Don’t come empty-handed, but don’t waste interview time with your portfolio.
Your resume worked: You’ve scored an interview. Your shoes are polished, and your business suit is back from the dry cleaner’s. Now, what do you pack into your briefcase?
Professional recruiters such as Jacqueline Hudson, a senior account executive for Renascent Group LLC, prep job candidates before an interview to make sure their briefcases — and their heads — contain all the documentation they need.
“We send them articles as well as questions that may be asked and information on the company to make sure they really know what they’re going into,” Hudson said.
To make sure that you, too, are prepared for what you’re going into, here’s a check list of what to take to an interview as well as what to leave behind, gleaned from recruiters, resume writers and job seekers.
What to take:
1. Resume hard copies
The interviewer likely has a hard copy, but it is good practice to have several copies printed and ready to provide the interviewer and others you might meet on interview day.
Stephen Van Vreede, an MBA and certified professional resume writer who works with Ladders, suggests clients provide a separate document with references only if an interviewer asks for it. “A lot of people will try to go in and dump this stuff on the interviewer,” Van Vreede said. “You want to only provide it when asked.”
Van Vreede advises job seekers provide three professional references. These don’t have to be letters; in the case of professional references, a simple list will do. Include references’ names, company name, titles and contact information. For personal references, specify the nature of the personal relationship. While most job seekers now provide mostly professional references, don’t skimp on personal references if the reference has a relationship with the company.
3. Resume addenda
An addendum is any documentation that supports a claim (usually a bullet point) in your resume. It is mostly used for IT candidates to provide details on projects they’ve managed or programs and systems they’ve developed. Van Vreede recommends candidates use an addendum as a way to prevent a resume from getting bogged down with details but still have details ready upon request. It should include details such as cost savings, vendors you’ve engaged and efficiency gains.
But don’t use an addendum to bog down the interview, either, Van Vreede said. He suggests describing a given project verbally in the interview, then offering to leave the addendum with interviewer.
A professional portfolio is appropriate for showcasing materials created in the course of work, especially by creative professionals, including marketing pros, those in media or advertising, architects, or artists.
5. PowerPoint presentations
If applicable, offer to show presentations in place of or in addition to addendums and portfolios. Be careful not to overtake the interview or waste the hiring manager’s time.
6. Insightful questions (four to five)
Insightful questions pertain to a specific organization’s history, marketing tactics, standing amongst its competition, future and/or past product offerings, research and development, leadership, philosophy, and/or work environment.
Renascent Group’s Hudson advises job candidates to have at least four or five questions to ask an interviewer. The most insightful questions show that you’ve done your homework. You’ve read news articles about the company and won’t be surprised if the interviewer mentions, for example, that it’s recently undergone a data breach and is revamping its point-of-sales technologies. Or perhaps the organization has run afoul of regulatory compliance and plans to remap data backup procedures.
The more knowledge you have about an organization’s pain points and points of pride, the better you’ll be able to suggest ways that you can help with your specific accomplishments, experience and core competencies.
Demonstrating knowledge about the company also accomplishes a number of things:
- It relieves your interviewer of the task of educating you.
- it gives you a chance to delve into your own credentials.
- it demonstrates that you are competent regarding doing your due diligence when approaching an opportunity.
- it demonstrates that you are motivated about the position and the company.
7. News articles or corporate collateral that mentions you or your work
8. Certification list
IT professionals often come with a “boatload” of certifications, said Steve Burdan, a CPRW certified professional resume writer who works with Ladders. He advises clients to put the “creme de la creme” of this list onto their resumes and to put the entire list onto a separate sheet to provide interviewers if appropriate.
What to omit:
1. Generic questions
Generic questions pertain to issues intelligent job seekers should have found out on their own. If a job seeker needs to ask an interviewer how large the company is, for example, or what countries the company does business in, he obviously didn’t invest time in researching the organization.
2. Cell phones
Don’t forget to turn off your cell phone during interviews.
3. PDAs or beepers
Same goes for all mobile devices. You might need your PDA or mobile device to access your schedule or other data, if requested by the interviewer. But be sure to disable the phone function during the meeting.