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June 16, 2014 at 1:00 AM

What to take to your next job interview

Imagine this: You arrive at your job interview confident and excited. As you begin, the hiring manager says, “Oh, I don’t have a copy of your resume. Do you have an extra one with you?” You don’t. Yikes!

Being prepared, which includes having key documents with you, can increase your chances for a successful interview. You’d be surprised by how many times I’ve had job interviews where hiring managers didn’t have a copy of my resume — or even the application I had already submitted.

Here’s a list of the most important items to take on job interviews:

Your resume. Bring two or three extra copies of your resume, because you never know when you’ll be asked to interview with others in the department or with the hiring manager’s boss. It’s always best to have more than you think you’ll need.

Your reference list. Same here; bring a few extra copies.

Recommendation letters. You won’t need as many copies of these, but they make a great “leave behind” for the hiring manager to review after your interview. Let’s say you have three recommendation letters; make two sets (staple each set together) and leave the originals at home.

Portfolio of work. Examples of your work can be a helpful way to demonstrate your expertise, such as marketing materials you’ve created or projects you’ve led. Use a portfolio to set yourself apart from other candidates and to demonstrate the quality of your work to hiring managers.

Paper and pen. Always bring a pen and notepad. Before you take any notes, ask the interviewer if it’s OK for you to do so during the interview.

Other items to consider, in case you’re offered (and you accept) the position on the spot:

Driver’s license. Your driver’s license is a picture identification document. You’ll need this when you’re asked to fill out the HR paperwork.

Passport. Many companies now ask for two photo IDs for verification purposes.

Social Security card. Some employers might allow you to simply write down your Social Security number, but most require signed verification that an HR employee has seen the card (many will also make a copy of it).

Fact sheet. Create this for yourself before your interview. It should list the names, addresses, phone numbers and work dates for each job you’ve held. Many companies ask for this information as part of their new-hire paperwork because it aids them in conducting background checks before officially hiring a candidate.

Lisa Quast is the founder of Career Woman, Inc., and the author of the book Secrets of a Hiring Manager Turned Career Coach. Email her at

More in Work Life Blog | Topics: career advancement, career change, hiring, interviewing, resumes

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Blog contributors

Randy Woods Writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.

Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.

Former contributors

Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant.

Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."

Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.

Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.


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