Many people approach interviews as if they were interrogations where the interviewer grills the poor applicant to tell the whole truth, nothing but the truth. So the interviewee will typically go to the meeting having memorized answers to tons of questions as well as information about the company and the position, questions to ask, etc. Having all this content rolling around in one’s head, in addition to extreme nervousness and the thought of screwing up, is a lot of pressure for anyone to deal with.
But here’s a little known secret: You can bring materials to the interview that can help you promote your skills and keep your thinking focused. This can help you look more professional, by seeming organized and remaining calm during the interview.
There are a number of resources you can bring to an interview, including:
Extra copies of your resume
Especially if you have updated the information you want to share.
A portfolio or nice folder that include notes from your research
When you first sit down, feel free to immediately open your folder so you can be ready to refer to it or take notes. The portfolio can include material you used to prepare for the interview (the job description, employer information, etc.).
You can bring your iPad and refer to it during the interview. Since tablets are new to the interviewing realm, I would ask the interviewer for permission prior to using it during the interview. For example, “Yes, I have several questions. Do you mind if I refer to my notes?”
List of prepared questions
You should have many questions prepared, because asking them shows that you are interested in the organization and the position, and that you took the time to prepare for the interview.
If applicable, samples of your work
Of course, this doesn’t apply to all positions, but if you have examples of what you’ve written, created or developed, bring them to show what you can do.
List of references
Calling references is typically the last activity an employer does prior to making an offer. So why wait to be asked to provide references after the interview? Providing a list of references before you depart the interview is a sign that you’re proactive and also that you have people who can speak on your behalf.
Remember, since they’ve taken the time to bring you in to interview, they believe you have the potential to do the job. Your job at the interview is to prove that they didn’t make a mistake!
Preparing for and treating your interview as a ‘professional conversation’ will serve you well, and bringing material the above will help you nail an offer.
Vic has a passion for working with students and professionals who are preparing to establish careers on a global stage. He has extensive experience in leadership, career and organizational development in both the public and private sectors. Currently, he is a career counselor and adjunct associate professor for the University of Minnesota Law School, where he provides career path, job search strategy, and life-work balance counseling for law students, alumni, and foreign-trained attorneys. He is also principal of Cygnus 360, a career development consultancy that helps career counselors, career services offices, and clients with their career needs which include creating their brands using social networking tools and other technology. Vic is currently serving on the board for the National Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP). He is a former board member for the Minnesota Career Development Association (MCDA), past president of the Minnesota Legal Career Professionals City Group, and former director of learning for the Minnesota Organization Development Network. You can follow Vic at Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.