This article was written as a blog post for AptoZen, an Intrax company.
The Boy Scouts have a motto: “Be prepared!”
Ben Franklin warned: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Preparation for your job interview is vital, but it means more than a smart suit and great answers. By assembling your interview success kit in advance, you can be prepared for a flawless performance. Here’s your checklist:
Resume. Your interviewers will have already seen your resume, but there are still good reasons to bring a few clean copies. First, the copies you bring should be formatted and printed on quality paper. This gives you an additional chance to make a positive impression. The second reason is a little secret: Place a copy of your resume on the table in front of you, and you can use it to prompt answers to questions like, “Tell me a little about yourself.”
Portfolio. Not just for designers and photographers, a portfolio showing a few samples of your work will help bring your accomplishments to life. A great way to show off your work is on a tablet or iPad. Just be sure all your materials are accessible in one file. Your portfolio should show only your very best work. It should not contain any confidential or proprietary documents. This could cause your interviewer to question your judgement. Other items to leave home include anything with typos or grammatical errors, school work that’s less than A+, letters of recommendation, and copies of awards, certificates, diplomas, or grades.
Pen and Paper. It’s rare that you’d need to take notes during an interview, but remember, this article is about being prepared. An attractive padfolio can hold your resume, note paper, and a pen. It’s also where you can keep the list of questions you’ve prepared.
Breath mints, cough drops, tissues. Your goal is to plan for and eliminate distractions. Pop in one last breath mint before you arrive at your destination, but never never chew gum during an interview. Don’t even think about it. Do keep a cough drop and a couple tissues in your pocket or handbag, just in case. Nobody wants to see you wipe a runny nose on your sleeve.
Cell phone. Keep your phone with you, and be sure to use it if the worst happens and you end up running late. But when you get to the interview, turn it off and put it away. Do not put your phone on the table or fiddle with it during the interview. You have a very short amount of time to tell your story. Don’t let it be disrupted by a call, text, or alert.
Directions and Names. Make sure you’re clear exactly where you’re going, and how long it will take to get there. It’s better to ask ahead of time if there’s any chance for confusion. For example, the company may consist of several buildings on a “campus,” or HR might have a separate entrance. Also, have names and titles for the person who scheduled the interview as well as the people you’ll be meeting.
Photo ID. More and more companies are tightening security and being careful about who they allow to enter. You may be required to show a driver’s license to get a visitor’s badge for a secured building.
Just in Case. Being prepared, as Ben Franklin so eloquently reminds us, is about equipping yourself for anything that might go wrong. Because you want to look and be your best, consider stashing things like spare stockings, makeup, a hair brush, or a lint roller in your car for last minute touch-up.
Once you’ve assembled your success kit you’re ready to rock that interview. Put on your smile and your sense of humor and make us all proud. Take this advice from someone who’s changed stockings in a car in downtown San Francisco, shown up at a building on East Wilshire when the interview was on West Wilshire, and suffered a coughing fit so bad it was impossible to speak: Be prepared!