10 Items to Bring to an Onsite Interview
You're here! You did it! You likely passed the ATS (applicant tracking system) and a phone screen (or two) to land an onsite interview (assuming this is the next step in this company's process). You're mentally prepared, you've gone through your interview prep check list, and this is your time to shine.
You arrive at the interview and realize you left your list of questions at home, along with your pen and paper. Or, even worse, you left your resume at home! Don't let this be you. Set out your items the night before and cross check the morning of to ensure you have everything in place to reduce stress and be ready for whatever the interviewers may throw at you!
Here are our top recommendations for items to bring to an interview to ensure you are prepared and are able to provide resources, should it be necessary:
- Copies of your resume. I know numerous candidates that have sat down at
the interview table and the manager either a) doesn't have their resume
or b) has the wrong resume. To avoid these awkward situations, ensure you have
at least 5 copies of your resume on hand, or enough copies based on the number
of people the Recruiter told you that you would be meeting with. Not to mention,
interviewers will often grab co-workers last minute to join the interview! You
want everyone in the room to have a copy of your resume.
- Job description. This is especially important if you still have questions
around day-to-day responsibilities, goals and overall expectations. Job descriptions
are often not customized to the job at hand, and if you're sitting in
front of the hiring manager, this is your opportunity to verify what is actually
going to be required of you.
Bonus Resource: In our Tip Interview Prep: A Roadmap for Dissecting Job Descriptions, we highlight five key questions to ask the hiring manager during an interview to gain a clearer picture of job duties and expectations.
- Talking points. Prior to presentations, I am a big fan of writing down talking
points and reviewing them multiple times prior to the call and/or meeting. The
same idea applies to an interview. I'm sure there are career highlights
and applicable skills/technologies/tools/experiences that you want to share
during an interview. Should the interview take a different route, it's
nice to have those talking points available so you don't forget to mention
them and it gives you the opportunity to gear the conversations back towards
what you bring to the table and how you'll add value to the manager, team,
project, client, etc.
Recommended Exercise: As part of your interview preparation, review the job description the night before again, and write out your relevant key qualifications and project/responsibility highlights.
- List of questions. Never come to an interview with no questions to ask.
Trust us on this one. We've had multiple managers (us included as we have
been in a hiring manager capacity) who have been extremely disappointed and,
in some cases, have passed on candidates because they didn't have a single
question to ask. Having questions to ask shows interest, initiative, and that
you did your homework! Not to mention, we spend the majority of our time at
work, so want to ensure all of our questions about a new job are answered!
- Recommendations/references. Always bring a copy of your recommendations
and/or references. This is an easy way to cement your credibility and a great
parting gift at the end of your interview. If you don't have any recommendations
to share, start thinking of 2-3 people now that you could ask for one. Ideally
individuals that managed or mentored you and can speak to your technical ability
(or whatever the role is highlighting).
LinkedIn Recommendations: Continuously collecting recommendations is an excellent practice for your career, and very helpful for any job search! They can provide excellent testimonials of your work that many other applicants/interviewees might not provide. Remember that you can go to your profile and download your LinkedIn recommendations as a PDF to bring with you to the interview, or provide in a follow up thank you after the interview!
- Work samples, portfolio, etc. We recommend offering additional candidate
ammo". This is anything and everything that further demonstrates your
qualifications and differentiates you as a candidate. Options may include: code
sample(s), URLs to personal websites, GitHub projects, samples of non-proprietary
work, technical assessments or coding challenge results, etc. There are many
options here, but the goal is to never sell yourself short! Showcase items that
validate your skills and qualifications.
Bonus Tip: Most staffing firms have access to technical assessments via a ProveIt, Brainbench or other provider. We believe taking extra measures like taking relevant technical assessments, which on average take 15-60 minutes to complete, is great for interview preparation on top of having something "extra" to provide the Recruiter and hiring Manager to potentially validate your skills! Therefore, ask Recruiters "Do you have any technical assessments you could send me around ____ technology?"
- Portfolio or folder. We added this here because it's important to
have something to organize your documents, and something that looks professional.
Being disorganized can be a big turnoff for hiring managers, so ensure that
you have a padfolio, portfolio, or folder to keep your items in place!
- Notepad and pen. This goes along with #7, but don't find yourself
in a situation where you have nothing to write with! The expectation, in most
interviews, is that you are taking notes and jotting down further questions
you want to ask throughout. Taking notes also communicates your interest in
a role! Plus, you want to be able to check off any questions already answered
and/or write a note to remember to bring something up (specific experience,
use of a technology, etc.).
- Business cards. Business cards isn't necessarily a best practice,
but if you have one, bring it. A business card is another fantastic opportunity
to include a 3-5 second professional tagline, your LinkedIn URL, as well as
any other personal sites that you may wish to highlight. And hopefully the manager
will exchange theirs with you, so you are able to have their information to
follow-up with a thank you note!
We've seen some really clever professional business cards over the years with great taglines, such as:
- Reporting Specialist – "Seasoned BI Specialist here to help you visualize your data in the most effective way!"
- Project Manager – "A Senior Technical Project Manager to make your project dreams a reality, on time and within budget!"
- Interview information. This may very well be the most important! Interview information may include: names and titles of those you're interviewing with, interview schedule, company address, directions, etc. A lot of candidates will drive the route the day/week before an interview to check the commute time factoring in traffic/rush hour, check out parking options, and ensure they have the correct building. Anything to reduce stress the day of!
Interviewing is stressful. We hope this list of items to bring will aid in your preparation and minimize some of that stress! Use the above as a Checklist to bring what you need to any onsite interview, and to help you stay organized.
Bonus Resources: Additionally, we have almost 30 Tips dedicated to the topic of Interviewing. Here are some of our favorites to check out:
- An Effective Resume vs. Job Description Review for Interview Prep
- Recommended Pre-Interview Reflection and Strategy Exercise
- 5 Key Content Areas to Focus on During Interview Preparation
- 5 Questions for Role Clarification During Interviews
- 7 Ways to Prepare for a Technical Interview
- Addressing and Dealing with Conflict Interview Question
- Things to do at an interview to get hired
- 10 Questions to ask a Recruiter Before You Interview
About the author
View all my tips