Pull it all together
It bears repeating that you should not wait until you have an interview scheduled to practice and prepare for an interview. To do your best, you will want to read interview articles, write answers to popular questions, practice them, and prepare an interview kit.
If you are job searching while working you will want to actually have everything you need with you – just in case you get a last minute chance to interview. You will want to be prepared to wow the employer!
Let’s start with your resume. You will want a short and a long version with you for the interview. The “short” version is the one you used to “hook” the employer. Think of it as your sales sheet, since it highlights your skills, abilities, experiences, education, etc.
You should also bring a longer version with complete dates of employment in case you are asked to complete an application or other paperwork. Detail your accomplishments for each job using the STAR method as a guide (see Interviewing nuts and bolts tip #1).
Bring several copies of both (5 – 10). Interviewers often use your resume to interview from, so I like to recommend that you refer to your long version to expand on information from your shorter version.
It is ok to highlight or mark information that you plan to refer to, but be careful not to leave this copy with the potential employer! Store it in your portfolio in a separate area (left versus “clean” copies in right flap). Or, print yours on white and those to share on off white.
Bring copies of your important certifications or licenses. Some companies ask interviewees to complete a formal application as part of the interview process. Depending on your field, providing these accelerate the hiring process and/or impress the HR folks.
Related to your certifications or licenses is your documentation that shows you are eligible to work in the United States. A passport is easiest, but a driver’s license and social security card or birth certificate will do. Bring the originals – copies will not be sufficient.
Make sure your cell phone and tablet are fully charged and that you have a portable charger with you, especially if you are working and building a mobile interview kit. Be sure the sound is turned off on both devices before the interview.
If you are planning to use your tablet to interview from instead of paper, be sure you practice this way. You must be extremely comfortable with your tablet and using it in meetings to do this effectively. In general, I do not recommend this. Paper is simpler and less can go wrong. Additionally, the interviewer may not be as tech-savvy and may not wholly approve.
Bring at least two pens and a clean notebook with you. It is fine if you have some notes for the interview on one or two pages, but you don’t want to use your notebook from one of your college classes or one that you use regularly for department meetings. You want to look sharp!
Many interviewees do not think about it, but bring a bottle of water and a bag of nuts with you. This is especially true if you are building a mobile interview kit. If you skip lunch to interview you will be especially thankful to have these items in your kit!
Even if you are unemployed and don’t need a mobile interview kit, you do not want your stomach growling during an interview or lose energy half way through! The nuts will help and the water will keep you hydrated. Your brain cells need water to operate correctly.
Consider keeping a full interview outfit ready to go in your mobile interview kit. Something that is easy to wear and wrinkle resistant. Men, yes, you can keep a suit hanging in your car in a garment bag if necessary. If you are job searching at home, have the interview outfit picked out, tested and located where you can access it quickly and easily.
Mints before you go into the interview are also a good idea. Even if you don’t have bad breath, there is no need to worry about it – use the mint anyway. Listerine makes small, thin slivers of tissue paper breath fresheners you can buy at drug stores. These are great because they are not necessarily minty, but help to ensure you won’t knock someone out with your coffee breath!
In summary, gather all your items and keep them in one spot. If you are working, have an actual mobile interview kit ready to go in your car so you will be prepared for last minute invitations. The mobile interview kit concept can also be helpful to job seekers who are not working. Sometimes, when applying in person, you will luck into the opportunity to interview on the spot. You will want to be ready!
Mary Sherwood Sevinsky
Mary is a CAREER AND OCCUPATIONAL CONSULTANT who is masters-prepared and certified. She is a business owner with nearly 20 years of experience in Corporate Management, Career Assessment & Counseling and in writing Career Articles and Educational Materials.
She has worked as a CORPORATE MANAGER experienced in hiring, firing and managing a staff of professionals with a multimillion dollar budget. She enjoys WRITING AND EDITING and has spent many years developing Marketing Materials and Presentations, Writing Proposals and Plans, and Conducting Staff Development Sessions in addition to working as a vocational consultant. Learn more about Mary and her services: www.life-works.info.