room. In fact, it will probably cost you a job offer. You need to be able to interview on your own merits, and the company wants to interview you, not your parent.

    • Don’t chew gum or suck on candy. Throw out the gum or candy before you enter the office.
    • Don’t carry in your morning coffee or protein shake.
    • Don’t walk into the office talking on your phone or texting. Turn off your phone or ringer before you walk into the building.
    • Don’t wear a hat or cap, leave it at home.
    • Don’t overwhelm the interviewer with your piercings or tattoos. If you have a lot of piercings or earrings, take out a majority of them, so they aren’t a distraction (one pair of earrings, is a good rule). Do your best to cover your tattoos.
    • Don’t put on any strong perfumes or colognes; you never know if someone is allergic in the office.
    • Don't bring your parents! Leave your parent(s), friends or anyone else at home or in the car, if you needed a ride.

    Mentally Prepare for Weird Questions

    The interviewer may ask questions that may be a little quirky, depending on the company. Questions off topic like, “If you could be a superhero, what would be your super power?” Researching some possible weird questions and thinking about them ahead of time can be a real advantage for you.

    Know What to Expect

    In addition to knowing what to bring, and what not to bring, it's also a good idea to get a refresher on what may take place during the interview process.