Being asked to attend a job interview is a wonderful feeling. You’ve worked so hard on your job application that being able to present your case in person is a small victory.

But aside from sorting out your job interview outfit and preparing for the common questions, you need to bring a few things with you. The items will ensure your interview goes smoothly and they enhance your professional look. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to 11 of these things.

However, there are also things you don’t ever want to have with you when you enter the interview. The guide will also feature five things you definitely want to leave behind.


Let’s start with the things you want to bring to a job interview. There are actually two categories of things to bring to the job interview.

The first group is things you need to look professional and to be fully prepared for anything that might happen at the interview. These seven things will help your interview go as smoothly as possible.

1. A folder and/or briefcase

As you’ll see on this list, you can’t show up to your job interview empty-handed. In order to keep the next items on the list organized, you should have a small briefcase and a folder with you. The folder can be used for keeping your documents in order and it ensures they aren’t folded. If you get a folder with separate sections, you can also find your desired document easily during the interview.

A briefcase is a good professional touch and allows you to store all of your things. A small leather case can be the best – it looks timeless, goes with all sorts of interview looks and will have enough space to store your things.

2. Pen and notepad

The interview process can be a bit nerve wrecking. It’s important to take your time to answer the questions and a perfect help for this is having a notepad and a pen to scribble with. You can use it to write down the question or to note the words you want to use in your answer.

Furthermore, you might find information during the interview you need to write down. While the office where the interview is held will probably have paper and pens, it looks more professional if you bring your own. It tells the hiring manager you have attention to detail and you’re prepared for the interview.

3. A watch

You should never have your phone out during a job interview. But keeping track of time is important – you don’t want to make your answers too long or too short.

A traditional watch is the perfect solution. You will probably be able to see it without having to pull up your sleeve and can, therefore, just glance it to keep track of time.

4. The job description

Bringing a printed copy of the job description with you might seem strange but it can be an important item to help you prepare. You will end up sitting and waiting for your turn before the interview. With the job description in front of you, you are able to prepare for the actual interview.

You can remind yourself of the job qualifications and what the job entails. It helps you remember your own strengths and reasons for being the right person for the role.

5. Questions and talking points

You will also need to show up with talking points and questions in mind. Questions like “Do you have any questions?” are sure to come up at the interview. It’s important to prepare for these to ensure you nail down your interview.

In addition, you might even have things you want to clear with the hiring manager. Writing these down prior to the interview ensures you don’t forget about them during it.

6. Identification (passport or driver’s license)

It’s important to show up with a proof of identity. The potential employer might want to quickly check you are who you say you are. A passport, identity card or a driver’s license is usually sufficient.

7. A positive attitude

Always show up for a job interview with a positive attitude. This is your chance of getting your dream job and you don’t want to spoil it with the wrong attitude. Even if you end up making a small mistake or you need to take more time to think about things, a positive and friendly attitude leaves a good impression.

As much as hiring managers aim to make the decision based on your ability to perform in the role, your overall presence and attitude aren’t completely forgotten. The interviewer will make a judgment on your behavior – if you smile a lot, you are polite and considerate, and you stay positive throughout the process, then you will leave a good impression.

But then there are a few things you want to take with you and to leave behind after the interview is over. These so-called ‘leave behinds’ will help the interviewer learn more about you and to remember you after the interview is over. You can hand over these four items during or after the interview.

8. Your resume

While the interviewer will have your job application in front of him or her, you definitely want to have a copy of your resume. In fact, you can have a few copies that you can then offer to anyone present in the room.

But you can also have an extra copy for yourself – it’s a good idea to have a reminder in front of you. This ensures you remember just what kind of resume you’ve sent to the potential employer and it can help you to better talk about your best skills and qualifications.

Remember to always offer a copy of the resume rather than wait for the hiring manager to ask for it. It’s good practice and they can always say they don’t need it if they want.

9. A business card

If you don’t yet have a business card, you should go and print out a few immediately. A good business card doesn’t need to have many thrills – just your name and contact details to ensure people can stay in touch. It’s a superb method of networking and definitely not out-dated, no matter what some might say!

You can attach the business card to any other material you hand out or just offer it at the end of the job interview. It adds a bit of professionalism to your presence and it makes you seem like you mean business.

10. A portfolio/samples of work

In many professions, it can also help to bring with you something that truly showcases your talent. If you are working in a creative industry, then you want to show your creativity and not just talk about it on your resume. Having a portfolio displaying your work is a great idea and you definitely want to have one with you at the job interview.

Another great idea is to have a sampling of what your plans might be for the new role. For example, you might find during your company research the software the company is using isn’t optimized.

You can then draft a short document outlining the changes you think would benefit the organization and how you’d implement them and bring it with you for the hiring manager to view.

11. List of references

Finally, it’s a good idea to have a separate document for your references. You don’t have to include references on your resume and the hiring manager might ask for them during the interview.

You want to be prepared for this and have a list of references with you. The document should include:

  • Three to four names.
  • Their full contact details and preferred method of contact.
  • Their connection to you – e.g. previous team member, ex-boss, professor, university supervisor and so on.


But are there things you shouldn’t have with you? Here are five things you are definitely better off leaving at home.

1. Your parents or other people

Your job interview is for you not for other people. As crazy as it might sound, some people have turned up to the interview with their parents. This is just nuts.

You won’t be able to convince a hiring manager you can deal with the stresses in the job if you can’t show up to the meeting without your mom and dad – or a friend. You can arrange to meet them before or after your interview but do not have them follow you to the interview or wait in the corridor.

The only exception to bringing other people is naturally for assistance reasons. If you’re disabled and you need a personal assistant, such as an interpreter, than you can naturally have them with you.

2. Food

It’s also a bad idea to bring food to your job interview. The process shouldn’t take that long anyway and you should be able to get through without the need to snack.

The problem with having food with you is that you can end up causing a mess with it. It can get all over your business cards or your clothes – you might even ruin the hallway carpet.

Eat a hearty breakfast or lunch before your meeting and only carry a water bottle with you if you want. Most offices will have water dispensers as well so even the water bottle isn’t a must-have item.

3. Products from the prospective employer’s competitor

In some industries and companies, you also have to be careful not to show up with competitor’s products on you. Showing up to an interview with Samsung while holding out your iPhone might seem slightly unprofessional.

It’s not that you need to go and buy the potential employer’s products and have them on display. It’s just that it’s better to avoid making it obvious you are using a competitor. If you keep praising the company and its products during the interview, then why aren’t you wearing/holding/having them?

Be mindful about the company and who its competitors are. Check for any obvious clashes in what you are wearing or carrying with you. It’s more professional to do this and it limits awkwardness.

4. Concealed weapons

Another rather obvious item to leave home is any kind of weapon. Even if you have a legal permit to carry a firearm, don’t show up to the interview with it. You can go a few hours without a gun, surely?

Many workplaces have restrictions on weapons anyway and you don’t want to end up breaking the law.

Aside from weapons, you also don’t want to be carrying any large knives or other items that can cause a lot of damage.

5. Lies and a bad attitude

Finally, you should leave all the lies and the bad attitude at home. It might seem like an easy way of polishing your interview but liars will be caught. The hiring manager will conduct a background check and any lies you’ve told will come up during this reference check. You will never improve your chances with lies.

You also don’t want to have a bad attitude. If you’re having a bad day, relax and do something nice before the interview to ease your mind. Remember what you’re doing – you are being interviewed for a dream job.

So even if you don’t find the hiring manager the friendliest and things are on your mind, try to get through it in good spirits.


To recap the above, prepare for your job interview by thinking about the items you take with you. Focus on items that ensure you look professional and which help you prepare for the interview.

Pick things with you that help you perform in the interview and things that guarantee you leave the interview as the best candidate for the job.

Remember to leave behind anything that’s exactly the opposite – things that don’t belong in the workplace and which are rugged and unprofessional.

So, check your outfit and check your bags. Be prepared, polite and ready for the challenge!

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