One of the things I always look for with interest when a candidate first walks in the door for an interview is what items they are carrying. No, I’m not referring to purses or wallets, but rather what business-related items they bring.
Believe it or not, I’ve had otherwise well prepared candidates show up for interviews with nothing but themselves. That’s right – no notebook, no writing instrument, no anything! At best, this demonstrates a bit of arrogance and at worst, it gives the hiring manager the impression that you’re not serious about the job and you’re certainly not well prepared.
Here are the minimum basic items you should bring, no matter what type of position for which you are interviewing:
1. Two pens. Not one, but two – just in case one runs out of ink. I’m now going to share a little interview “black hat” trick with you. Bring one pen that is already out of ink or, better yet, is just starting to skip. The second pen you bring should be a brand new one that you have tested to be sure it works. Use the faulty pen first. Then, the first time you start to write something and it’s obvious you’re your pen isn’t working well, smoothly whip out your new pen and continue without missing a beat. You haven’t said a word but you’ve now conveyed the impression that you are organized and well prepared. The hiring manager will love it – believe me on this one!
2. Some sort of portfolio, not just a tablet of paper. It should contain a clean, new tablet and your writing instruments (two of them, remember?). Open it up as soon as you sit down, because you need to be sure to take some notes during your interview, particularly after you’ve asked a question. The point here is to send a subtle message to the Hiring Manager that you’re well prepared, serious and professional. It also shows that you’re interested in what the people on the hiring panel are saying. Make your notes brief and don’t attempt to write down everything.
3. Extra copies of your resume (in fact, you can put them in a pocket in your portfolio). It sometimes happens that an interview goes so well that the Hiring Manager wants you to meet some other people while you are there and you want to be sure to have copies of your resume to hand out. This is yet another opportunity to show how well prepared you are.
4. Extra copies of your references (for the same reason you bring extra copies of your resume).
5. Finally, an empty pocket or empty spot in your purse where you would normally carry your cell phone or smart phone. That’s right, leave them in the car. This totally eliminates the chance that your phone rings in the interview because you forgot to silence it. Believe me on this one also: a cell phone that rings during your interview will usually be the kiss of death, as it shows you’re either inconsiderate or careless. And having said that, I shouldn’t have to say this but I will (because I’ve actually had a candidate do it): never, ever answer your cell phone in an interview. You will be automatically dismissed as a candidate almost every time.
In my next post, I’ll discuss when you should arrive for your interview and the answer may surprise you!