6 Things to Bring to an Interview (and 6 Things to Hide)

Quill-2011Journalists should always be prepared. That’s why it’s crucial that you bring these six items to every interview. If you forget something, your interviewer (most likely an editor) may think you’re a space cadet—not a good first impression!

Here’s what to bring:
1. Copies of your resume: Bring at least three—one for the interviewer, one for you to reference and an extra. If you know you’re meeting with multiple people, print several more. Make sure the copies are clean and crisp. Carry them in a folder or professional portfolio.

2. Notepad: Journalists always carry notepads, so look the part. Plus, you may need to jot down a few quick notes like names or details about benefits.

3. Pen: A journalist without a pen is an abomination. Carry two in case one runs out.

4. Portfolio of work/Demo reel: Most tech-savvy journalists showcase their published articles on portfolio websites; however, it’s still important to bring a book of clips that the interviewer can easily thumb through. Make sure the portfolio is professional and showcases your work in a clean, easy-to-read way. If you have an iPad or tablet, bring it so you can quickly show off your portfolio website and/or demo reel, too, if needed. Remember, some interviews take place in conference rooms where computers aren’t readily available.

5. Business cards: Give one to your interviewer. Your card will remind him or her of your interview and (hopefully) your stellar skills.

6. References: Interviewers rarely ask for a sheet of references. But if you have to fill out an application for human resources, you often need to fill in references with phone numbers and email addresses. Have them on hand just in case.

6 Things to Hide During an Interview
At an interview, you want to make the best impression possible. That’s why you should never show any of these items while meeting with a potential employer. If you have them with you, keep them hidden in your purse or business bag.

1. Food: Never eat during an interview, unless your interviewer invites you to share a meal or a snack. If you eat beforehand, ALWAYS check your teeth for lodged food.

2. Coffee or any kind of beverage: Always finish and toss your Starbucks coffee before you enter an interview. If you carry a water bottle, keep it hidden away. If the interviewer offers you a beverage, it’s fine to accept. (Politely decline alcoholic beverages, though!)

3. Cell phone: You may be tempted to check emails or Tweet during your meeting, but that’s simply rude. Before your interview, silence your phone or turn it off, then tuck it away in your purse or pocket.

4. Gum: Always spit out gum (discretely, of course) before entering an interview. I’ve made this mistake before, but I pushed the gum into the back of my cheek with my tongue so I wouldn’t chomp like a cow as I talked.

5. Chipped nail polish: Ladies, it’s better to have clean, bare nails than chipped nail polish. Chipped polish, as well as wild nail designs, look unprofessional and careless in an interview. Same goes for your toes. If you can’t get a quick pedicure before your meeting, wear closed-toe shoes. I recommend wearing closed-toe shoes anyway, although some peep-toe shoes can look professional, too. Guys, make sure to trim and clean your nails.

6. Too much skin: Beware of low-cut blouses, bare arms and mini skirts. Always wear a professional jacket, even if it’s 90 degrees out. If it’s summer, ladies, bare legs are fine. In fall, winter and early spring, I always opt for black opaque tights. Sheer hose, whether nude or black, can look very dated. And guys, don’t go sockless!

A few more tips for making a good first impression…

6 Things to do to Look Good for an Interview
1. Get a haircut and/or touch up your roots
2. Groom facial hair (guys AND gals)
3. Shine your shoes
4. Dry clean and/or iron your interview clothes
5. Get plenty of sleep the night before
6. That morning, depuff under-eye bags with an ice pack

Do you have any interview tips to add to these lists? If so, let us know!

Jennifer Nicole Sullivan is the vintage fashion writer/editor at About.com and a contributing writer at Newport Mercury. Previously, she was a copywriter at Real Simple magazine and a features reporter at Corpus Christi Caller-Times. Jennifer is based in NYC, but she’s still a Dallas girl! Connect with her on Twitter @trendyjenny or learn more at jennifernicolesullivan.com.

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