What to Bring to a Job Interview

Advertising Disclosure: When you buy something by clicking links on our site, we may earn a small commission, but it never affects the products or services we recommend.

Prospective employees in business attire wait in line for job interviews
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock.com

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

When prepping for an interview, it’s essential to strike the right balance between bringing too much and too little. If you bring too much stuff, you risk seeming like you’re more prepared for a trip than an interview.

However, if you travel too light, you may come across as nonchalant and unprepared.

So, what’s the best way to strike a balance? Analyze everything based on what purpose it serves. Does it help you to exude confidence or convey your suitability (e.g., a power suit, business cards, etc.)? That’s a definite yes!

On the other hand, does it only serve to tell a story about you that isn’t an appropriate use of the interview time? That should be a no-go.

For example, don’t bring anything that could be construed as offensive or unprofessional (e.g., political memorabilia or items related to current events).

And while it’s essential to help the interviewer get a feel for how you’ll fit in with the team culture, personal memorabilia or highlights should get left at home.

Beyond that, consider the following as a base list of must-have interview items, first for remote job interviews and then for in-person interviews.

What to Bring to a Remote Job Interview: Your Best Fully Charged Tech

Older woman working
Vadym Pastukh / Shutterstock.com

Though you may be used to interviewing in person, a remote job interview comes with its own set of challenges.

One of the most important things you can do to prepare is to ensure your phone or laptop is fully charged. This way, if there’s any technical difficulty, you’ll be able to troubleshoot and stay in the interview.

In addition, having a backup plan will ensure you won’t lose the opportunity to continue if your phone dies in the middle of the interview. Also, remember to mute your phone and desktop notifications if you’re on a computer.

And finally, close any tabs or programs that could cause distractions should you need to share your screen at any point.

What to Bring to a Remote Job Interview: a Distraction-Free Environment

productive remote worker
marvent / Shutterstock.com

Remote interviews can be daunting if you’re not in control of the space, but you can mitigate that by choosing your location ahead of time.

If there are others in your home, can you be confident that they’ll be able to remain silent and away from your door?

If not, consider going to a quieter location, such as your car or the garage.

Avoid noisy public places, such as coffee shops, if your home isn’t an option. Instead, try to find a quiet room in your local library or a coworking space that’s available to reserve.

What to Bring to a Remote Job Interview: a Notepad and Pen

Man working on laptop
Prostock-studio / Shutterstock.com

You’ll want to come prepared with a pen and notepad. This shows that you are interested in the role and willing to take the time to jot down key points from the conversation.

Not only will this help you to remember what was said, but it will also demonstrate your organizational skills.

In addition, if the interviewer asks you to complete any follow-up tasks, having a pen and notepad on hand will allow you to jot down details and then get started immediately.

What to Bring to a Remote Job Interview: a List of Written Questions

Woman preparing taxes
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

One of the best ways to make a good impression in a job interview is to come prepared with well-thought-out questions.

This shows that you have done your research and are fully considering all aspects of whether the job is a good fit. And having them written down will ensure that your questions don’t slip your mind due to nerves and excitement.

Not sure what to ask? You should ask about the company culture, the team dynamic, and what kind of opportunities there are for growth and development.

What to Bring to a Remote Job Interview: a Glass of Water

glass of ice water
Tanadon Lertcharoensuk / Shutterstock.com

It’s also important to have a glass of water on hand. You’ll help prevent awkward pauses while collecting your thoughts and give you something to do with your hands.

Additionally, sipping on water throughout the interview will help keep your vocal cords lubricated, allowing you to speak more clearly and confidently.

What to Bring to a Remote Job Interview: Professional Footwear

Dress shoes
Vania Zhukevych / Shutterstock.com

As you’re getting ready for your video interview, it’s essential to pay attention to the details, even if they’re not necessarily things that will be seen on camera.

In that spirit, be mindful of your choice of footwear.

While it’s true that your interviewer may never see your shoes, it will help your mind shift to interview mode. And that way, if the camera catches a glimpse of them, you won’t feel awkward.

There’s no need to get fancy, though. Simply choose shoes that are professional and presentable.

What to Bring to a Remote Job Interview: Positive Thoughts

A young Asian woman wears a headset for on online meeting
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

A positive attitude is one of the most important things you can bring to a job interview, showing you’re excited about the opportunity and ready to work hard.

It also helps put the interviewer at ease because it portrays confidence in your ability to land the role — making it more likely that you’ll have a successful interview.

Of course, it’s essential to prepare for your interview and do your research on the company. But if you go into the meeting with a positive attitude, you have an excellent chance of overcoming any gaps in your experience and skill set.

What to Bring to an In-Person Job Interview: Printed Copies of Your Resume and Cover Letter

Submit your resume.
By TaLaNoVa / Shutterstock.com

Printing out your resume and cover letter is an easy way to make a positive impression on potential employers. This may seem small, but it can make a big impression on hiring managers.

A physical copy of your qualifications shows that you are prepared and organized — two essential qualities in any job.

What to Bring to an In-Person Job Interview: a Printed List of References

Handing resume to interviewer
Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

It’s a good idea to have a list of references with their contact information ready to go.

This way, if the interviewer asks for them, you’ll be able to provide them without delay. Ideally, your list should include both professional and personal references who can speak to your character and work ethic.

What to Bring to an In-Person Job Interview: Examples From Your Portfolio

Two men discuss a professional matter
Pressmaster / Shutterstock.com

Your portfolio is a great way to show potential employers what you’re capable of.

If you have samples of your work, it’s always a good idea to bring them with you when you go on interviews. That way, you can give the employer a physical copy that will help to make an impression.

And remember, portfolios aren’t just for artists. If you’re in a non-creative field, you can still use your portfolio to stand out from other candidates.

For example, if you’re a virtual assistant, you might bring a sample of a few reports or charts you’ve created.

What to Bring to an In-Person Job Interview: a Briefcase or Small Bag

A tablet in a vintage leather bag
Irina Bg / Shutterstock.com

Have everything you need neatly organized in a small bag or briefcase. Searching through a large purse for a pen or shuffling through a pile of papers for your resume will not make a good impression.

A padfolio or folder is ideal for carrying your materials and will help you keep everything neat and tidy.

What to Bring to an In-Person Job Interview: Printed Directions

Woman reading resume
fizkes / Shutterstock.com

Job interviews are inherently stressful. After all, you’re trying to make a good impression with your qualifications.

However, the stress level can increase exponentially if you’re interviewing in an unfamiliar location. In addition to the usual nerves, you have to worry about things like getting lost or being late.

To help reduce the stress level, be sure to print out the interview instructions and driving directions before you leave home. You’ll still have them if you can’t locate them on your phone at a critical point in your schedule.

And if you do manage to find your way without any trouble, you can always use the extra time to review your qualifications one last time.

What to Bring to an In-Person Job Interview: Breath Mints

Mints in a tin.
bscmediallc / Shutterstock.com

Popping a few can eliminate dry mouth and prevent bad-breath worries.

Just make sure you allow them ample time to dissolve before meeting anyone from the company — talking with food items in your mouth isn’t conducive to an excellent first impression if you happen to run into the hiring manager in the elevator.

Preparing for Your Interview

woman doing a job interview
Zivica Kerkez / Shutterstock.com

Both in-person and remote interviews have unique challenges and preparation needs. But no matter the format, the key to successful interviewing is to take the time to plan.

With some forethought, you can make a positive impression and stand out from the competition.

Get smarter with your money!

Want the best money-news and tips to help you make more and spend less? Then sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter to receive daily updates of personal finance news and advice, delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our free newsletter today.