Your job interview may be your one chance to make an impression on a prospective employer. Be prepared. Don’t just rehearse answers to possible questions and research the company, make sure you have everything you need before you go to the interview. Your briefcase should include:
- Your résumé: Make sure you have enough copies for anyone who interviews you. It’s better to print too many than be unprepared.
- Breath mints: Pop one just before you walk in and you won’t have to worry about bad breath.
- A reference sheet: This should include names, business addresses, current phone numbers, and titles for your references and each of your past positions. You may be asked to fill out a paper job application at the interview and you shouldn’t trust your memory for the address of the company you worked at six years ago.
- Work samples: If you have relevant physical examples of your work, such as articles you’ve written, web pages you’ve designed, or photographs you’ve taken, be sure to include them.
- Water: Your interview could last hours. You’ll need water if you intend to talk that long. Don’t count on your interviewer to provide it.
- Directions: Be sure to include directions to and from the interview and allow yourself adequate time to get lost or stuck in traffic.
- Paper and a pen: You’ll need to take notes, especially when the interviewer describes the position. Asking to borrow a pen could signify to the interviewer that you are unprepared for the interview and perhaps the job.
- A list of questions to ask: It’s better to jot down an outline or keyword to signify the questions you practiced at home than write out the responses in full. It will make you sound more natural than if you read off a list of questions.
- Emergency materials: A small umbrella, a sewing kit in case your stockings run or your suit rips, cab fare in case your car stalls, and the telephone number of the company in case you get lost. Try to think of anything bad that might happen and pack a solution.
You should also bring things you normally don’t leave home without— your wallet, identification, and cell phone, although it should be on a silent setting or kept in the car.