Job interviews are stressful because so many factors are out of your control — like what the hiring manager will ask or whether your personality matches what they’re looking for. But there is one thing you can control that can make all the difference: how prepared you are.
Career experts and hiring managers say to be (and appear) fully prepared, you really only need to bring six things with you to the interview.
Here are the essentials they say you should show up with:
Don’t hurt your chances of landing the job by showing up unprepared.
Don’t risk a technology malfunction by relying solely on your smartphone for directions.
Whether you’re taking a car, train, subway, or bus, go ahead and print out a set of directions as a backup, writes Liz Ryan, CEO of Human Workplace, on Forbes.com.
In addition, Ryan suggests doing a test run of your directions the day before or a few days before so you know how much time to set aside for your commute.
2. Copies of your résumé
Despite the transition from the traditional paper résumé to more dynamic social media templates, such as LinkedIn, many hiring managers still expect candidates to arrive with a few hard copies.
Amanda Augustine, a career advice expert and spokesperson for TopResume and a career consultant for Amanda Augustine LLC, says if you happen to know the exact number of people you’ll be meeting with, bring at least one copy for each of them, plus a few extra to be safe. “You’ll need one for you to reference while you talk, and one copy for each interviewer, just in case they aren’t prepared,” she says.
3. Pen and notepad
A number of career experts and hiring managers we reached out to emphasized the importance of bringing a pen and paper.
Jotting down a few notes during the interview can come in handy as you write your post-interview thank you note later that day. (But remember to listen closely to the hiring manager, and don’t get distracted by your note-taking!)
Also, if you’re interviewing for a consulting, finance, or engineering position, you will likely have to answer impossible brainteaser questions. It can be helpful to have a pen and paper as you attempt to work through these questions.
You’re not the only one in the hot seat on the big day. In nearly every interview you will have the chance to ask your own questions.
Use this part of the interview to your advantage. Ask smart questions to impress the hiring manager and to figure out if this place is a perfect fit for you. The career experts recommend having a few written down ahead of time rather than having to come up with them on the spot.
While questions may vary depending on the company you’re interviewing with, here are some impressive ones that will work in any situation:
1. How do you see this position evolving in the next three years?
2. What can I help to clarify that would make hiring me an easy decision?
3. How will the work I’ll be doing contribute to the organization’s mission?
5. Portfolio of sample work
Depending on the job you’re applying for, it is a good idea to bring samples of your work. “The medium needs to match up. You should not bring a binder of print material to a digital publication,” explains Business Insider’s director of talent, Stephanie Fogle. “And be prepared to talk about it.”
6. A positive attitude
“Most importantly, come with your A game,” Augustine says. “Confidence, a positive attitude, and a genuine interest in the role and the company will set you apart from the competition. When you and another candidate have comparable skill sets, the only thing that will set you apart is your passion.”