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 Don't Bring It to the Interview

By Joe Stein

For whatever reason, Job Seekers seem to be very tempted to want to bring items, besides themselves, to an interview.  Now, there are some items that can be brought with you (or even expected of you), such as a notepad or extra copies of your Resume.  There are, however, others that should be either left in your car or at home.

Let’s now take a look at what you might be tempted to bring with you to the interview, but it is best if you did not.  We will also try to provide some information from a prospective employer as to why bringing this to the interview may be perceived negatively.

• Mobile Phone – It seems like everyone not only has a mobile phone, but also carries it with them everywhere they go.  It is generally best to store your phone safely in your vehicle, and not bring it with you into the interview.  If you feel you do need to bring it with you (perhaps to assist you in completing an application), then make sure it is hidden and turned off for any discussions.  It is generally considered poor behavior to have your phone ring/vibrate/buzz while in an interview.  For most Hiring Managers, this will be considered an automatic candidate decline.

• Non-Related Reading Material – Sometimes there is some waiting involved in interviewing, especially if you are going to speak to multiple people during this session.  Unless you have documents/research related to the interview, do not bring any other reading material in with you. It might be tempting to bring a copy of the newspaper or a magazine with you to help pass the time, but, by doing so, you may give the impression that you are not taking this opportunity with the proper level of seriousness.

• Sunglasses – Even if you are interviewing on one of the sunniest days in Western New York, leave the sunglasses in your vehicle.  An interview is not a casual enough conversation to have sunglasses resting on top of your head.

• Large Bags – A notebook/portfolio and a folder is sufficient to carry all the material needed for the interview.  A large messenger or other related bag can become distracting in the interview, and can provide confusion (at times) regarding where to place it in a room or how to store it during a facility tour.

• A Large Stack of Information – You may be tempted to want to bring every document you have ever received to the interview.  As an Interviewer, I tend to sigh when candidates bring out stacks of performance reviews, letters of recommendation, and examples of their work.  All of this information may be relevant and may even be wanted at some point.  In the actual interview, however, Hiring Managers generally want you focused on the conversation not what prop you are going to use at any given moment.  Finally, on this subject, make sure any information you bring with you is not confidential to your current (or former) employer.  If you do share information of this nature, your prospective employer may assume you will be this loose with their inside data.

• Gum/Candy/Food/Drink – Do not bring your own “snacks” for the interview.  If you want to freshen your breath, chew some gum or have a mint while driving to the facility (or bring a little mouthwash), but don’t use it while in the building.  Even if you have a 1st thing in the A.M. interview, don’t bring coffee/tea or a bagel with you.  You may be offered a coffee or water while there, so if you feel it is appropriate, then accept but do not come with your own items.

• Parents/Friends – This is probably the ultimate “don’t do it”.  Do not bring your parents to the interview (and if you are a parent reading this… DO NOT GO!).  You will give the impression of someone who is incapable of functioning by yourself. If you need someone to give you a ride to the interview, then have them drop you off outside of the facility and be available to come pick you up when the interview is done.  Make sure you have either the timing worked out, or easy phone access to your ride because you do not want to be “hanging around” the lobby or outside waiting to be picked up.

As part of your interview preparation, one of the aspects to cover is what to bring with you...and what not to.  A general rule of thumb is if you are not sure whether to bring something, then you probably should not do it.  What you bring to an interview may not rise in importance to the level of what you say, but it can be a critical to determining whether or not you are offered the job.

As always, best of luck in your job search!