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What to Take to an Interview

What do you take into the interview? It’s really tempting to take everything into the first stage interview. After all you want to be remembered. You want to stand out from the crowd.

Fortunately, if the interviewers want to see specific evidence of your skills, knowledge and experience they are likely to ask you to bring this information with you.


It’s very important you understand the format of the interview, then you can make an informed judgement whether it’s appropriate to bring with you additional evidence of your work.

If the interview is an informal, fact finding or getting to know you type interview it’s likely that bringing loads of additional information or folders full of work will not be appropriate at this stage. In fact it’s likely to go against you if you spend too much of the interviewers time going through information that they haven’t specifically asked you to produce. Particularly if they have made it clear to you that this stage is very informal.

Some organisations are more concerned with the right cultural fit than the technical skills - at the initial stages anyway. If the organisation has a very unique and niche culture then you can understand why they would place a lot more importance on the fit and match. Think about companies such as Google or Innocent – they have very unique working environments and they seek the best talent to match their corporate cultures and values.

Related: How to Prepare for a Job Interview [INFOGRAPHIC]

Here are some of the basic items to take to interview

Work Portfolio

If you feel this is appropriate you might like to take samples of your work. Of course this will depend very much on your sector or industry. Always comply with confidentiality and data protection. If the interviewer thinks you have broken regulations or given out highly sensitive and confidential information this will not be viewed positively.

Having previously worked in a Japan Corporate Bank protecting customer information was extremely important and there were lots of procedures in place to prevent any information leakage.

Directions & Map

Print off the address and the map. Unless you are very confident you know where the interview venue is and have been there a few times previously it’s always wise to print off the details. Don’t rely on your memory or sat nav – always have a back up!!

You don’t want to be worrying about getting to the right place at the right time when you have more important things on your mind. Of course there is always the last resort.....ask someone for directions.

Contact Details

Don’t forget the contact details as well as the map – just in case you are travelling by public transport or driving and you know you are going to be late. Aim to leave enough time to factor in any potential delays or wrong turns.

If you are driving it is well worth making sure you have enough petrol before setting off – ideally filling up the car the day before the interview. Again you don’t really want to be worrying about whether there is enough petrol in the car on the day of the interview.

Related: How to Research a Company to Prepare for an Interview

Copies of your Curriculum Vitae

It’s good practice to take a couple of hard copies of your CV to the interview. You can give one copy to the interviewer and a copy for you to help you talk through your career history.

Even though you should have prepared before the interview – if the interviewer wants a detailed account of your job history you may want to refer to your CV for exact dates etc.

Grooming items

You will want to look and feel your best when you arrive for an interview but at the same time you don’t want to take big bags full of stuff into the interview room. So make sure you have a comb or small brush, a few essential make up items and some mints to keep your breath fresh!! Particularly if you have planned to arrive early and grab yourself a coffee before – you don’t want a strong smell of coffee on your breath.

Pen & Paper

If you have lots of questions – it’s worth making a note of these and it shows you are genuinely interested in the role if you ask interesting and relevant questions.

Good recruiters will factor in some time to talk through the job, the department and some well thought out highlights about the company and they will also factor in some time to allow you to ask questions.

It’s always polite to let the interviewers know you have lots of questions and ask if there’s enough time to cover all the questions on your list. Unfortunately, interviewers will not have an endless amount of time to spend with each candidate and may have interviews booked back to back. Just be aware that it is likely they will only have a defined amount of time to spend with you particularly if it’s first stage.

Bag or briefcase

It’s acceptable to take one handbag or a briefcase into an interview. If you are travelling from overseas you’ll probably have an overnight travel case or suitcase with you and that’s obviously understandable. However, you shouldn’t take in shopping bags or sports bags if you can avoid it. If you are making the most of travelling into a main town or city – hold off the shopping trip until after the interview!!

Definitely don’t take food or drink (including coffee) into the interview – it’s a little bit too relaxed and it doesn’t give a good impression that you are taking this interview seriously. I know we live in a coffee culture these days but save the lattes for when you get the job!!

Additional items you may be asked to produce


If you need to produce this at a particular stage in the interview process you will be asked by the person setting up the interview. Most employers will ask all candidates to prove their eligibility to work in the UK to avoid discrimination.

Visa documentation

If you need a work visa you’ll know what documentation you need to produce to prove you are eligible to work in the UK. There are many different types of visas that entitle individuals to work legally in the UK. It is your responsibility as the candidate to produce the necessary documentation when requested to do so.

Related: Job Interview Preparation Guide and Important Checklist

Do you have an interview survival kit? We’d love to hear from you!!

photo by: cameron adams

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