This recent AOL article "18 Things Navy SEALS Won't Leave Home Without," inspired me to think about all the things job seekers need to bring to an interview. While I won't suggest bulletproof jackets, I do have a pretty decent list of items that can come in handy.
Everyone wonder what to bring on an interview? There's a lot more than you think! Here are 18 things you should have with you:
1. Several hard copies of your resume. You never know if you will be meeting with extra people. Also, many hiring managers forget to print out your resume in advance. Having a clean copy shows you are prepared. Just make sure it's in the latest format. Here's a video on what recruiters look for in resumes today>>
2. Only one bag. This one is more for the ladies, but can apply to men as well. Don't drag in a big purse along with an even bigger computer bag. It looks cluttered. Select one simple bag that can neatly hold all your items. It should be sturdy and something you can easily slip on and off your shoulder so both your hands are free.
3. Plain, professional notebook. You may find yourself needing to take notes. (FYI- you should always ask permission before doing so.) You want a nice, clean notebook. Nothing over-the-top or childish.
4. Couple of pens. You may not be the only one in need of a writing utensil. If the hiring managers suddenly finds them short of a pen, imagine how much they'll appreciate you providing one to them. Especially, when you can say, "You can keep it, I brought extras." That shows preparedness.
5. Professional image. There is a famous quote by Doris Day, "People hear what they see." When dressing for an interview, we must make sure that our hair, makeup, jewelry, attire, and shoes are sending the right message. Stay clear of anything that is outdated, or over the top. Keep the colors in check. The focus should be on you and what you have to say, not what you're wearing.
6. Winning personality. Companies like to hire individuals who are enthusiastic about the idea of working for their firm. Bring your best smile and an energetic attitude. I'm not suggesting you change who you are, but you do really need to make an effort to show that you want the job. I'm not suggesting you act desperate, just that you let them know you truly are interested.
7. List of questions to ask the employer. At the end of the interview you will most likely be given an opportunity to ask questions. This is your chance to shine! Do your homework on the company and come up with at least half a dozen questions you can ask that relate to their business and their plans for growth and profitability. The questions you ask will show just how focused you are on adding value to the organization. Remember, you will only get hired if you can prove that you can save or make enough money to justify the cost. These questions are a way to show your experience level and commitment to the organization. In short, the right questions can prove you're the right candidate for the job!
8. Set of good references. If the interviewer asks you for your references, that is the buying signal. It means they are interested in moving you along in the process. You want to be able to provide those references on the spot. Type up the name and title of each individual and their relationship to you. List their appropriate contact information as well. Having this available will show the employer that you are confident in your professional reputation and the information those references will share with them.
9. Prepared to answer tough interview questions. Nobody should ever "wing it" in an interview. You should study the typical questions that get asked and prepare your answers. They should be supported by fact. Being able to provide examples of accomplishments as a way to validate your answers is vital. Hiring managers often use behavioral questions as a way to determine if you are a fit for their company. These questions involved you giving long answers explaining how you would handle a particular situation so they can see how you might react in their own environment. Preparing for these difficult questions can make the interview go more smoothly because you will be more relaxed and feel more confident.
10. Cell phone that is turned off. Do not answer your phone during an interview. In fact, turn it off, or even better, leave it in the car. The fastest way to be eliminated in an interview is to use your phone. Nothing is more disrespectful of an employer's time. Using your phone during an interview gives the impression that you do not really want the job.
11. Bottle of water, cough drops, tissues and hand sanitizer. Sometimes, we can get a tickle in our throat, an unexpected cough, or sneezing fit. Having these items readily available in your bag make it easy for you to take care of them and get back to the business of the interview.
12. Shoes that are meant for walking. You never know if a job interview will include a long walking tour of the facility. While I don't suggest you wear sneakers, be sure to wear attractive shoes that will allow you to keep up with the employer as they provide a tour of the building.
13. Your best eye contact and smile. Most hiring managers say they can tell within just a few minutes whether or not they will hire the individual they meet. Body language, facial expressions, eye contact, and hand gestures tell a lot about you in those early moments of the interview. Even if you aren't the most expressive individual, solid eye contact and a genuine smile will convey the positive attitude they are looking for. You want them to get a sense that you are likable. They want to feel like they could get along with you in the office on a day-to-day basis. Bringing a warm smile and looking into their eyes will help them see you are a good fit.
14. The facts, and only the facts. It is very important that you not lie in an interview. If there are difficult moments from your past, you must be able to talk about them in a calm and objective manner. For example, if you've been fired or laid off, you should be able to articulate how you have grown from the experience. Lying, or deflecting questions in an interview can always be seen. Employers will not call you back if they get any sense that you are withholding the truth.At the same time, be sure to keep your emotions in check. This is business. If you act too emotional or share your feelings towards former employers in a way that is anything other than professional, you will be eliminated.
15. Examples of your work. This is particularly important if you are in a field that requires you to show design elements. You never know when an employer might want to actually see examples of the work you mentioned in the interview. I do not suggest you bring large quantities, but rather just a few simple examples that you could share and store in your small back. You should only offer these when they ask for them. Once again, it shows preparedness.
16. Business-of-one mentality. You are not an employee, you are a potential vendor to this organization. They are making a very expensive purchase of services. You are one of many potential suppliers of those services. When you recognize that you are a business-of- one, you can approach the interview with the right mindset. This is a potential customer that you must listen carefully to and provide as much detail and reassurance as you can with respect to their purchase of your services. You do not want to be a pushy salesperson. Instead, think of yourself as a consultant who is there to eliminate a problem and alleviate a pain. Focus on explaining how your skills and abilities will do the best job at making their work lives easier. That's what they're paying for!
17. Long-term relationship strategy. You should go into this interview assuming you won't get the job. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to start to build a strong relationship with a future potential employer. While you may not get the job this time, if you do a great job in the interview, you could be considered for future opportunities. So, do your best to earn their trust and make new friends. Consider following up with each person you met after the interview and invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn. Think of them as colleagues that you hope to do business with some day. Seeing the interview as just one step in the process of building a strong working relationship will help you feel more relaxed and will also yield better results in the long run.
18. Belief in yourself. You must have confidence in you and your abilities if you wish to prove to an employer you are the right candidate for the job. Yes, there are other individuals competing for the same role, but you deserve this opportunity as much as they do. Be proud of your skills and don't be afraid to talk about yourself. Many of us have been raised to be humble, so the idea of discussing our accomplishments seems awkward. But you must sell an employer on the fact that you 100% believe you can do this job is better than anybody else. They will see right through you if you lack the confidence they need you to have. Would you buy something very expensive from a salesperson who gave you the impression they didn't believe in what they were selling? Of course not! So, recognize your talents and don't hold back from sharing them in the interview.
What did I miss? I'm sure you can all think of other things to add to this list. Please share them in the comments below!
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