According to Glassdoor, the average corporate job posting elicits more than 250 applications. If your resume gets singled out of the hundreds and you're asked to come in for an interview, you know you need to take it seriously.
If you have an interview coming up, you're probably preparing your outfit, practicing questions, and perfecting your handshake. It's also a good idea to visualize yourself in the room and make sure you have all the right items with you.
If you want to hit a home run at your next interview, make sure you bring these five items along:
1. Copies of Your Resume
Print several copies of your resume using a high-quality laser printer on heavier paper. This will show you're invested in the job. Store the copies in a stiff folder or binder so they remain clean and crisp, reflecting positively on you.
Bringing several copies will show you were prepared for multiple interviewers, which is common for high-profile job interviews. The interviewers will likely have copies already, but it's always smart to carry extras.
2. Something to Write on and With
You never know when you'll need to write something down. Important phone numbers, addresses, and other information are often given out during an interview. Using your phone to take notes looks unprofessional, so bring something to write on and with. That way, you won't have to awkwardly ask if you can borrow a pen and paper from your interviewer.
3. Something to Carry Your Items In
Most of the time, you can carry a binder to hold your resume copies, some paper, and a pencil. This is highly recommended if you were instructed to dress casually; carrying a briefcase might make you appear overdressed.
In more professional interviews, men and women are encouraged to carry briefcases. Women can also carry a professional-looking purse, with a strong emphasis on professional. That means the purse should be neutral and nondescript in terms of color and style.
In fact, everything you bring should be professional. Leave ragged notepads, purses, and briefcases behind. They'll do nothing for your image.
4. A Brain Full of Knowledge
To begin with, you should be well versed on the company. If an interviewer asks you to recite the company mission statement, you should have it memorized or at least be able to describe the main points. You should also research recent news stories about the company and other relevant information you can use to your advantage in the interview.
5. Your Watch
Your watch will help you stay on time. Showing up late to an interview is one of the biggest no-nos in the whole hiring process.
"If someone shows up late for an interview with no excuse and no effort made to let me know they were running behind, I tell them I am no longer interested in interviewing them," writes Reddit-user tufted_wisdom in a thread entitled "Employers: What are some red flags when it comes to a potential hire?"
Most people use their smartphones to check the time these days. Since you should never pull out your cell phone during an interview, a watch will save you from an unprofessional misstep if you need to check the current time.
Twelve Things to Leave Behind
Perhaps just as important as bringing the right things to an interview is knowing what items not to bring.
Based on research from Workopolis, Yahoo News compiled a list of things that employers say candidates should never bring to an interview:
A bad attitude
Cell phones or other mobile devices that are turned on (even putting it on vibrate is not sufficient)
Other people (specifically, your mother)
Pets (dogs, cats, hamsters, etc.)
Products from a competitor (e.g., don't bring a Prada bag to an interview with Louis Vuitton)
Before you say it would be crazy for anyone to bring such items, recall that this list comes from real employers who have seen these things in job interviews!
Finally, in addition to bringing the right things to the interview, make sure you outfit is clean and pressed the night before, and be sure to get a good night's sleep! Preparation is key. Don't leave anything to chance.