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by Vault Careers | August 30, 2017


Candidates waiting for an interview

If you’re out of interview shape, then you might want a refresher on what you need to bring to an interview. There’s nothing worse than arriving at an interview and realizing you forgot something essential. So, we’ve compiled 5 must-haves to bring with you to your next interview, to help you maximize your chances of landing the job.

1. Copies of your résumé

You should always arrive at an interview with several printed copies of your résumé. You never know who might ask for your résumé—your interviewer, a member of HR, or even an employee you strike up a conversation with in the elevator. Your résumé is a curated look at your professional experience that explains why you’re a great candidate for the job, so you never want to be caught without it when you’re around people who could help you land that job. Even if you already sent your résumé to the recruiter, your interviewer may not have had time to print it out. Plus, it helps to have an extra copy you can glance over in the lobby before your interview, to refresh your memory in preparation for that dreaded question, “Tell me about yourself.”

2. A pen and notepad

There are many reasons it’s a good idea to bring a pen and notebook with you to an interview. Perhaps you ask your interviewer for her business card, but she doesn’t have it on her; a pen and paper will allow you to jot down her email address so you can send a thank-you message to her later. Or, you meet with HR and learn a lot of important details about the role’s benefits that you want to write down. While you do always have the option to take notes on your phone, having a pen and paper handy never hurts. And with pen and paper, you don’t have to worry about distracting text messages popping up or your phone running out of charge.

3. Directions and contact information

One of the biggest gaffes you can make in an interview is showing up late. To avoid this, be sure to map out your route to the location well in advance, and budget extra time to get there in case you get delayed. In addition, have the recruiter’s contact information written down. If you’re late, immediately email the recruiter and give him a call to let him know. While being late can hurt your chances at landing the job, how you handle the mistake can matter even more.

4. References

On the off chance you have to fill out an official job application before your interview begins, come prepared with references on hand. Print out the names, titles, and contact information of at least three references, so you don’t have to waste time looking up the details on your phone once you arrive. Be discerning when choosing references—ideally you want past managers or colleagues of yours who can attest to your qualifications and work ethic, and who will provide glowing reviews of you.

5. Questions

While you can’t exactly pack questions in your briefcase, they are perhaps the most important thing you need to bring with you to an interview. Your interviewer will undoubtedly ask if you have any questions for her at the end of the interview, at which point you should be ready to fire off at least a few specific, informed questions. By asking pointed questions, you can showcase some of the research you’ve done on the company, demonstrate your interest in the role, and learn more about this potential colleague of yours. Plus, you might receive some revelatory answers that could inform whether this role is in fact a good fit for you. Don’t forget that the interview is a two-way street; while your interviewer tries to determine whether you’re a strong fit for the company, you also need to determine how much you like this company and whether you’d accept an offer to work there.