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What to Take to a Job Interview (And What to Leave at Home) + Bonus Infographic

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A successful job interview requires a lot of preparation. You need to prepare what to wear, what to say, and even what to bring with you.

To make the preparation a little easier, here are our top tips on what you should take to your next job interview, as well as a few things that you shouldn’t.

What to Take:

1. Directions

Arriving at the right place at the right time is a crucial part of any interview. You should aim to arrive 10 -15 mins early, so it is important that you know exactly how to get there.

You might want to take a screenshot of the directions on your phone or even print out a copy of the directions. It’s also important to bring the contact details of the interviewer so you can reach them in case of an emergency.

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2. A Bottle of Water

You might be offered something to drink in your interview, but it never hurts to bring your own bottle of water just in case- though make sure to ask if your interviewer beforehand. Interview nerves can often cause a dry throat, so having a bottle of water will help this.

Taking a sip of water can also buy you some thinking time on a tricky question. Having a minute to compose yourself if you feel flustered could prove invaluable.

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3. Notepad and Pen

Bringing a notepad and pen to you interview can have multiple benefits.While you shouldn’t simply read off your notes, having some key points written down might help you feel calmer.

Firstly, you can jot down anything important which might come up during the interview, such as details about the position or anything you need to remember about the rest of the recruitment process.

If you are attending a group interview or assessment centre, you may be asked to do an exercise or activity.

Having a notepad and pen could come in useful in this situation. A notepad is also helpful for taking in any important notes you’ve prepared beforehand, such as questions to ask.

However, your notebook should only be used to take down the essential details. Eye contact is one of the most important elements of any interview so make sure that you are looking at your interviewers and not your notebook!

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4. Copies of Your CV

It’s important that you are able to comfortably talk about your experience, qualifications and skills in your interview without any aids.

However, it might happen that your interviewer does not have a copy of your CV. In this situation, taking extra copies allows you to show your interviewer that you are organised and proactive. How many extras copies of your CV should you bring? Four copies should be plenty so that if there are multiple people you can give them a copy each.

If you didn’t submit a CV as part of the application process, bring along some copies to give to the interviewer(s) for reference. If you were required to submit an application, also bring copies of your completed form in case the interviewer does not have it to hand.

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5. Examples of Your Work

This is particularly important if you are interviewing for a position which involves creating visuals or writing content.

Putting together a portfolio of your best work which will help set you apart from other potential candidates as you are providing tangible evidence of your skills.

If the position you are applying for doesn’t call for physical evidence of your work or you aren’t able to provide any easily, make sure that you have prepared examples of your skills and accomplishments to tell your interviewers. Our guide on preparing for a competency-based interview can help with this.

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6. Important Documents

Check carefully to see if you have been requested to bring any specific documents with you to the interview, such as a photo ID, your passport or evidence of your right to work in the UK.

Bring the original documents as well as photocopies to leave behind.

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7. Questions

While you may think that your only role in the interview is to answer questions, asking great questions could improve your chances of landing the job.

Having two or three questions prepared in advance can help demonstrate that you’ve done your research about the company and the role, and that you are passionate about the opportunity.

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8. A Smile and Enthusiasm

Ultimately, the most important part of any interview is you!

Create a positive impression by smiling and showing enthusiasm for the role and the company. This will help you come across as friendly, personable and engaged.

Taking these things to your next interview will help you show that you are organised and will keep you feeling in control during the interview.

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What not to take to a job interview

There are some things that will not work in your favour if you take them to your next interview. Here are a few main ones:

1. Your Phone

There is nothing wrong with having your phone with you, just make sure it is turned off! There is nothing more distracting than hearing a phone ring during an important conversation.

Keep your phone turned off - ideally before you enter the building - and hidden away in your bag or pocket.

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2. Food and Drink

It’s important to be fed and watered before the interview but only take a bottle of water into the interview with you.

Don’t bring in your takeaway coffee, or even worse, your lunch! It will be distracting and may leave the interviewer with a negative impression.

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3. Your Shopping

Unfortunately, turning up with shopping bags will not impress your interviewer. Leave them in your car if possible or leave shopping until after the interview.

Hopefully, you now feel more confident in what you should take to your next job interview. We recommend you bring these things in a smart folder or bag, so you can have everything organised in a neat and orderly fashion.

Of course, this list is not exhaustive, there are other things you might like to bring or will be asked to bring with you, but this list is a good start to make sure that you are thoroughly prepared for interview success.

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Bonus infographic

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Jack Anderson
Associate Consultant – Financial & Professional Services
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