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Top 5 Things To Bring To A Job Interview

July 14, 2014

Interviewing for a new job can be nerve-wracking. Similar to a first date where you are trying so hard to make a first impression or suffer the consequences of not getting asked out a second time, a job interview is like a high-stakes courtship.

But the more prepared you are, the more likely you’ll exude confidence and be able to sit in the driver’s seat during that interview.

Remember that preparation is more than a new suit and shiny shoes. In fact, despite the hours you’ve already invested in researching companies, preparing your resume and applying for jobs, you still have more work to do.

The interview requires energy beyond showing up and answering questions. You must be proactive and invest time organizing your presentation for this big meeting. Just as if you were preparing for a big presentation for a client to sell them on a product or service – you are preparing to sell the interviewer on YOU.

Want to make a great first impression? Don’t forget the following items for your first interview/meeting with a hiring executive:

1. Your resume. Yes you already sent one. But they may not have it in front of them when you meet or may want another copy to share with someone else in the interview. Make sure you use high-quality resume paper and that your ink cartridge is full before printing this important document. You should also conduct additional research on the company, the department, the hiring manager, and/or the general state of the industry before the interview, and as a result, it may prompt you to adjust your resume to better fit the position and company.

2. A cover letter. Yes, you already sent this too BUT it will add value if you have another copy with you. And if possible, find out the name and title of the person or persons with whom you will be interviewing and customize your inside address
and salutation. Then, create a fresh, brief introductory message that emphasizes your enthusiasm and interest, plus the value you’d bring to the position.

3. Your references. Having references on hand is good, even if you choose not to hand them off during the first job interview (gauge where you are in the process at the end of the meeting and determine whether the timing is right to distribute the references). Ensure you include the necessary reference information to make it easy for the reader: name, company, title, direct phone line (their preferred telephone number), and email address. Also, connect the relationship dots between you and the reference. Explain in writing that they were your boss, customer, direct report, etc.

4. A strategic plan. Depending upon the particular interview situation, you may also want to arrive bearing a strategic plan that will further “wow” the employer with your preparedness and initiative. For example, if you’re applying for a sales manager role, you may be privy to the fact that the team you’ll be leading is demoralized, has high turnover, and declining performance. Your three month plan should cover three things: One, a quick assessment of the current situation. Two, steps you’d take to begin turning the ship around. And three, measurable objectives you will meet meet by the end of that time period.

5. Your portfolio. Portfolios add value, especially for graphic artists, other creative folks, and sales professionals. For example, a salesperson’s portfolio is called a “brag book,” and for obvious reasons. Content may include testimonial letters and emails from bosses, clients, colleagues, and vendors along with colorful sales charts or graphs showing your success.

You won’t get a second chance at this first impression, so heightening your presentation at the interview is important. Outfitting yourself with these five items may not guarantee you the job, but they will assure you that you’ve done all you can to put your best interview foot forward.

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