Ten Things to Bring to Your Job Interview (and the Bags to Bring Them In)

You’ve got the interview.

You’ve researched the company and pored over the job description.

You’ve prepared your answers to those dreaded “Why should I hire you?” and “Tell me about yourself” questions.

You’ve found the perfect outfit.

Now all you need to do is put together what to bring on the actual day of the interview.

Having been on both sides of the interview table, I’ve had a chance to build and refine my list of essential interview items.

Planning it out ahead of time can help you keep stress to a minimum – very important on job interview day!

Here are the ten key things you should bring with you to any job interview:

  1. Résumé – Don’t assume your interviewer has a copy. Also, you may be asked to fill out a job application where you’re duplicating information on your résumé, so it’s good to have it at the ready.
  2. References – Print out a list of your references and double check your info beforehand. Because if your résumé says you’re “detail oriented” and the number you listed for your last employer is out of service – you see where I’m going with this.
  3. Notes – Prepare a couple of cue cards before your interview with the directions, address and phone number of the company and the questions you’re thinking of asking your interviewer. The directions will get you there and the questions will give you something to focus on while you wait for the interview to start.
  4. Umbrella – The weather (especially these days) is fickle. It may turn on you and ruin your perfect, professional coif. Be ready.
  5. Handkerchief – It might be cold out, making your nose run. You might be allergic to the flowers at the reception desk. Your palms might get sweaty. A nice cotton hanky can help you take care of these issues. You don’t want to be remembered as Sniffly McMoistHands.
  6. Mirror – It’s not vain to check your teeth for seeds, your face for stray eye lashes and your hair for windblown craziness before heading in to meet a prospective employer.
  7. Mints – Fresh breath always makes a good first impression. Chewing gum – not so much, especially if you remember it at the last minute, swallow it, choke on it, do the ugly cough and talk funny for the rest of your interview.
  8. Lipstick or gloss – Interviews are nerve-wracking, but biting or licking your lips as a nervous habit makes you look shifty. Wear a little gloss or lipstick to help keep you from chewing your lips off during your interview.
  9. Tide Pen or Shout Wipes – It’s a well-known fact that stains are attracted to nice interview clothes. These little stain removers are great for last minute fixes.
  10. Cellphone – Some articles suggest leaving the cellphone at home, but I say that’s madness. Even the best directions can sometimes get you lost or some other crazy thing could happen on your way to your interview. You want to be able to call and let them know if (God forbid) you’re going to be late. Just remember to turn the phone off when you get there.

The final thing to consider, of course, is what bag you’re going to bring with you to carry all of these things. You want a briefcase or portfolio big enough to hold your résumé without folding it and with pockets to keep your interview essentials handy.

You also want to stick with a simple, classic look that goes well with your interview outfit(s).

Here’s a short list of women’s briefcases, business cases and laptop bags from CareerBags.com that both look professional and won’t break the bank.

Crafted from durable nylon twill, this olive and bronze bag is not only gorgeous and unusual, it’s incredibly resilient, dirt, stain and water resistant, and lightweight. The zippers are self-repairing nylon coil and are extra strong on all main openings, making you look smooth when you slide it open to pull out your résumé. It also features an interior zippered security pocket for all your smaller items.

The tote is big enough to carry a laptop (if you get a separate laptop sleeve) and is great for everyday use or as a travel tote. All DVF RUNWAY hardware is elegantly fitted in a chrome finish and the interiors are fully lined in DVF’s signature pattern.

The Mina bag is a departure from the “man bag” that everyone carries. Featuring a unique quilted design with iridescent sequin accents, Mina is the perfect alternative to the typical black nylon bag. The Mina Laptop Tote also comes in white, if you’re feeling daring. It’s one of our bestsellers and comes with its own cute mirror – one less thing for you to remember on interview day.

The Mina is made from durable, water repellant nylon and features both inside pockets for your everyday and interview essentials, plus a large easy access back pocket for your résumé and references.

The Amy Laptop Tote by JoJo comes in gorgeous Light Brown (see left) and  Black. The bag is professionally styled with convention in mind – it has a simple, classic interview look sure to go with any ensemble.

The Amy is made of lightweight, washable canvas and has lots of inner pockets for all your interview necessities. It also has a large centre compartment for files and notebooks, as well as a separate laptop compartment.

The Milano is such a stylish, elegant bag. Its unusual shape, faux-croc finish and silver buckles make it stand out – way out – from the basic black business case. If you’re looking to make even more of a splash, the Milano Laptop Case also comes in blue.

The Milano is lined with soft poly-suede material and features a detachable accessory/cosmetics wristlet, plenty of room for your résumé and files, Mobile Edge’s exclusive Wireless Security PocketTM, and additional pockets for your other interview essentials.

A lot of planning and preparation goes into applying for a new job. The right business case – with your interview essentials inside – will help you look make the most of every opportunity (and keep you looking stylish on your way to the top!)

Other Job Interview Resources

Job Interview Preparation Tips:

  • Job Interview Tips from Adecco
  • Interview Tips from the US Department of Labor
  • Job Interview Tips from InterviewTips.org

Dressing for Success (no velour tracksuits):

  • CollegeGrad.com’s Dressing for Interview Success
  • Expert Village on How to Dress for an Interview (video)
  • YourCareerChange.com’s tips on How to Dress for a Job Interview

Interview Horror Stories (laugh AND learn!):

  • 10 Interview Horror Stories from RedCanary.ca
  • Interview Horror Stories from the Washingtonian.com
  • Six Job Hunter Horror Stories from CareerBuilderUK