7 Items To Bring to a Job Interview

Updated July 31, 2023

You’ve applied to a job, received the callback and probably passed a phone screen. This means it’s time for the in-person interview. Take a moment to congratulate yourself at this stage—it’s taken a lot of hard work and persistence to get here. Once you’ve mentally prepared and chosen what you’re going to wear, the last step is making sure you’re bringing the right items.

In this article, we discuss the seven most important items to bring with you to a job interview.

What to bring to a job interview

1. Copies of your resume

Bring at least five resume copies. Keep them in a separate folder or professional folio so they don’t bend or wrinkle and are easy to access.

2. Pen and paper

Take notes on the questions your interviewers ask or surprising insights they share. You can use these notes to follow up later in a thank you email.

3. Pre-written questions for your interviewers

When you are putting the resume copies and the blank paper in your folder or folio, also add at least two or three pre-written questions for your interviewers to have on hand. It’s good to write them down ahead of time in case your mind suddenly goes blank when you get the question, “Do you have any questions?”

Related: Phone Interview Tips to Get You to the Next Round

4. A list of references

Your interviewers may not ask you for a list of references, but it’s good to be prepared in case they do.

References should be people who can speak to your professional abilities and achievements. If you don’t have much work experience or can’t easily identify people to be your references, consider any groups or volunteer activities you’ve been a part of. Former teachers or community leaders who can address your commitment and work ethic are strong options as well. Do not include family members and avoid listing friends.

Reference List Format
Image description

Reference List Format

  1. Reference name

  2. Reference position

  3. Reference company

  4. Reference address

  5. Reference phone number

  6. Reference email address

  7. Reference description

Reference List Example:

Linda Martinez

Director of Sales, North America

ABC Company

1234 Main St.

Austin, TX 78701



Linda was my direct manager while I worked as a regional sales manager for the ABC Company from 2013 to 2017.

Joeseph Smith

Professor, McCombs School of Business

The University of Texas at Austin

2110 Speedway

Austin, TX 78712



Joseph Smith was my professor through numerous courses I completed to earn my Masters of Business Administration.

Related: How To Ask Someone To Be Your Reference

Include their name, title, department, organization, phone number, and email address. You should also include a short sentence about their relationship to you—for example, "I reported to Monica for two years in my role as a sales associate."

If you have time before your interview, get in touch with the people on your list. A call, email or coffee date is a great opportunity to ask them what stood out about working with you in the past, what areas they see for improvement, and what advice they’d give to your next manager.

Print out five copies and keep them in a folder so they don’t bend. If you aren’t asked for your references during the interview, you can ask if they are needed at the very end.

Related: Follow-up Email Examples for After the Interview

5. Breath mints or floss

Bring along something to help maintain great oral hygiene. Whether it’s mints, gum, floss or a toothbrush and toothpaste, choose the option that will make you feel clean and confident.

6. A bag, briefcase or portfolio that neatly contains all your items

Once you have the things you need to bring to the interview, you should decide how you’ll organize and carry them. The goal is to look put together and unburdened. Choose a handbag, briefcase, messenger bag or portfolio that can hold everything and looks professional. Backpacks are appropriate for some settings but not for others. Use your best judgment based on the company research you’ve done and what you know about their culture.

7. Directions on how to get to the interview

After all your careful preparation, don’t let a late arrival undermine your chances of getting the job. You should plan to arrive 10–15 minutes early, and you should study your route to the interview beforehand. If you’re using public transportation, add extra time to account for delays or unexpected interruptions. If you’re driving, be sure you have information about parking—if you’re working with a recruiter, you can ask them to provide these details.

If after all this preparation you are still running late, call the office or recruiter you are working with and let them know. More often than not they will be understanding, but it is important to be respectful of their time.

Related: How To Ace Your Final Interview

Frequently asked questions

Can I bring notes to a job interview?

Yes, you may bring notes to a job interview, especially if you've questions you plan on asking the interviewer. Make sure not to rely too much on the notes, to show you're prepared. Research the company and job details before the interview to make a positive impression on the interviewer and avoid confusion.

Is it appropriate to bring a gift to a job interview?

It's inappropriate to bring a gift to a job interview. Bringing a gift could distract the employers or create an awkward situation. It's good to avoid the perception of influencing the hiring decision or creating a sense of obligation during the interview process.

Is it OK to ask what to bring to an interview?

Yes, you can ask what to bring to an interview when a hiring manager contacts you about your candidacy. This would help you stay prepared and avoid any confusion. You can also prepare a checklist of items to bring, such as the number of resume copies, reference sheets or certificates.

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