What To Bring To A Job Interview In 2024: Virtual And In-Person Interview

By Kris-Anita Enyinnaya


Interview Preparation

Kris-Anita Enyinnaya

Kris-Anita Enyinnaya

Writer & Career Coach

In today’s competitive job market, being well-prepared for a job interview is crucial. Along with dressing appropriately and researching the company, knowing what to bring to an interview can greatly enhance your chances of success.

This article will discuss the essential items to bring for both in-person and virtual job interviews in 2023, highlighting the importance of being organized and professional throughout the process.

What To Bring To An In-Person Job Interview

When attending an in-person job interview, it is essential to bring certain items that will help you present yourself in the best possible light. Here are the key things to consider:

1. Interview Documents

Before heading to the interview, ensure you have copies of your resume, references, and any other supporting documents that might be relevant to the position. Keep them organized and easily accessible in a neat folder or portfolio. This will allow you to refer to them when needed and provide copies to the interviewer if required.

Bring multiple copies of your updated resume, neatly printed on quality paper. It is wise to have extra copies to provide to additional interviewers or if your interviewer requests an additional copy.  Prepare a list of professional references, including their contact information. Print this list and carry it along to share if the interviewer asks for it.

Carry a valid form of identification, such as your driver’s license or passport. This may be required for security purposes or to complete any necessary paperwork. If applicable to your field, bring a well-organized portfolio showcasing your work samples, certifications, or any relevant documents that support your qualification

2. Professional Bag, Tote, or Suitcase

Carrying a professional bag, tote, or suitcase is not only practical but also adds to your overall professional appearance. Choose a bag that is appropriate for the occasion, avoiding overly casual or flashy options.

Also, choose a bag that complements your overall attire and aligns with the company’s culture. It’s advisable to avoid bags with loud patterns or colors that might distract attention from your qualifications.

It should be large enough to hold your resume copies, portfolio, and any additional materials without causing them to become creased or wrinkled. However, ensure that the bag is not excessively bulky or cumbersome to carry. Ideally, the bag should have a designated section for important documents, a secure compartment for your electronic devices, and additional pockets for smaller essentials like pens, business cards, or USB drives.

3. Directions To The Interview And Hiring Manager’s Contact Info

To avoid any last-minute confusion or delays, it is crucial to have clear directions to the interview location. Make sure you have the contact information of the hiring manager or the person you will be meeting. This ensures that you can easily reach out in case of any unforeseen circumstances or if you need to notify them about any changes.

Here’s how to go about it: Before the interview day, research and familiarize yourself with the interview location. Take the time to identify the exact address, floor, and any specific instructions provided by the company. If the building has multiple entrances, find out which one you should use and where to park, if applicable.

Next, plan your route using online maps or navigation tools. While digital navigation apps are convenient, it’s prudent to have a physical copy of clear directions to the interview location. Print or save the directions as a PDF on your phone or tablet to access them, even if you encounter connectivity issues. Having a backup plan ensures you can navigate confidently, regardless of technological hiccups.

Double-check the accuracy of the directions and take note of any landmarks or recognizable features that will aid in locating the building. If you are unfamiliar with the area, consider conducting a trial run to the interview location to familiarize yourself with the route.

When attending an in-person job interview, punctuality is crucial. Strive to strike a balance between arriving early and not being excessively early. Plan to arrive at the interview location approximately 10 to 15 minutes before the scheduled time. This allows you to mentally prepare for the interview without feeling rushed.

Finally, ensure you have the contact information of the hiring manager or the person you will be meeting. This will enable you to easily reach out in case of any unforeseen circumstances or if you need to notify them about any changes.

4. List of Questions to Ask

Preparing a list of unique and relevant questions to ask during the interview demonstrates your genuine interest in the position and the company. Jot down these questions in advance and bring them with you to the interview. Referencing your list when prompted shows that you have done your research and are engaged in the conversation.

You might want to inquire about the company’s core values and how they are demonstrated in the workplace. One way to do this is by reviewing the company’s website, social media presence, employee testimonials, and news articles.

Understanding the company culture can help you assess if it aligns with your work style and values. Ask about the team dynamics and collaborative opportunities within the organization. This will give you insights into the working environment and how teams operate together.

Seek clarification on the specific responsibilities and expectations of the role. Ask about the key challenges and opportunities associated with the position. Inquire about the company’s approach to innovation and staying ahead in a competitive industry. Understanding their strategic vision can provide insights into their commitment to growth and adaptability.

5. Pen and Paper/Notepad

Bringing a pen and paper or a notepad allows you to take notes during the interview. You may want to jot down key points, important information, or any questions that arise during the discussion. This demonstrates your attentiveness and helps you remember crucial details later.

More so, using a pen and paper or a notepad during an interview reflects positively on your professionalism and attention to detail. It showcases that you take the interview process seriously and are committed to being well-prepared. It also conveys an organized approach and an ability to handle and process information effectively.

Also, it provides a visual cue to the interviewer that you are actively engaged in the conversation and interested in what they have to say. It also serves as a physical prop that can help alleviate nervousness by providing you with something to hold onto and focus on during the interview.

6. Freshness Pack

Maintaining a fresh and professional appearance is essential during an in-person interview. Consider packing a freshness pack that includes mints or gum, appropriate attire adjustments, and deodorant. These small items can help you feel more confident and poised throughout the interview process.

Apart from mints, appropriate attire, and deodorant, it is crucial to pay attention to personal grooming before the interview. Ensure that your hair is neatly styled, nails are clean and trimmed, and facial hair (if applicable) is well-groomed. Avoid wearing heavy cologne or perfume, as strong scents can be distracting or cause discomfort to the interviewer.

What to Bring to a Virtual Interview

As virtual interviews continue to gain prominence, it is vital to adapt to this format and make the necessary preparations to ensure a smooth and successful experience.

1. Familiarize Yourself with the Interview Platform

To ensure you have a seamless virtual interview, it is important to familiarize yourself with the specific interview platform that will be used. Platforms such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom are commonly utilized for virtual interviews.

Take the time to explore the features and functionalities of the platform in advance. Familiarize yourself with options such as screen sharing, virtual backgrounds, and chat functions, as they may be relevant to your interview.  By being well-versed in the platform, you can navigate through the interview process with confidence and ease. This will help you avoid any technical difficulties during the interview.

2. A Fully Charged Device

To prevent unexpected disruptions, ensure that your device, ensure that your device is fully charged. Whether you are using a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, make sure it has sufficient battery life to sustain the duration of the interview.

A sudden battery drain during the interview can be disruptive and create an unprofessional impression. Charging your device in advance also demonstrates preparedness and attention to detail, reflecting positively on your candidacy.

3.  A Backup Plan

Technical malfunctions can occur unexpectedly, even with the most reliable devices and internet connections. It is essential to have a backup plan in place to handle such situations. Consider having an alternative device available, if possible, in case your primary device encounters issues.

Additionally, ensure you have a backup internet connection, such as a mobile hotspot or access to a nearby Wi-Fi network, to switch to in case of connectivity problems. By having a contingency plan, you can address technical difficulties swiftly and continue the interview smoothly, showcasing your adaptability and problem-solving skills. Communicate your backup plan to the interviewer

4. Updated Software

Before the virtual interview, ensure that all the necessary software is up to date on your device. Outdated software may lead to compatibility issues and hinder the smooth running of the interview platform.

Check for any available updates and install them beforehand to avoid any last-minute software disruptions. By staying updated, you minimize the risk of encountering technical difficulties and ensure a seamless interview experience.

5.  A Good Location

Selecting an appropriate location for your virtual interview is crucial for projecting professionalism and minimizing distractions. Choose a quiet and well-lit area in your home or any other suitable environment with privacy and minimal interruptions.

Ensure that the background is clean, organized, and free from any potentially distracting elements. A neutral backdrop or a virtual background that aligns with a professional setting can enhance your overall presentation. By selecting a suitable location, you create a focused and professional atmosphere that reflects positively on your candidacy.

6. List of Questions to Ask

Just like in an in-person interview, preparing a list of thoughtful and relevant questions is essential for a virtual interview. Research the company and the role beforehand to gather insights and formulate intelligent inquiries.

Asking well-thought-out questions demonstrates your enthusiasm, engagement, and critical thinking skills. It also provides an opportunity for you to gather valuable information about the company and the position, allowing you to make an informed decision if an offer is extended to you.

Seek information about the support systems in place for employees, such as performance evaluations, feedback mechanisms, or resources available to help you succeed in your role. Inquire about the team you’ll be working with and the reporting structure within the organization.

Understand who your direct supervisor would be and how your role fits into the larger organizational structure. Ask about the collaboration and communication methods used within the team or the company. This will give you an idea of how you will interact with colleagues and stakeholders.

What NOT to Bring to a Job Interview

While it is important to know what to bring to a job interview, it is equally important to be aware of items or distractions that should be left behind, whether it is virtual or completely in-person:

1. Phone (at least on silent)

Your mobile phone can be a significant distraction during an interview. To maintain your focus and show that you value the interviewer’s time, ensure that your phone is either turned off or set to silent mode before entering the interview room.

Constantly checking your phone or allowing it to ring during the interview is not only disruptive but also sends a message that you are not fully engaged or committed to the opportunity. Checking your phone during an interview is unprofessional and can convey a lack of interest.

2. Children

Job interviews require a focused and professional environment. It’s highly recommended not to bring children along to the interview. Arrange for childcare or other appropriate arrangements beforehand. It is important to make childcare arrangements beforehand to ensure a distraction-free environment during the interview.

Bringing children to an interview can be disruptive and may hinder your ability to concentrate and convey professionalism. While it may seem challenging to find alternative childcare arrangements, it is crucial to prioritize professionalism and create a distraction-free environment during the interview process.

Hiring managers expect your undivided attention and want to see that you can handle responsibilities without being encumbered by personal matters. Remember, your goal is to make a positive impression, showcase your qualifications, and convince the interviewer that you are the ideal candidate.

3. Pets

While your furry friend may be adorable and bring you comfort, they have no place in a job interview. Pets can be a source of distraction. They may become restless or act unpredictably, diverting your attention away from the interview questions and diminishing your ability to focus on the conversation. This lack of concentration could lead to missed cues or opportunities to highlight your qualifications effectively.

Furthermore, it is essential to consider the perception that bringing pets to an interview can create. While you may have a strong bond with your pet and view them as a source of comfort, not everyone shares this sentiment. Some interviewers may perceive the presence of a pet as unprofessional or indicative of a lack of commitment to the job opportunity

4. Food and Drinks

Eating or drinking during a job interview is generally discouraged. It can be distracting and may give the impression that you are not fully engaged in the conversation. If you need to have a snack or a drink for health reasons, make sure to consume them before or after the interview discreetly.

Additionally, accidental spills or food-related odors can be off-putting. It’s best to eat beforehand and avoid bringing any food or drinks into the interview setting.

While it’s generally recommended to avoid bringing drinks to an interview, an exception can be made for a small bottle of water if you anticipate needing hydration due to medical reasons. However, ensure that the water bottle is discreet, and take small sips if necessary, being mindful not to interrupt the flow of the conversation.

5. Strong Perfume

While it’s important to maintain good personal hygiene and smell pleasant, it’s advisable to avoid wearing strong perfume or cologne to a job interview. Scent preferences can vary among individuals, and some people may be sensitive or allergic to certain fragrances.

Strong perfume can give the impression of being unprofessional or inconsiderate. You want the focus to be on your skills and qualifications, not on your choice of fragrance.

Wearing strong perfume can distract the interviewer and hinder effective communication. It’s important to create an environment that promotes clear and focused conversation. Opt for a subtle or neutral scent, or consider skipping perfume altogether to create a comfortable environment for everyone involved.

Next steps

Preparing for a job interview involves more than just researching the company and practicing your responses to potential questions. Knowing what to bring and what to leave behind can significantly contribute to a successful interview experience. Remember, the goal is to present your qualifications and personality in the best possible light, and having the right items with you can help you achieve that goal.

Interview resources

Kris-Anita Enyinnaya

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