Everything You Need To Pack For An Interview


[credit provider=”Seth Sawyers” url=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sidewalk_flying/4119129746/”]

You got that final round interview in San Francisco—and it’s time to pack your bag for the flight.Packing smart for an interview will help you show up calm, prepared, and looking your best, and without a handful of new bruises from lugging an over-sized trunk through the airport.

So, what do you really need to bring?

The Essentials

  • A carry-on suitcase. You’re going for—at most—a few days. You don’t need a full-size one.
  • 2 interview outfits. Pack clothes that will travel well: sheath dresses made of wool, rayon, or polyester blend and Brooks Brothers no-iron shirts are classic favourites. Know which outfit you’re planning to wear, but bring a back-up in case your first choice ends up wrinkled or just doesn’t fit right that morning.
  • Comfortable shoes. Heels look great, but make sure you can walk in them. You never know how many flights of stairs you’ll need to walk up, or just how big the inside of the office is.
  • A folder with at least 3 clean, up-to-date copies of your résumé (or 2 per interview, if you know you’ll have more than one), paper, and 2 working pens.
  • Your watch. You’ll want to keep track of time during your interview, especially if it’s a case or quant interview. And pulling out your cell phone to check is never a great option.
  • Cash. Taxis in most major cities are supposed to take credit cards these days, but having cash on hand can save you a huge headache and an argument with the driver if the machine mysteriously “breaks.” Cabs to and from the airport can be expensive, especially in big cities where the airport is outside city limits. If you’re going to New York, for example, having $200 on hand is a good idea.
  • Your phone. Make sure ahead of time to store any contact numbers you have from the company. And bring your charger.
  • Directions where you’re going. Google maps has an excellent iPhone app, but that isn’t going to tell you what floor to get off on, or what end of the hall you were supposed to go to meet your interviewer. Bring a hard copy of any directions your interviewers have sent you.
  • A small umbrella. Yes, even if the weather doesn’t say it was going to rain. It can rain year-round in most parts of the US (being from California, I had to learn this hard way), and it can’t hurt to be prepared.
  • An emergency kit: everything you hope you don’t need, but still should have. Advil, any allergy medication you regularly use, 3 tampons, a needle and black thread, and Band-Aids (excellent for blisters, if those shoes weren’t as comfortable as you thought)

The Extras: Everything You Need to Feel Good That Day

  • Make-up. Bring whatever you need to feel you’re looking your best. If that’s 3 shades of eyeshadow and 2 mascaras—bring them all; they aren’t that big.
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and anything else you need to do your favourite professional hair-do, particularly if you’re fussy about your hair products. If the hotel’s 2-in-1 combo doesn’t work for you, your interview is not the day to fight with it. Airline-friendly, empty 3 oz bottles are sold at most drug stores, and can come in handy here.
  • Jewelry to go with each of your outfits. Nothing flashy, but a classic pair of earrings or accent necklace can make an outfit.
  • Nylons or tights, if they’ll make you more comfortable or confident in your chosen outfits.
  • Extra socks and undies, because you never know when you might get stranded or extended for an extra day or two.
  • A snack. Granola bars or protein bars are great—easy to pack, not messy to eat, and good for an energy pick-me-up.
  • Something to read. If you have to wait for your interviewer, reading is a good way to keep yourself occupied, and a better choice than plugging into your iPod. Plus, your book or magazine can be a great conversation starter. That said, your choice of reading material will also give an impression of you—it doesn’t have to be The Economist, but make sure it’s nothing trashy.
  • Clothes to change into, once you’re back at the hotel. If you have time, go explore your new city! But no need to do it in your interview clothes.