What to Bring to an Interview

Updated 4 May 2023

When meeting with a potential employer face to face for the first time, you'll want to leave a lasting impression that ensures you reach the next stage of the application process. In this article, we outline important documents to bring to an interview, a short checklist of other items you should prepare and advice on what kind of bag is most appropriate to take with you to your interview.

Related: 10 Interview Hacks to Help You Prepare for a Job Interview

What to bring to an interview: Documents

When you walk into an interview, you shouldn't assume that the interviewer has a copy of your necessary documents. Take advantage of this opportunity to display your organisational skills that can set you apart from other candidates by preparing important documents your interviewer might need. Here are a few to consider taking to your interview:

Copies of your resume

Bring a minimum of 5 freshly printed copies in case there are multiple interviewers, making sure to bring one for yourself as a guide should you need to fill in additional job application questions. Store your resumes 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 in a visual way. Portfolios are particularly useful for creative industries such as journalism, graphic design or marketing. You can also contain examples of positive customer feedback or statistics from a previous role. Meaningful, tangible case studies are proof that you have the ability to understand expectations and 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 you to learn more about them and the company recruiting. Jot down at least three questions you want to ask the interviewer in a notebook before heading into the interview. This is an effective way to show your interest in the role you are applying for and demonstrate that you're a cultural fit for the company.

A list of references

The interviewer may already have a list of references from your initial application on hand. However, it is always advantageous to come prepared without needing to reach for your phone. Most employers only require two referees, who are typically former managers or professors/teachers who can provide an accurate account of your professional abilities. Make sure to only provide references who can give positive feedback, and never list family members or friends.

Personal Identification

During your interview, you may need to provide evidence of having the right to work in Australia. Government-issued identification documents such as an Australian passport, birth certificate or declaration of citizenship are appropriate forms of identification. If you've immigrated, make sure to provide a copy of your visa that outlines your right to work. Consider also bringing a driver's license, permanent residence status or bank statement 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?

Your aim as an interviewee is to portray the best possible version of yourself in order to secure that job position. Therefore, avoid bringing these items to a job interview:

  • Your mobile phone: Turning up to an interview with your phone or texting or speaking on the phone during the interview is highly unprofessional. Put your phone on silent and keep it in your bag.

  • Food or drink: Finish consuming any food or drink before you arrive and make sure your hands aren't sticky from food residue. Never chew gum during an interview.

  • Casual attire: Avoid leisurely clothes such as jeans, active wear, or leggings for a professional job interview. Arrive with a neat-looking appearance and ensure that your hair is pulled back from your face.

  • Lots of accessories: Remove hats or beanies before you enter the interview room. It's also recommended to minimise facial jewellery, for example 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: How to Calm Your Nerves Before an Interview (With Tips)

What are three things you should bring to an interview?

Once you've scheduled a job interview, it's time to create a checklist of items to bring. Try to 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 other necessary items to bring to an interview:

1. Notebook and pen

Take notes on fundamental details related to the position, such as the starting salary and working schedule. Write down key questions your interviewers ask or any important insights they share. Not only does this make you come across as enthusiastic about the role, but you can use the notes you jot down during the interview later in a follow-up email.

Related: Follow-Up Email Examples for After the Interview

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. If you're travelling via public transport, allow additional time for delays and unexpected cancellations. Consider making a backup plan or catching transport with an earlier departure time. If you're driving, make sure you enquire about 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 so that you can prepare for questions you might be asked about your familiarity with the business or company you're interviewing for. Look into the company's core values and what it's trying to achieve. It's also worth checking out the company's history, noting any particular milestones and market knowledge you have that might be relevant. Compile 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 important, so dress like you're serious about the position. A neat, professional suit or a smart shirt and trouser combo should do the trick.

When it comes to the bag you bring to your interview, a classic leather briefcase or satchel promotes professionalism, as does a laptop bag - especially for roles based in an office. Leather tote bags that are free from tears and scuffs are also a great alternative.

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

1. Bring a suitably-sized bag

When selecting a bag to bring to your job interview, make sure it comfortably holds all your belongings. 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.

Related: What to Wear to an Interview as a Teenager (With Examples)

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, 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 while adapting the 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 attire.

Related: Your Guide to Business Casual Attire (With Examples)

6. Bring a professional bag

When considering what to bring to an interview, opting for a bag that's professional in nature like a briefcase is generally the way to go. Avoid bringing luggage carriers such as suitcases and holdalls as they don't 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, such as a sports coach or personal trainer. Finally, steer clear of fashion statement bags if you are attending a more conventional interview.

Related: Examples of Corporate Dress Code (Plus Corporate Scenarios)

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