What to take with you to a job interview

The Job Studio - Birmingham Careers Advice and Coaching
By Sarah Blunt
woman holding handbag who has decided what to take to an interview

You don’t have to put too much effort into planning what to take to an interview, but on the day there are a few things you shouldn’t walk out of the door without.

What to take to an interview: The essentials

Deciding what to take to an interview can be an additional stress you could do without, but don't forget these six must-have items:

1. Anything the employer has asked you to bring!

This may seem obvious but you'd be surprised how many candidates turn up to their interview without the documents their interviewers wanted them to bring. It’s not uncommon for recruiters to ask candidates to bring identification with them, or in some industries a portfolio of work. Don’t get caught out and make sure you take what your recruiters has asked for.

2. Copies of your CV or application

When considering what to take to an interview, most people overlook their application. Although your interviewers should have this information already, it’s best to take enough copies of your CV or application for each interviewer plus one extra for you. If one of your interviewers has forgotten to print off a copy of your CV then when you supply them with one they will be impressed.

3. Breath freshener

First impressions are important, so don’t ruin them by having bad breath. Take mints of a breath freshener spray and use it just before the interview. Avoid chewing gum, it looks unprofessional and can be a pain to get rid of.

4. Contact details for the employer

It’s unlikely you’ll need to contact the company you are interviewing with on the day of your interview, but just in case you do make sure you have a contact’s name and telephone number. The last thing you want to do is be running late or held up somewhere without any way of contacting them. It's best to have this on a bit of paper so you're covered if your phone battery dies.

5. Directions

It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve looked at the route beforehand, if you're interviewing in a new or unfamilar location take directions with you both to and from your interview. What happens if your train doesn’t show up or you have to take a different route? What if your phone stops working mid-way through the journey? Print your directions out so you're covered.

6. A notepad and pen

Have you ever been in an interview and noticed your interviewer taking notes on what you say? Unfortunately it’s not really possible for you to do the same. However, if you take a notepad and pen along then after the interview you can jot down the questions you were asked and the responses you gave while they are fresh in your mind. This will help you prepare for future interviews or be a really great reminder of what you said if you get called back for a second interview.

What to take to an interview: Other items to consider

Although perhaps not absolutely essential, here are a few more items you might want to pack:

An umbrella

When selecting what to take for a job interview, this should be top of your list if there's any chance of rain. Checking the weather before an interview is a no-brainer. If you live somewhere where rain is a fairly common occurrence it’s best to take an umbrella. No one wants to get caught out by a rain shower and have to sit soaking wet in their interview.


This should be provided during the interview, but if you’re thirsty immediately before or after it’s a good idea to have your own bottle. Just make sure it doesn’t leak in your bag!

Examples of your work

For some industries you'll be expected to present a portfolio of your previous work to your interviewers. If this isn't required consider the impact of providing examples of projects or previous work will have in an interview situation and if you think it would be beneficial then take it along with you.

Choosing what to take to an interview doesn't have to be stressful. Stay cool, calm and collected by preparing well in advance and for every eventuality!