Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

What to Bring and Not to Bring to a Job Interview

It would seem that people should know what to bring and what not to bring to a job interview. But I am willing to bet that some HR professionals out there have some pretty interesting and frustrating stories about what potential candidates bring or don’t bring with them to the interview. College students and GenY members especially need to pay attention, as while we like to think we are setting new trends, the fact is GenX and the Baby Boomers still have the majority of power in hiring and recruiting. Once we’re in charge we can change the rules but until then it would be a smart idea to abide by the current norm.

What to bring to an interview:

  • Clean and pressed professional clothes. Suit and tie or business skirt- something professional. Tee-shirts and jeans are usually not acceptable for job interviews. My tip, always dress up. I always wear a shirt and tie, (matching) dress slacks and shoes. If the culture of the company is a little upscale, I wear a blazer. Keep it classy. Swag is for children, class is for adults.
  • Clean and UPDATED copies of your resume. The number of copies depends on how many people are interviewing you, but a healthy number is around five. That way you have copies for the hiring manager and a couple of other people as well as yourself.
  • Updated list of references. You never know when you are going to be asked for your references. Give a strong showing to the employer by having them ready. TIP: Before the interview starts but right after the initial meet and greet, pass out copies of your resume and references. That way they are already in the hands of your interviewers for them to reference throughout the meeting.
  • Note pad and fresh pen. Take notes during the interview about what the employer is telling you about the job and the company. That way you can come back to your notes later and reference them during the interview. Taking notes also shows the employer that you are invested in the conversation and paying attention.
  • Writing samples/portfolio of work. Do not wait for the employer to ask. Instead have them at the ready so the employer can ask you questions and review what value you can add to their company.
  • Printed copies of emails and correspondence between the employer and yourself. Just as a reference. Usually these emails contain the name of the person or people you are supposed to be meeting, as well as a general description of the job you are applying for.
  • Gum. Self explanatory. Chew at least 30 minutes before and spit out five minutes before the interview starts.
  • Drivers license/proof of ID/SS Card. You never know when they might ask for it. Some jobs require a proof of ID and social security number on file before they can hire you. Usually they do not ask for it until after you have been hired, but it never hurts to have them on you before hand.
  • Confidence and a good attitude. Employers feed off your attitude. They know you are a serious candidate if you act like one. If you give off that you don’t really care, then they probably won’t want to deal with you for very long.


What NOT to bring to an interview.

  • Food. Outside of an energy bar or something small to consume before the interview, do not bring food to an interview. Too many potential problems- such as staining clothes.
  • Pets. Leave them at home or with a friend. Do not plop your pet iguana on the table. Just don’t do it.
  • Things that make loud noises. Metal water bottles, heavy jewelry, music players, cell phones or tablets. They distract and break concentration away from the intended purpose of the meeting.
  • Flasks. The smell of alcohol can quickly kill your status as a professional and serious candidate. What you do in your own time is your business, but when you are on company time everything you do is scrutinized. Be smart. And hopefully don’t be driving.
  • Friends or relatives. Leave them in the lobby or drop them off somewhere else. The interview is between you and the company. No third party required or necessary. If you cannot handle the pressure on your own then why should the company hire you to do a job?
  • Inappropriate reading material. Again, your business. But don’t have a copy of your favorite romance novel sitting in your lap as you are trying to interview with a potential employer. Red faces all around.
  • Fraternity/Sorority pins. You’re involved in a Greek organization that you’re proud of. Good for you. The potential employer doesn’t care. Unless you know for a fact that the person you are interviewing with was in the same organization as you, don’t flash a badge that no one else understands. While you may have the image that Greek lettered social organizations are about specific values and important traditions, your employer may not have that same view. To them, they see a pin on your chest they may see Animal House and apply that image to you. Sidestep that issue and only bring up your organization in your resume under leadership experience or special awards/acknowledgements.

In no way are these lists final. Some people will suggest better items to bring or more items not to bring. As it is with many things, use your best judgment. Do what you think is the best way to make a great first impression on the potential employer.

Questions? Ideas or suggestions? Follow me on twitter @ChrisComella or email me at [email protected]

IMAGE: Courtesy of Landmark Report

Christopher Comella

Christopher earned his BA in Political Science from DePaul University in 2011, and is no stranger to writing and deadlines. One of his greatest assets is to add humor to even the driest of subjects, which is why half of his professors love him and the other half hated his work.

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