Should I bring a briefcase to my job interviews? I don’t even own one, but I don’t know what else to bring!
You cleaned up your LinkedIn profile, sent out dozens of applications, and networked like a boss. Sounds like your hard work has paid off and you’ve landed a big interview (or several)—congratulations! Now the nerves start and you’re probably second-guessing your outfit, interview answers, and handshake. While it can be easier to channel your energies into focusing on details rather than fretting about the big picture, you need to remember that the interview itself is the most important hurdle, and not the accouterments. Focus on being prepared without going overboard and consider toting a padfolio instead of a briefcase to your interview.
A modern, more mobile version of a briefcase, the padfolio houses the top three items you should bring to a job interview. Job seekers on Internet forums mention that a briefcase can feel old-fashioned or remind the interviewer of a salesperson, but as always, keep your industry and regional standards in mind. We feel that unless you’ll be using your briefcase during the interview, it’s an unnecessary (and expensive) prop.
Stock your padfolio with:
By showing up with several copies of your resume, you broadcast that you’re ready for curve-balls, like if your interviewer decides at the last second to pull a colleague into the meeting. Don’t forget a copy for yourself—having dates and job titles in front of you can help when you temporarily blank on those details. If you’re applying for a position where a portfolio would be applicable, include a few examples to better illustrate your skills and follow-up with your full portfolio via email after the interview.
Interviews are a two-way street—while at times it may feel like they have all the power, don’t forget that you need to decide if the company is a good fit for you as well. Prepare some key questions to answer any unexplained details and to show you’ve done your research on the position, company, or industry. Write your questions down in advance to avoid forgetting any important ones, and you’ll look both prepared and thoughtful to your interviewer.
Taking notes during an interview indicates to the interviewer that you’re paying close attention, but it also gives you more information later when considering if the job is truly the right fit. If you’re applying for multiple positions, review your notes to refresh your memory about the interview and to help make a decision to proceed forward or not. Use the included pad or swap it out for your favorite notepad to stay prepared.
Don’t sweat a high-stakes job interview. Armed with these essential items, you can make a fantastic first impression and feel more confident knowing you’re well prepared.