What Documents Should You Bring to an Interview?

what documents should you bring to an interview

Preparing for a job interview extends beyond rehearsing answers to common questions; it also involves gathering necessary documents. Candidates often wonder which items to bring to an interview to make a positive and lasting first impression. Knowing which documents to pack can alleviate some of the stress associated with the interview process and can demonstrate to potential employers that you are organized and thorough.

While the specific documents you need may vary depending on the job and industry, there are several key items that most candidates should have on hand. These typically include a few copies of your resume, a list of references, and any other materials that showcase your qualifications and achievements. In addition, personal identification and copies of any required certifications or licenses should be brought to the interview.

Key Takeaways

  • Candidates should prepare key documents to ensure a smooth interview process.
  • Essential items include resumes, reference lists, and personal identification.
  • Additional materials should showcase qualifications and punctuality.

Essential Documents To Bring

When attending an interview, candidates should come prepared with a few crucial documents. Organizing these files ahead of time demonstrates professionalism and attention to detail.

A female professional meticulously organizing her documents before an interview. She appears methodical and detail-oriented, arranging her resume, cover letter, and identification documents on a desk. Her expression is one of concentration and preparation.

Identification Documents

Every candidate must carry valid Identification Documents to verify their identity. These include:

  • Photo ID: A state-issued driver’s license or a passport serves as a recognized form of identification.
  • Social Security Card or Birth Certificate: Employers may request this for employment eligibility verification.

Resume and Cover Letter

The cornerstone of any job application is a candidate’s Resume and Cover Letter. They must ensure that these documents are:

  • Up-to-date: Reflecting current skills and experiences.
  • Tailored: Specific to the job role they are interviewing for.

Professional References

A list of Professional References is often requested to underscore a candidate’s qualifications. They should provide:

  • Reference List: Including names, job titles, company, telephone numbers, and email addresses of each reference.
  • Preparation: Informing references beforehand that they might be contacted.

Candidates should ensure these documents are well-organized and presented in a professional manner to make the best impression.

Supporting Materials

One’s value to a potential employer is not just conveyed through resumes and cover letters. It is vital to bring supporting materials that showcase one’s skills and readiness to engage with the interviewer.

A male candidate confidently showcasing his digital portfolio on a tablet during an interview. His expression is proud and engaged, displaying his work samples relevant to the job. The background should subtly hint at a professional interview setting.

Work Samples and Portfolio

Work Samples and Portfolio are concrete evidence of a candidate’s competencies and achievements. Applicants should select samples that are relevant to the job they are applying for. They could include:

  • Designs or projects: For creative positions, visual work should be included.
  • Writing excerpts: Journalists or writers should have clips from published works.
  • Technical documentation: For IT positions, code snippets or software designs.
  • Research: Academic positions may require published papers or studies.

Portfolios can be presented in a neatly organized binder or digitally on a tablet, depending on the industry standards.

List of Questions for the Interviewer

Crafting a List of Questions demonstrates an applicant’s interest in the role and preparedness for the interview. Questions should reflect knowledge about the company and the position. Example questions might include:

  1. Can you explain the day-to-day responsibilities of this job?
  2. How do you evaluate success in this position?
  3. What are the growth opportunities within the company?

Including thoughtful questions suggests that the candidate has done their research and is genuinely considering how they would fit within the company’s culture.

Personal Items

When preparing for an interview, it’s imperative to consider which personal items one should bring. This not only includes essentials for note-taking and document organization but also considers the technological tools needed for efficiency and contactability.

A female professional checking her elegant, professional notepad and pen, with a presentation folder visible. She appears organized and calm, with a focused demeanor, symbolizing thorough preparation.

Notepad and Writing Implements

A notepad is critical for jotting down notes during the interview. The candidate should ensure their notepad is professional-looking and not overly adorned or casual in design. Along with the notepad, a pen or pencil is necessary; therefore, it’s best to carry more than one to avoid issues with ink or lead failure.

Presentation Folder or Padfolio

To convey organization and professionalism, utilizing a presentation folder or padfolio is recommended. This folder should contain copies of the CV and any other documents pertinent to the interview. It can also serve as a storage place for the notepad and extra pens, ensuring everything is within easy reach.

Personal Electronics

Personal electronics, specifically one’s cell phone, should be included, but with caveats. It is crucial to ensure the phone is set to silent to avoid disruptions. A phone is essential after the interview, allowing for immediate follow-up communication such as emails or calls.

Practical Considerations

When preparing for an interview, candidates must ensure they have clear directions to the company’s location and appropriate attire that reflects a professional appearance.

A male candidate, dressed in business attire, checking the directions on his smartphone before heading to an interview. He looks determined and slightly anxious, emphasizing the importance of being punctual and well-prepared.

Directions and Contact Information

Directions: An interviewee should have reliable and up-to-date directions to the company’s office address. Utilizing a GPS-enabled device or map application is advisable for real-time navigation. A printed map or written directions can serve as a dependable backup.

  • Office Address: Verify the complete office address before departure.
  • Transportation Options: Research public transportation routes or secure parking information if driving.

Contact Information: Having the company’s phone number on hand is crucial. Should any issues arise during travel, one can promptly inform the appropriate contact at the company.

Attire and Appearance

Appearance: Presenting oneself with a professional appearance is essential. The attire chosen should be clean, well-fitting, and conservative unless the industry demands otherwise.

  • Dress Professionally: Business attire, unless otherwise specified by the company, usually includes:
Suit with a tieConservative business suit
Dress shirtBlouse
Dress shoesDress shoes or professional flats

Professional grooming and minimalistic accessories support a polished look. An interviewee should also consider the culture of the company when selecting their outfit, aiming to align with the company’s dress code.

Intangibles to Exhibit

In addition to physical documents, candidates must display certain intangible qualities during an interview. These encompass the candidate’s demeanor and interactive approach, which can significantly influence the interview’s outcome.

A female candidate in an interview, confidently engaging with the interviewer. She's demonstrating a positive attitude and confident body language, with a bright, attentive expression that conveys her enthusiasm and preparedness.

Confidence and Positive Attitude

A candidate should exude confidence without appearing arrogant. Maintaining eye contact and offering a firm handshake upon greeting are practical manifestations of confidence. A positive attitude is conveyed through a pleasant demeanor, often indicating that they are adaptable and can handle workplace challenges with enthusiasm. It’s not only about what they say but also how they say it; a confident tone of voice and clear articulation of answers reflect self-assurance.

  • Non-Verbal Cues:
    • Eye contact
    • Firm handshake
    • Upright posture
  • Verbal Indicators:
    • Clear articulation
    • Assurance in responses
  • Behavioral Aspects:
    • Smiling appropriately
    • Demonstrating eagerness to contribute

Questions and Interaction

Interaction is a two-way street. Candidates should come prepared with questions that showcase their interest in the role and the company. Thoughtful questions imply that they have done their research and are considering how they might fit and contribute to the company’s mission and goals.

A candidate’s ability to engage in dialogue with the interviewer suggests effective management of a conversation and exhibits an inquisitive attitude that is essential for problem-solving and growth within a company.

  • Prepared Questions:
    • About the company’s goals
    • About the role’s challenges
  • Engagement Level:
    • Responsiveness to answers
    • Active listening
  • Attitude:
    • Curiosity about growth opportunities
    • Willingness to learn

After the Interview

Once the interview is concluded, candidates should focus on post-interview etiquette and strategies to maintain momentum in their job search.

A male professional writing a thank-you note on his laptop post-interview. His expression is thoughtful and professional, reflecting the importance of post-interview etiquette.

Thank-You Note

Sending a personalized thank-you email within 24 hours after the interview demonstrates professionalism and gratitude. A thank-you note should express appreciation for the interviewer’s time, reiterate interest in the position, and reference specific discussion points from the interview to emphasize the candidate’s engagement.

  • Format: Brief, professional email
  • Content: Express gratitude, recap highlights, state enthusiasm
  • Timing: Within 24 hours post-interview

Backup Plan and Follow-Up

Maintaining a backup plan is prudent while awaiting a response. Candidates should continue applying for other positions and networking to ensure ongoing opportunities. A thoughtful follow-up can also display initiative. If no response is received within the initially stipulated timeframe, it’s appropriate to send a polite inquiry regarding the status of the application.

  • Continued Job Search: Keep applying and networking
  • Follow-Up Contact:
    • Method: Email or phone, as per prior communication
    • Frequency: Once every 1-2 weeks, unless otherwise directed
    • Content: Succinct, respectful request for update

Candidates should remember that each action post-interview can further influence their standing with a potential employer.

What Not to Bring

When preparing for an interview, most candidates consider what they should bring, but equally important is what they should leave behind. Chewing gum is a definite no-go for interviews; it can be distracting and seen as unprofessional. Opt for fresh breath by brushing teeth beforehand or using mints before entering the building – but don’t bring mints into the interview.

A female candidate contemplating at a table, deciding what to leave behind. Visible are items like gum, perfume, and an overstuffed bag, with her expression showing careful consideration and professionalism.

Perfume and cologne should also be used sparingly or not at all. Strong scents can be overwhelming in a confined space and may cause discomfort if an interviewer has allergies or sensitivities.

Regarding accessories, a bag or briefcase may seem essential, but one should be selective about its contents. Overstuffed or disorganized bags can give a poor impression of organizational skills. Carry only the essentials required for the interview, such as a portfolio or copies of a resume, in a neat and presentable manner.

What to Leave BehindReason
Chewing gumUnprofessional and potentially distracting
MintsMay be seen as unprepared for the interview
Perfume/CologneCould be overpowering or cause discomfort
Bulky ItemsSuggests poor organization and preparation

It’s critical to consider what items reflect professionalism and preparedness. Extraneous items not only clutter the physical space but also detract from the candidate’s presentation. Maintaining a neat and organized appearance demonstrates respect for the interviewer and for the opportunity at hand.

Special Considerations

When preparing for an interview, applicants must consider the interview format and the specific role they are applying for. Different scenarios may require varying documents and preparatory steps.

A male candidate setting up for a virtual interview at his home workspace. He's checking his laptop, with digital copies of documents open on the screen. His expression is focused, highlighting the unique preparation needed for virtual interviews.

Virtual Interviews

In virtual interviews, candidates should ensure they have digital copies of their documents readily available. They must test their equipment beforehand to prevent any technical difficulties that could impede access to their files during the interview.

  • Technical Setup: A reliable internet connection and functioning webcam and microphone are vital.
  • Documentation: Have electronic copies of your resume, cover letter, and any additional required documents open on your computer for easy sharing.

Internships and Part-Time Roles

Applicants for internships and part-time jobs, including teenagers, should tailor their documents to highlight relevant experience and skills, even from non-professional settings.

  • Resume: Focus on education, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, and any applicable coursework.
  • Recommendations: Letters from teachers, volunteer coordinators, or any professional contacts should be prepared, especially if prior work experience is limited.


When preparing for an interview, it’s essential to bring the right documents to avoid last-minute stress and to present oneself as a well-prepared candidate. Candidates should carry:

A female professional, looking relieved and confident, holding a well-organized binder of documents as she leaves the interview. Her expression conveys satisfaction and readiness, symbolizing a well-prepared candidate.
  • Copies of their resume: At least five copies, printed on quality paper.
  • List of references: A separate page with contact information of at least three professional references.
  • Official identification: A driver’s license or passport to confirm identity.
  • Work samples: Portfolio or project summaries, if applicable.
  • Cover letter: Although not always requested, having a copy can be beneficial.
  • Educational documents: Copies of degrees or certifications.

It is advisable to keep documents organized in a professional folder or binder. Be sure they are accessible and in pristine condition. Information should be updated and relevant to the position they are interviewing for. Additionally, individuals may consider bringing a notepad and pen for notes, and extra copies of the job posting and their own application materials for reference.

Preparation extends to what one brings to an interview; it helps set the stage for a successful exchange. Being organized demonstrates attention to detail and respect for the interviewer’s time. It’s not just about answering questions correctly; it’s about showing one is ready and equipped for the role.

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