​What to Bring to an Interview

So let’s say you’ve done everything right so far:

  • You built up your CV by beefing up your skills, volunteering for industry events, and undergoing internship programs, whether paid or unpaid, for the experience;
  • You employed the services of a career counselor to suss out your hard skills and your soft skills, your strengths and your weaknesses, your personality traits and your objectives in your overall career path;
  • You chose specific jobs to apply for, maybe even brought your CV and credentials to a headhunter and asked if they had any job positions for someone with your skills and experience;
  • You, or a professional writer, wrote out cover letters for each job you applied to, with clear and succinct paragraphs on why you were writing, why you were an ideal candidate for the position, and thanking the recruiter for their time and consideration;
  • You or your professional writer customized your CV for each job you applied to, highlighting skills and creating mental bridges for the recruiter to conclude that on paper you looked good, perhaps you should be brought in for an interview.

You were called in for an interview. Hooray! Getting through the stringent screening process of recruitment is cause for a little celebration. Now you have another hurdle to face, and it pays to know what tools you need to do so to your best ability. So what should you bring to your interview?

Your watch

Figuratively speaking, your watch is the most important thing you can bring with you to your interview. If you don’t have a watch worth wearing, make sure your phone is charged and showing the correct time, so you wake up early and show up at least half an hour before your interview.

The actual timepiece is unimportant, but the fact that you go out of your way to be early to your interview says a lot about who you are as a person and what kind of employee you will be. Showing up early says you’re here to get down to business, that you see how important this interview is, and you want to be there even if you’re just sitting in the lobby reading. Put your phone away though, because it can come off as a bit rude even if you’re reading something relevant to the job on your phone. If they have any magazines or reading material, browse through those. If not, just sit patiently. Looking at your phone can make you look like you’re distracted or not mentally present.

Some recruiters and HR practitioners dislike it when applicants show up early because it makes them feel pressured into seeing to them before their timeslots; in those cases, try not to be a bother while waiting for your interview time, and maybe consider not working for a company whose recruiters appear unprepared or irritated when they meet you for the first time.

Your CV

One of the most common mistakes that new applicants make is not to bring their own copy of their CVs. Why bother, when it was your CV that landed you the interview in the first place? Shouldn’t the company have it on file or on hand for your interview?

Well, yes, the company certainly should. But you as an applicant are not in any position to be having expectations of the recruiter or the company. Assume that you are walking in out of the cold and being prepared with your CV is better than sheepishly saying, “I didn’t bring a CV because I sent it to your email already.”

Also, when it comes to expounding upon your CV, it is infinitely easier to do so when you aren’t leaning forward to peer at the resume you sent. Having your own copy is also helpful if you’re a little shy because it gives you something to hold onto and not worry so much about answering anything wrong.

Your smile

This sounds like a cliché, but smiling at people is generally proven to make them more at ease with you. Your recruiter will likely be smiling at you. There’s no harm in smiling back, even if you’re really nervous. In fact, you can share that anxiety with them and see their smiles possibly even widen. If you open up about yourself, who you are, how you do things, and if you’re sincere, odds are that the recruiter will know if you’re a good fit or not for the position you’re applying for – much faster than if you stay rigid and distant, even if you think it makes you seem professional.

Your shoes

Your shoes say a lot about you. New shoes? Do they look expensive? Do they look sensible? Do they have the little sticker on the bottom that you forgot to take out when you got them? Old shoes? Are they very worn? Do they look comfortable? Are they appropriate for an interview?

Pretty much everything you wear to an interview broadcasts something about who you are as a person, from your financial circumstance to your personality. Be sure choose things that are not too loud or attention-grabbing, you’re not trying to look like you stepped out of a photoshoot. Be sensible but not too formal in your clothing choices, and favour lighter colours so you look fresh. Provide your recruiter with a better understanding of you not just by what you say, but by how you comport yourself.

Most of all, you should bring yourself to your interview. Your actual and honest self. Of course, since you’re trying to land a job, don’t be mopey and fatalistic – but be realistic about what you can and cannot do, what you will and will not do, what you can contribute and what you expect from the job and the company as a whole. Act natural, don’t try too hard to be something you’re not and don’t worry too much about getting the job. Be present in the interview so you can answer questions better, field concerns with ease, and provide a clearer view of who you are as an applicant and a candidate. Take the opportunity to make the most out of the interview, you may even enjoy it after a while. And who knows, you may even land a job once you open up about yourself.

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