Preparing for interviews can be stressful and time-consuming, which often means you’ll leave other important tasks, such as packing all of your interview bag necessities, to the very last-minute. After all, who thinks about making sure you’ve safely tucked your lip balm and pressed powder away into your bag when you’re eagerly trying to cram more info into your brain the night before?
Luckily I’ve dedicated my entire month to making sure you’re as prepared for your interviews as possible, in every way, shape, and form! And that means making sure you know exactly what interview bag essentials you need to pack to make sure you’re 100% prepared come the interview day.
Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom to grab my Interview Bag Necessities Checklist to make gathering your interview bag necessities even easier! Preparing for interviews can be oh-so-stressful and the last thing you want is to forget something absolutely essential to your interview. So don’t get caught unawares and make sure you have absolutely everything before you head out to rock it!
The Ultimate Interview Bag Necessities to Bring with You on the Big Day!
1. A professional tote bag or briefcase.
While you’re not going to be carrying a million things in your interview bag like you might, say, a purse, you’re still going to need a place to store larger items (listed below) that simply won’t fit inside a cross body or a wristlet. Taking the time to invest in a sturdy, portable bag will save you time and hassle as you’re anxiously preparing for your early morning interview. I’d recommend either a taupe or a black color, either of which will match any professional outfit!
We humans are judgmental creatures, and if you’ve lived long enough to make it to job interviews I’m sure you’ve figured that out by now. We’re also aesthetic creatures whether we want to believe it or not. So I’ll ask you this: what looks more professional? The person carrying a neutral colored laptop bag/tote? Or the person with all of their pens, papers, and business cards clutched in their arms? (I’ll give you a hint, it’s the former!)
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Having all of your interview bag necessities in an actual bag will also help you feel more organized and prepared on the big day. You won’t have to worry about something falling out of your hands or about forgetting something!
When I began to seriously interview for full-time positions, I used my faithful Dagne Dover for all of my interview bag necessities. I had asked for it for Christmas and even though it has a bit of a steep price tag, it’s now my work bag for my full time job and I adore it! You don’t have to treat this as an investment, but I would definitely look into purchasing a bag that’s multi-purpose so you can continue using it once you land that position!
2. Three copies of your most recent resume.
When it comes to this document you can never be too careful! While your interviewer’ll most likely have a copy of your resume on hand, it’s always good to bring extras in case there’s additional people participating in the interview or your interviewer forgets. Remember, when you leave the interview there will only be two documents that the interviewer will be able to reference to remember you: their own notes and your resume. It’s why it’s always important to come prepared with copies of your resume in your interview bag necessities.
“But why 3?” You may be asking. And honestly, because it’s a nice round number! In my opinion, 3 copies is the minimum you should keep on you at all times when you’re going to an interview. I’ve been known to tote 20 copies (yes, 20) to career fairs and interviews when I was in college! This way even if one or two have bent corners or were accidentally crumpled, you still have one fresh, clean copy. There’s also always a chance that you may have more than one person interviewing you, so you want to make sure you have copies for everyone!
Finally, bringing multiple copies ensures that you’ll also have a copy for your own reference. As you’re answering your interviewer’s questions you may want to point out specific examples that you detailed in your resume so that your interviewer can make note, and it’s easier to do so if you can look at your own copy instead of reaching over to glance at theirs!3 Reasons to Bring 3 Resume Copies to an Interview: so you can easily tie in your experience during the interview, for the interviewer to reference post-interview, and in case a copy or two get crumpled. #careeradvice Click To Tweet
3. A padfolio with a legal pad, pens, and your business card (if you have them!)
The padfolio is an interview bag necessities for all professionals because it’ll hold your resume copies, business cards, a pen, and a legal pad all in one convenient and organized place. It’ll also hold all your important research that you did to prepare for your interview!
You will use this for every single interview that you do so it’s important to invest in one that not only looks clean and professional, but also has plenty of pockets inside for organization! I’m talking a pocket for sheets of paper, a loop for a pen, and a pocket for business cards at least. Please, take it from someone who bought a cute one from Target that only had one pocket inside and regretted it immensely. Keep it professional and opt for black — it’s a universal industry standard and will stand the test of time.
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Now here’s the iffy subject: business cards. If you are a working professional and have business cards for your position at your current place of employment, then by all means, bring a couple to the interview to offer to your interviewer. The point is that the business card gives your recruiter some information they might not already have, such as an additional number or email at which to reach you. But if you’re a college student who isn’t employed full-time? Leave your business cards at home. As someone who has done campus recruiting for a large firm, I’ve seen my recruiters throw away business cards from students who only included information like “skills” and contact information. Unless you designed your own business card and you’re going for a graphic design position, it’s probably unnecessary!
4. A pair of walking shoes/flats.
These are especially important if you’re using public transportation to get to your interview or if you’re going to be walking to/from interviews. The absolutely last thing that you want to do is show up with blisters on your feet — or bleeding, for that matter — from your brand new pair of professional shoes. The time to wear what is, let’s be real, not your more comfortable pair of shoes is during the interview, but not to and from!
These can be whatever shoes you like so long as you can slip them on and off easily and you don’t have to put anything on or take anything off to wear them. So if you’re wearing a pair of heels for the interview, I’d probably opt for a pair of cushy flats rather than a pair of sneakers. But if you’re planning on wearing oxfords or loafers that require socks? A pair of sneakers you can slip on and off easily will work just fine.
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Also make sure that both your walking shoes and interview shoes will fit into your interview bag along with all of your other items. There’s no use in having them as interview bag necessities if you can’t actually carry them in your bag! After all, unless your walking shoes are also professional you don’t want anyone to see them or see you changing into or out of them.Your feet don't have to be comfortable during an interview but they sure as hell do getting to and from it! Always keep a pair of walking shoes on hand that you can easily slip in and out of. #careeradvice Click To Tweet
5. A compact of pressed powder.
As someone who constantly struggles with oily skin this is a must for my interview bag necessities. I feel much more confident walking into that interview room if I know that my skin is even and my T-zone is perfectly matte! I’ll be completely honest, my skin is something that I’ve always been pretty self-conscious about, so the more that I can do to mitigate those feelings the better I’ll perform during the interview.
I always opt for the pressed powder for my bag instead of loose powder so that you can’t accidentally spill it all over your suit; we all know that will be impossible to get out. But overall, make sure you have what works for you! If you have dry skin, maybe opt for a hydrating setting spray or mist that makes you feel good. And if you don’t wear makeup, you could always keep a small pack of baby wipes in your bag to keep you fresh-faced!
6. Tinted lip balm.
If you don’t use lip balm or lipstick then, obviously, you don’t need to include this in your interview bag necessities. But even though I’m a matte liquid lipstick type of gal (I absolutely love them), I always opted for a tinted lip balm when I interviewed for ease.
I have a habit of biting and licking my lips when I’m thinking which is the absolute death of matte lipsticks. If I wore my favorite lippy during an interview it would normally mean that all that would be left on my mouth was a ring of color on the outer edges by the end! It would also mean that I couldn’t touch up my lipstick right before the interview without it feeling cakey on my lips.
Therefore: tinted lip balm. Even if it fades it’ll look natural on your lips and you could easily reapply without worry!
7. Breath mints.
If you’re like me and can’t live without your morning cup of coffee then, please, hear me out: keep a pack of breath mints with your interview bag necessities. Remember what we talked about last time about making a good first impression? Well, you can imagine what kind of impression you’re making if your “hello” is scented with the stale coffee you drank ten minutes ago.
The point: we shouldn’t be able to smell your morning (or afternoon) meal on your breath!We shouldn't be able to smell your morning (or afternoon) meal on your breath! Use breath mints before your interview! #careeradvice Click To Tweet
What shouldn’t be in your ultimate interview bag necessities.
1. Your cell phone.
Look, I get it, I will never convince you to leave your cell phone behind in your car during an interview (we’re all too afraid it’ll get stolen, I know). But at the very least turn the thing completely off! Let your important contacts know that you’ll be unreachable during your interview time if you’re concerned about missing a call or text. Take this time to be completely present in the moment with your research before your interviewer calls you in so that you can be as prepared as possible!
2. Your watch.
Does your brand new rose gold watch look amazing with that navy suit you purchased for this interview? Sure, but you still shouldn’t wear it. Harsh? Maybe, but true. You’re one million times more likely to check the time during an interview if you’re wearing a watch — because you can — which makes you look impatient and bored. Your interviewer will know exactly when to finish your conversation, so don’t worry about it! Leave the watch at home so that you can be as engaged as possible.Checking the time makes you look impatient and bored. Leave the watch at home and turn off your phone during an interview to keep you from being tempted! Click To Tweet
3. Old copies of your resume.
The last thing that you want is to try to pull out your latest copy of your resume (an interview bag essential, obviously) and end up handing your interviewer an old copy. Even if you don’t notice it during the interview, it could mean that huge formatting error wasn’t corrected or that your newer responsibilities at work weren’t included which could hurt you after the interview is over. As soon as you have the newest version in hand, recycle the ones you’ve previously printed.
4. Information about other interviews you’ll be attending.
You want to maintain the illusion during the interview that you are only interviewing with this company. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t and it doesn’t matter if your interviewer suspects you aren’t. When you walk out of that interview, you want your interviewer to only think of you as 100% committed to landing this role. And guess what won’t help you? Those flyers you were handed at career fair from a rival firm. If you have back-to-back interviews, only keep one set of information in your padfolio at a time. Otherwise? Leave the extra information at home.Don't break the illusion that you're completely focused on this one company during your interview. Leave information about other companies at home! #careeradvice Click To Tweet
5. Your coffee and/or water bottle.
I can tell you from personal experience that if I have either water or coffee in front of me I’ll absent mindedly drink it until it’s gone. Sometimes within minutes. If I’m nervous, I’ll drink especially quickly. And here’s the thing: what goes in must come out. If you have a long interview ahead of you, it’s probably worth it to consider the fact that you may not have immediate access to a bathroom! So leave the liquids at home and save your bladder some stress. Besides, you’ll most likely be offered a small water anyways.
What are your interview bag necessities that you always brought/bring with you? Let me know in the comments below, and make sure to share this post with a friend on the job hunt!