What To Bring To an Interview

June 29, 2021

It is beneficial to know what to bring to an interview as you move onto the next crucial stage of the application process. When meeting with a potential employer face to face for the first time, you'll want to leave a lasting impression. In this article, we address the top three items you should prepare before the interview, along with necessary documents and discuss the appropriate bag to set a great impression.

What documents should I bring to an interview?

When you walk into an interview, you cannot guarantee that the interviewer has a copy of your necessary documents. So use this opportunity to display organisational skills by preparing important documents that could set you apart from the other candidates. Here are important documents you can consider taking to your interview:

Copies of your resume

Bring a minimum of 5 freshly printed copies in case there are multiple interviewers. Keep one for yourself as a guide should you need to fill in additional job application questions. Store them in a folder or plastic wallet to avoid creasing and ensure that they are easy to access.

Work portfolio

Providing physical samples of your work helps showcase your work allowing the hiring manager to see what you're capable of visibly. Portfolios are particularly useful for creative industries such as journalism, graphic design or marketing. However, samples can also contain positive customer feedback or statistics from a previous role. Meaningful tangible case studies are proof that you have the ability to understand expectations and to meet the required deliverables.

Pre-written questions for your interviewers

Remember, interviews are not just for the hiring manager to know more about you; it's a chance for yourself to absorb information about the recruiting company. Note at least three questions for the interviewer on a document in case they slip your mind. This is an effective way to show your interest in the role you are applying for. This is more important today, as a cultural fit may be extremely important to both the employer and employee.

A list of references

The interviewer may already possess your list of references from your initial application. However, it is always advantageous if you come prepared without needing to reach for your mobile. Your references are contacts who can provide an accurate account of your professional abilities. Most employers only require two referees, who are typically former managers or professors/teachers. Only provide associates who can give positive feedback, excluding family members and friends.

Personal Identification

During your interview, you may need to provide evidence of having the right to work in Australia. You can give government-issued identification documents such as an Australian passport, birth certificate and declaration of citizenship. If you've immigrated, you can provide a temporary visa with entitlement to work. Consider also bringing a driver's license or permanent residence status to prove your address.

Related: Preparing for an Interview: How To Do It and Why It Matters

What should you not bring to an interview?

Interviewees aim to portray the best possible version of themselves to secure a position. Therefore, avoid bringing these items to a job interview:

  • Your mobile phone. Turning up to an interview with your mobile at hand, texting or speaking on the phone is highly unprofessional. Place it on silent in your bag.

  • Food or drink. Finish all refreshments before arrival and make sure your hands aren't sticky. Also, put gum and candy in the bin.

  • Casual attire. Avoid leisurely clothes such as jeans, active wear, or leggings for a professional interview. Arrive with a neat looking appearance and pull hair away from your face.

  • Lots of accessories. Remove caps and hats before you enter the interview room. Minimise facial jewellery by replacing large hoops with studs.

  • Your parents. Do not arrive accompanied by a family member or friend unless you are under 18 or require special assistance.

Related: Follow-Up Email Examples for After the Interview

What are three things you should bring to an interview?

Now that you have scheduled a job interview, you can create a checklist of items to bring to your interview. Narrow the list by including industry-specific points that promote your expertise in a particular line of work. For example, creative industries may require a visual portfolio, whereas business sectors may require samples of business plans and figures. Here are three necessary items to bring to every interview:

1. Notebook and pen

Take notes on fundamental details related to the position, such as the starting salary and working schedule. Jot down key questions your interviewers ask or any important insights they share. Not only can you come across enthusiastically, but you can use your notes later in a follow-up email.

2. Directions to the interview location

Once you receive the time and date of your appointment, check the route you'll need to take to arrive 10-15 minutes early. Anyone travelling via public transport, allow additional time for delays and unexpected cancellations. Consider reserving a backup plan or catching transport with an earlier departure time. Those driving may enquire about parking or do a drive-by to check out street parking. If you're still running late despite the preparation, politely contact the office or recruiter in advance to let them know.

3. Company fact sheet

Take some time to research the company before your interview commences in preparation questions about your familiarity with the business. Look into the company's core values and what it's trying to achieve. It's also worth looking into the company's history, noting any particular milestones and market knowledge. Note this information on a company fact sheet to help you deliver informed answers.

Related: How to Prepare for a Job Interview

What kind of bag do you bring to an interview?

In an interview, looking the part is just as important as your approach. So dress like you are serious about the position, coordinating a neat and professional suit or a smart shirt and trouser combo.

Promote professionalism by playing it safe with a classic leather briefcase or satchel. Stylistically, laptop bags are another great option for roles based within an office. Also, leather tote bags that are free from tears and scuffs are a great alternative.

Bear these points in mind when selecting a bag to bring to an interview:

1. Bring a size suitable bag

Bring a bag that comfortably holds all your belongings to your job interview. Pick one that is a suitable size for the number of items you are bringing. Avoid over packing your bag to the point of bulging; only carry what you need.

2. Use bag organisers

For peace of mind, consider a bag organiser that saves you from frantically scrambling around your bag for small items in front of the interviewer. Remember, you are trying to look as composed as possible. Bag organisers can provide dedicated compartments for documents, pens and digital devices.

3. Choose neutral tones

One way to ensure the interviewer's attention remains on you, rather than your accessories, is to bring accessories in neutral tones. Overpowering tones may appear unprofessional as they tend to clash with an office dress code; therefore, you can avoid bright colours or extravagant patterns to make a good impression. Instead, stick to neutral tones such as black, brown, navy blue and deep green.

Related: What To Wear To a Job Interview

4. Designate an interview-only bag

If you've got numerous meetings with a potential employer lined up, you may find it helpful to dedicate a bag to the sole use of interviews. Keep it topped up with relevant documents, notepads and working pens. You can adapt additional contents depending on the role you are attending an interview for.

5. Understand the company

Nowadays, many companies are becoming more relaxed with casual wear in the office, leaving you space to incorporate more of your personality into your interview outfit. Ensure you have an accurate idea of the company's dress code and culture before adapting your traditional formal attire.

6. Bring a professional bag

You can opt for a bag that's professional in nature like a briefcase. You can avoid bringing luggage carriers such as suitcases and holdalls as they do not tie in with formal attire. Activity specific bags for the gym are also best avoided unless your interview requires physical activity in a correlating line of work. Finally, steer clear of fashion statement bags if you are attending a more conventional interview.


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