10 Things You Must Bring to Any Interview, Even a Video Interview

As the COVID-19 economy reopens, millions of people either have to search for new jobs or switch from one type of job to another. Chances are, you are one of those people, and your interview will probably be over the phone or online as a video interview. One of the biggest interview tips I can give you is that a phone or video interview is much more similar to an in-person one than you realize. As such, there are several things you need to bring to an interview; whether it is in-person or on video.

1. Your résumé

If it is an in-person interview, you need to bring printed copies of your résumé. Before printing it, make sure that it does not contain any grammatical errors and looks exactly the way you want it to.

If it is a video interview, you need to have your final résumé for the job saved in a separate folder, formatted correctly and named professionally. You’ll probably have sent it on beforehand, but if any of the interviewers do not have it handy, you should be able to post it in the video interview group at the drop of a hat.

2. A pen and notepad

In-person interview venues don’t usually provide the interviewees with pens and notepads. However, you might need one, if only to doodle and calm your nerves while waiting for your turn. Alternatively, if you are given tasks during an interview, you would need a pen and paper handy. You might also want to note down any tasks or notes they give you when the interview concludes.

On the other hand, before a video interview commences, you need to place a pen and notepad right next to your computer or laptop. You cannot make notes on your laptop while you are being interviewed. Not only will that obscure your view of the interviewers, the noise of you typing will carry over loudly to each of them and will probably irritate them. This is one of those interview tips that will up your phone interview game as well: during a phone interview, sit down in a chair and keep a pen and paper handy to make note of any instructions the interviewer gives you. After the video interview, write down your impressions, and anything you want to bring up in future calls, before accepting a job.

3. References

Most job openings ask for references, so get ahead of the questions and arrange signed references. Fill your LinkedIn with recommendations. You will need to discuss references even during a video interview, so make sure you have written references or recommendations from prior bosses, clients, or colleagues.

4. Thank you notes

Another one of the interview tips that may seem awkward but which will reap dividends is having thank you notes at the ready for giving at the reception, or nestled within the folder of documents you give to your interviewers. Adding a thank you note not only makes people look on you more favorably, it can give you an edge over other candidates in any customer-facing positions.

During a video interview, the equivalent would be taking a couple of minutes at the end of the interview to thank all your interviewers succinctly and confidently. You would also need to add a “thank you” line in the body of any email you send with your documentation or job testing tasks attached.

5. Folder

Before you leave for an in-person interview, you need to prepare a folder with the printouts of all the documents you may need during the interview. Bonus points if your folder has labelled sections, which allow you to cut down any time you spend looking for documents to 3-5 seconds.

For a video interview, you need to create a folder saved on the desktop of your computer, open and ready for accessing during the interview. Each document must be labelled with the entire contents. For example, if you have your educational documents scans in one file, the document should say “High School and Undergrad Diploma Scans”, not just “Education”. Add a suffix with your name in the title of each document. So that earlier document would actually be titled “High School and Undergrad Diploma Scans – John Smith”.

6. Water (not breath mints or any other food)

You cannot bring food to your interview. Some of the interview tips websites state that you should have breath mints on hand during an interview. I would disagree; chewing on anything during an interview, or while you are waiting for the interview to start, conveys a bad impression. You need to take care of your breath and eat any food you need before the interview. If the interview is very early in the morning, wake up even earlier and eat what you need to keep your energy levels up. However, you should take your own water and keep it in the briefcase or bag you take with you. If water is already provided at the interview venue, drink that instead and keep your bottle in your bag.

If you have a video interview, you need to keep water on hand, close by, so that if your throat feels dry, you don’t have to excuse yourself and fetch some water. Talking while your throat is parched and your voice cracks is also not an option.

10 Things You Must Bring to an Interview

7. Portfolio, examples of your work

For any artistic job, it’s a no-brainer to take your portfolio to the interview. However, it is a good idea to bring examples of your work to any interview. If you’ve written blogs, bring copies. If you’ve spearheaded social media campaigns, bring printouts. If you’ve managed an office, take the time to think about quantifiable successes you had and any evidence you have of those successes. Physical evidence helps people understand what you’re capable of, and gives weight to success metrics that might otherwise sound like buzzwords.

For a video interview, you need to save PDFs of your work; easily accessible. If possible, connect a separate monitor to the computer on which you have your interview, and keep the folder with all your documents open on that.

8. Business card

Keep your business card ready during any in-person or video interview. This only applies to mid-level positions, not entry-level ones, but you should make sure you have a business card ready and printed (or saved as a PDF) if the interviewers ask you for one. You might also want to give them your card right before you leave.

9. Identification

This is one of those things people forget with alarming regularity: you need to have your identification on hand when going to an interview. Even if it is a video interview, you need to make sure your identification is scanned onto your computer, or that you have high-resolution images saved in an easily accessible file on your computer.

10. Questions

You need to prepare these beforehand, and not try to come up with them on the spot. Take the time to read the job description, and go over the organization’s website and history. Come up with questions pertinent to your experience and to the job you’re applying for. This is important for both in-person and video interviews because the difference between someone who’s done their homework and someone who hasn’t is very apparent in this section of the interview.

If you take the time to organize these 10 things and have them on hand for the interview, it will not only lend you an extra assurance that you are well prepared but also create a good impression. Best of luck with your interview!

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