What to Bring to a Job Interview

Bring copies of your resume and an ID at minimum. A notebook, portfolio and even mints can also help you feel prepared.
Cara Smith
By Cara Smith 
Edited by Amanda Derengowski

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Preparing for a job interview can feel like a job of its own. You have to learn about the company, reflect on your work experience and practice answering questions. Assembling everything you need to bring with you is also key to preparing.

The list below has pointers on what to bring and why. Several of the items aren’t essential to having a successful interview, but they can help to show your interviewers that you took the time to prepare. Bringing these items can also help you feel more comfortable and prepared, too, which will help you focus on the important stuff: clearly communicating why you’re a good fit for the role.

What should I bring to an interview?

If you’re interviewing in-person, especially, we recommend you bring the following items:

1. Several copies of your resume and cover letter.

Print around five copies of your resume and cover letter, and bring them in a folder that’ll keep them from getting wrinkled. Even if your interviewers already have copies of each, bringing physical copies shows that you made the extra effort to be prepared. And if another interviewer drops in, you’ll be glad to have extra copies to spare.

For phone or video interviews, have a printed copy of your resume and cover letter in front of you for your easy reference.

If you don’t have a printer or can’t print these documents at home, check out your local library, where you should be able to print pages for free, or for a small fee.

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2. Notebook and pen or pencil.

Take notes during your interview, and write down key information about the job, its responsibilities, any other important insights that your interviewers share, and your questions. It’ll help show that you’re engaged and focused on the conversation. Plus, taking notes will help you include specific details in your thank-you email to your interviewers.

3. Snack and a water bottle.

Pack a water bottle and a small snack, like a protein bar or a banana. Don’t pull out any snacks in the middle of an interview, though. Instead, think of it as a backup plan, in case your interview lasts longer than expected.

We recommend you eat a healthy meal a few hours before your interview. But don’t eat a large meal within an hour or so of your interview — you might become sleepy during the interview, or have to excuse yourself to the bathroom more than once.

4. Valid ID or driver's license.

It sounds basic, but some buildings require ID or a driver's license for entry, and you wouldn’t want an embarrassing holdup to interfere with your interview.

5. Mints or gum.

This one is self-explanatory — especially if you’re having coffee before the interview.

Other items you may want to bring to your interview

Depending on your job or industry, you may want to also prepare the following:

6. A portfolio of your work, such as creative samples or sales records.

Generally speaking, a portfolio can include your career objective or personal statement, a list of your licenses or accreditations, work samples, any awards or recognition, professional references and community service. If a portfolio is appropriate for your job, a quick online search for “portfolio + [your industry]” should help you assemble a winning portfolio. You only need one copy, though.

7. A list of references.

Similar to your resume and cover letter, bringing in a few copies of your references list — or even letters of recommendation, if they apply to your field — can show that you thoughtfully prepared for the interview. Be sure each person on the list or who writes a letter can clearly share how you’d benefit a team.

8. Business cards.

In some workplaces, business cards may not be widely used. But in industries like finance, law or politics, having a few business cards handy is a safe bet.

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