By Sarah Self
It's the night before an important job interview. You've researched the company, thought through every possible question and picked up your best suit from the drycleaners. What else can you do to make the interview a successful experience? Prepare a few more valuable tools to bring with you. The following items can keep you focused and organized, and help prove that you are an excellent candidate for the position.
Always bring a collection of your past work to an interview. This portfolio can include articles, reports, proposals and other writing and work samples. Employers like to know that candidates have taken initiative and completed successful projects in previous positions, and concrete examples are a great way to show off your past accomplishments. If a complete portfolio isn't a possibility, prepare a list of past projects and accomplishments to give to the interviewer.
A complete list of references is another important tool to have with you on an interview. Don't wait for the interviewer to ask-give them the list and let them know that you are comfortable with past employers speaking on your behalf. If possible, you could even provide letters of recommendation from your references, giving your interviewer an immediate idea of how happy past employers have been with your work.
Be prepared for the interview by reading through company materials and the company's web site. Then print out the important pages of the site and take them with you. They will serve as a great review of the company while you wait to be interviewed. You can also use them to ask questions about the company, and the interviewer will know that you have spent time researching the company prior to the interview.
A final suggestion: bring a list of questions. An interviewer will almost always ask you if you have any questions, and you may not always be able to remember them after a long or demanding interview. If you pull out a list of your questions (and also add notes to it during the interview) you will be sure to ask all of your questions and get the answers you need to make an intelligent decision. This also demonstrates your responsibility in preparation and genuine interest in the company.
Don't forget to make copies of everything you bring to leave with your interviewer. They serve as excellent reminders of you and your interview once you have left the office. When you are being compared with other candidates for the job, an excellent project sample or glowing letter of recommendation can be very persuasive on your behalf.
In an interview, the right materials paint a picture of a candidate who is organized, responsible and prepared. And it can make you feel that way too! A potential employer will appreciate the fact that you've taken the time to present a well-rounded picture of your professional career and that you are genuinely interested in the position. Interviews are often intimidating, but the right tools can make the process much easier, and often more successful.
Sarah Self is the Public Relations Manager for CareerBank.com. She focuses on CareerBank.com's placement in the media, as well as managing the site's content. Sarah writes articles covering career development and human resource issues, especially those related to the accounting and finance industries.