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6 things to take to an interview (and 5 to leave at home)

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To bring your A-game to an interview, it’s all about preparation.  

Having the things you need with you is a way to help you feel calm and in control - and persuade your interviewer that you’re the right person for the job. 

Here are the things we tell candidates to make sure they take with them - and some to definitely leave    at home. 

What to bring... 

1: An A4 notebook 

You’ll need something to keep essential paperwork in, and opting for A4 size means that sheets don’t have to be folded in half. 

As for the notebook cover, it’s best to think plain colour instead of quirky design - even though that’s not the most exciting choice. After all, who doesn’t love an inspirational slogan or uplifting quote? But don’t give the interviewer any reason to see you as anything less than 100% professional. 

2: Printouts of your CV 

The interviewer should have a copy of your CV but make things simple for them by having an extra copy in case they can’t find it. 

Having your own copy, too, makes it easy to refer to key dates and facts that you want to highlight during your meeting. 

3: Examples of your work 

Depending on the industry you’re in and the role you’re going for, you might need to take some examples of your work.  

Being able to show actual printouts backs up how you describe your achievements and accomplishments in another role. And as we tell the candidates we help into roles via HR GO, it can be a quick reminder of positive points you want to cover. 

4: Questions written down 

With any luck you’ll have thought up some pertinent questions to ask at the end of your interview (and remember to read our warnings on what not to ask, too). 

Stressful situations like interviews tend to make even the most reliable memory wobble, so have a back up by writing them in your notebook instead. 

5: Printed directions 

Google Maps and Citymapper are handy apps to help you navigate your way to the interview. 

But savvy candidates know not to rely on tech, just in case. So it’s a good idea to keep a sheet of printed directions to hand. 

6: Two pens 

You’ve got the notepad, but don’t forget the pen - plus a spare.  
 
Being able to jot notes down is helpful during your interview if you want to go back to something. But having a pen and pad to hand serves an extra purpose - to show you as an organised and prepared candidate. 

And what to leave at home... 

1: Laptop 

Yes, a laptop can be handy for taking notes or referring to points you want to make. But leave it at home unless it’s relevant to the role and industry you’re going for, or you’ve been asked to do a presentation as part of the recruitment process. 

The screen can act as a barrier between you and your interviewer, at a time when you want to appear open and approachable. 

 2: Takeaway coffee 

Do you like to grab a caffeine hit on your way to an interview? Make sure you finish your coffee - and recycle the cup - before you enter the building.  

Coffee can be smelly, the cup can look dirty and there’s always the risk you might spill it - none of which are good for a face-to-face meeting.  

The only drink you want to be seen with is a bottle of water (preferably reusable).  

4: Shopping bags 

Your would-be workplace might well be located near some good shops - or you arrived in the area 30 minutes early and were able to grab something for tonight’s dinner in the supermarket.  

Our advice though is not to bring shopping bags along with you to an interview. Not only does it look unprofessional and chaotic, but also gives the impression that you’re not 100% focused on the task in hand. 

If you need to bring extra luggage, call ahead and ask if you can keep it at reception. 

5: Your parents 

Some employers actually report that they’ve seen parents coming to an interview with their child. Yes, really! 

Now, these people might be your biggest fans. They may have been encouraging you to do your best since, well, forever.  

But clearly if you show up with your mum or dad in tow - even into reception - there’s a good chance you’ll blow your job offer chances 

f you need a confidence boost that doesn’t involve a pep talk from close relatives, check out our tips on things to do five minutes before your job interview instead. 

Need more interview pointers? 

We’ve done an at-a-glance guide on how to nail an interview, here. Good luck! 

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