While the topic of what to bring to an interview seems relatively basic, I thought I would provide my take on some not so typically thought of inclusions for when meeting a hiring manager from a prospective employer.
With fear of overstating the obvious there is the “dress for success” piece of the agenda. In this day and time with a preponderance of businesses allowing their employees to dress “business casual” the question arises about the interview dress code. It seems I’m often asked how to handle it when the decision maker suggests that because he / she will be dressed business casually it would be OK for the interviewee to do the same. Well I don’t think so! The day-to-day attire of the employees and/or hiring executive should be noted but I recommend when being told of the option to do so a candidate should mention his or her intention to be “dressed for an interview.”
This may seem contrary to the traditional tact taken by other professional coaches, but I contend the interview is about you and not necessarily the desire of the interviewer to conduct business as usual. It has to do with the mind set of you controlling the interview and determining whether or not you wish to offer your unique talents to the company in question. I suggest to my clients that when discussing the appropriate dress for the meeting that they mention there may be other meetings during the day that require the wearing of a business suit.
What To Bring With You To The Interview
As for accessories I recommend a professional looking business portfolio or folder. Interestingly enough the question about this seemingly simple detail comes up frequently. While there are many options from which to choose I prefer something in black…black for business, and if one can afford it go for leather. Of course putting your best foot forward during the interview process is important, but after landing that next logical career opportunity one can put that business portfolio to good use as you navigate the very choppy waters of the ocean that is corporate America.
So what should one include in their business portfolio? Copies of your resume anticipating several meetings even if you are expecting to see only one person…you just never know! It probably goes without saying but a quality resume paper is recommended.
Often overlooked is the need for including your references, letters of recommendation, or endorsements. I’m not referring to a list with names, phone numbers and E-mail addresses, but actual letters. There is a method to my madness here that depending on the situation one just might expedite matters and drive an offer. I have absolutely had clients that have been offered jobs during the very first interview. If the hiring executive has done his or her homework, prides him or herself on being a decision-maker and is under pressure to fill the position and it so happens your credentials match those of the job description…be prepared to accept on the spot!
Sometimes it goes like this; “I’m convinced you’re qualifications are impeccable and I would like to offer you the position pending references.” Strike while the iron’s hot and produce the written endorsements right then and there. If the hiring manager feels the need to speak with the individuals be sure to have included the contact information in the content of the letter.
What else should be in the portfolio? Make sure to have your list of questions to ask the interviewer. The interrogator type of interviewer rarely allows you to pursue a line of questioning, but it’s your prerogative and you need to be ready.
So compile a list of questions and I suggest you print them with a large font so as to make that person aware that you mean business and are totally prepared. Know that questions about your potential salary and/or vacation time are not appropriate but inquiring about the integral inner workings of the company is. Ask what keeps the hiring executive awake at night or if Wall Street gyrations affect the day-to-day business climate. If you’ll be working in a team environment, inquire about the make-up. The point is to learn as much about the opportunity as possible and skillfully make an impact on the individual who would be your boss.
I very often use the phrase “deliver the goods” when given a chance to interview for a rewarding and purposeful career possibility. At speaking engagements I reward people in the audience for coming up with correct answers to questions I ask pertaining to the content. One very basic question I pose has to do with the overall or ultimate question the hiring manager is asking when conducting an interview. It’s not about what you will do for them or how well you’ll fit into the culture of the organization and has little to do with how you believe you’ll impact the bottom line of the business. It is simply “Why should I hire you?” You must convince the person behind the desk that they should hire you because…
So bring your very best sales presentation and in closing make sure to tell the hiring executive why it is they should hire you. The interview signals the fact that its game-on…why not bring your “A Game”?