What to Do If You Forgot to Bring Your Resume to an Interview

Updated 11 March 2023

Although the primary function of a resume is to secure an interview for a candidate, it's still good practice to bring printed copies to an interview. Sometimes nerves or time pressure can result in a candidate arriving for an interview without printed resumes. Knowing what to do in this situation can help you manage the issue and continue with the interview. In this article, we discuss what you can do if you forgot to bring a resume to an interview and answer some frequently asked questions regarding resumes and the interview process.

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What to do if you forgot to bring your resume to an interview

There are a few things you can do if you forgot to bring your resume to an interview, such as:

Admit that you don't have resume copies with you

Be upfront and admit to the interviewer that you didn't bring copies of your resume with you but that you can email it to them if necessary. Being honest with interviewers can show them you have a well-developed sense of accountability, which is usually a valued trait in an employee. Choosing not to make excuses but to own your errors shows an employer that you understand their expectations of interview candidates. Ensure you've backed up the latest version of your resume in a remotely accessible location for situations like this.

Related: How to Update Your Resume (With Template and Example)

Assess your options

Assess the situation before going in for your interview. Your options may include:

  • Finding out if copies are necessary: Some employers use an electronic copy or print their own copies before the interview. Others may review your resume beforehand and not refer to it during the interview, in which case forgetting copies won't be an issue.

  • Asking if you can have a printed copy: If your interview is in an office setting, you might be able to have someone print a few copies before going in. Consider asking human resources if they can assist you.

  • Getting copies on the way to the interview: There may be time for you to stop at a stationery shop or library to prepare a few copies before going to the interview. If possible, use a good quality paper and store the copies in a folder to protect them.

Take notes during the interview

Writing notes during the interview process helps to show that you're paying attention. It can be a sign of active listening and an indication you're processing their questions. Keeping notes may help you remember details that you'd like to expand on or questions you may want to ask at the end of the meeting. You can also write down any information the interviewer shares about the position you're interviewing for so that you can refer back to it later.

Send a post-interview follow-up email

It's good business practice to send a follow-up email after an interview. If you had forgotten your resume, this is an opportunity to share any relevant information from your resume that may not have come up in interview discussions. A follow-up email can also confirm your interest in the position.

Related: How to Prepare for a Job Interview

Why is it important to bring your resume to an interview?

While a resume's primary purpose is for an employer to assess you as a candidate and decide whether to interview you, during the actual interview, your resume serves other purposes, such as:

Revealing desirable qualities

Some interviewers may have a copy of your resume ready for the interview, while others may not. Bringing copies with you can show the interviewer more about you as a potential employee.

It can reveal desirable qualities, such as:

  • you're a responsible candidate who prepares ahead of time

  • you think proactively about the needs of your colleagues

  • you're organised in your work habits.

Guiding the interview

Many employers use a resume as a guide when they interview you. They may ask you to explain statements you made in your resume in greater detail. Use this as an opportunity to elaborate on the concise points on your resume and show your suitability for the position.

Providing information for additional interview panel members

At times, you may face a panel of interviewers who represent different departments of a business. Having extra copies of your resume to distribute can be an effective way of introducing yourself, as some members of the panel may not have had the opportunity to read it before the interview. Having a printed resume may help them better understand your capabilities and make you more memorable as a candidate.

Organising your thoughts

Having a resume with you when going to an interview can help you focus on the details of your education and skills that are most relevant to the job. While waiting to go in, read through your resume to refresh your memory. A quick scan through the key points, which you've set out in a clear, logical and ordered way, may help you remember important details during the interview. Scanning through your resume before your interview may help you focus on the experiences and skills that are most relevant to the job you're applying for.

Related: What to Bring to an Interview

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FAQ about resumes and interviews

Here are some commonly asked questions about the role of a resume in the interview process:

Does forgetting my resume mean I won't get the job?

While not having copies of your resume with you may be less than ideal for some interviewers, it may not prevent you from having a successful interview. If you're proactive at rectifying the issue, for example, providing detailed answers, you could eliminate the need for a resume. Managing the situation well shows the interviewer your problem-solving abilities and a commitment to finding solutions. If you can stay calm, it may also show the employer how you react to challenges and that you can face them with composure and poise.

Can I look at my resume during an interview?

It's a good idea to read through your resume before your interview so that the information is fresh in your mind.

Not referring to your resume during an interview can help to show that:

  • you're confident in your abilities and knowledge.

  • you know yourself well and have assessed your suitability for the position.

  • you have a good understanding of what you can offer the organisation.

How many copies of my resume can I bring?

There's no rule concerning how many copies of your resume you can bring with you to an interview but consider taking between two and five. If your interview is with a large corporation, your interview may be with a panel of company representatives. In such a case, having multiple copies may be beneficial. It's better to be ready for whatever interview situation you may face.

Do interviewers always refer to resumes?

An interviewer won't always refer to your resume. Some interviewers may use your resume as part of the interview process and refer to sections on your training or previous work history. Other interviewers may have reviewed your resume, made notes beforehand and might not look at it during the interview. Going to an interview with copies of your resume helps prepare you for whatever the interviewer may need.

When is the best time to give the interviewer copies of my resume?

As you walk in for your interview, you can greet the interviewer and introduce yourself. Straight after that is a natural time to offer copies of your resume. For example, you can say something like, ‘I have hard copies of my resume if you'd like one.’

Does special paper give my resume an advantage?

Aiming for a resume that looks professional is a good way to promote yourself to an interviewer. To achieve this, consider printing your resume on slightly heavier paper and opt for neutral colours such as white, ivory or cream. Consider having them bound and keep them in a folder to prevent buckling or other damage.

How important is a resume at a walk-in interview?

Copies of your resume are very important if you're attending a walk-in interview. Unlike a traditional interview, an open interview doesn't give the employer time to read through your resume before you meet them. They don't get to familiarise themselves with who you are and what you can do before you sit down in front of them. To make a good first impression, ensure your resume is error-free, well laid-out and as neat as possible. Dress in professional attire, carry multiple copies of your resume and be confident in your abilities and what you can offer the organisation.

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