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by Vault Careers | October 21, 2011


You’ve landed an interview, and you’re focused on learning as much about the company as you can, preparing an elevator pitch, and brainstorming answers to potential questions. All of these steps are important preparation for the big day and can go a long way in helping you feel comfortable during the interview. But don’t let your hard work go to waste by forgetting to prepare for the day itself—take some time the day before the interview and gather everything that you will need to bring with you. Below are some suggestions on interview must-haves.

1. Professional Attire

Leave your wrinkled shirt, scuffed shoes, and worn-out pants at home. You may not know what questions will be thrown at you, but you can certainly control the image that you project at the interview, and it should be one of professionalism and organization. Take time the night before your interview to select your outfit. When deciding between formal and casual, err on the side of formal—it is better to be overdressed than underdressed.

 2.  Copies of your resume and writing samples

You’ve already submitted your application materials to your prospective employer, but that doesn’t mean that each interviewer will have your resume and writing samples handy when you walk through the door. Perhaps the interviewers are seeing multiple candidates that day or just have extremely busy schedules. Show off your preparation skills by bringing extra copies of your resume and writing samples (keep them crisp by carrying them in a folder or binder). It’s a small gesture, but it may save your interviewer the hassle of finding and printing your resume from his or her inbox.

3.  References

As you embark on your job search, you should reach out to past supervisors and co-workers who can attest to your abilities and strengths. Some prospective employers will never seek out references from you, but others will, and they may request a list during your interview. Think one step ahead, and come prepared with your list of references.

 4.  A Pen and Pad

While it is doubtful that you’ll be handed a job on the spot and need a pen and pad to take down your first assignment, it wouldn’t be odd for your interviewer to request follow-up items from you or ask you to complete a mock assignment (e.g. a writing test). Bring your own pad and paper, and be ready to jot down any requests so that you can be sure to remember everything that was asked of you.

5.  The Ability to Name Drop

Your friend’s friend works at your prospective employer and said it would be perfectly fine if you floated her name during the interview. But was her name Jen or Jess? Figure it out before the interview. It’s great to have a link to the company but only if the link is correct.

6.  The Names and Bios of Your Interviewers

If the recruiter is willing to provide you with the names of your interviewers prior to your interview, you should take time to familiarize yourself with each interviewer’s education and work history. Go in to your interview armed with this knowledge, which will help you brainstorm questions to ask during the interview and provide you with some context for their questions.

7.  A Professional Bag

Who cares about what bag you carry into your interview? Maybe nobody, but maybe somebody.  You may be digging out your resume, references, and pen out of that bag, drawing attention to it. Carrying your beat-up college book bag may not be the best choice anymore. Invest in a professional briefcase or handbag that conveys that you are a professional, organized grown-up.

 8.  Mints

You’re on a job interview, not at a dentist appointment. But your interviewer doesn’t want to smell the everything bagel you chomped on this morning. Keep a package of mints in that professional bag of yours so that your breath is the least of your worries.

9.  Confidence

You can only prepare so much for an interview. Once you’ve gathered everything that you need on the interview day, researched the company and your interviewers, and practiced potential questions, the only thing left to bring is confidence in yourself and your potential with the company.

--Mary Kate Sheridan,


Filed Under: Interviewing|Job Search