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In this article, we talk about logistics for arriving at the interview and the materials that you should take with you.
So, you are excited about being offered a job interview. You may have applied directly to the company or worked through a recruiter. In either event, it will generally be someone from the company who calls and offers you the interview. At that time, they will provide you some information about the time, where to go, who will interview you, the interview schedule, etc. For large companies headquartered in other cities, the company will generally arrange or reimburse you for travel expenses (airline ticket and hotel).
In any event, you should make certain to take notes of the information. You should also ask that the details be emailed to you. If you can think of any clarifying questions at the moment, go ahead and ask them. If you cannot think of them offhand, don’t worry. You will have the opportunity to ask clarifying questions by replying to the email you receive with all of the interview information. Here are some things you will need to know or plan:
- Time – What time will the interview take place. You will need to estimate traffic and travel time to this location during the time period when you will be traveling.
- Building and Office Location – You need explicit instructions on how to arrive at the interview location. Most employers will provide a drawn map or detailed instructions for getting from the parking lot to the interview room.
- Parking – You need specific instructions on where to park. You may need a “visitor’s pass” or arrange for the company to validate parking.
- Schedule – How will your interview proceed. This is especially important if you have (or potentially have) two rounds of interview on the same day. This generally includes information about who will interview you, how long, and the sequence of events following the interview.
Once you receive this information, you should try to commit it to memory. You are going to have a lot on your mind on the day of the interview. You don’t want to have to focus that much on logistics.
As a practice tip, make certain to print out copies of any emails, instructions, etc., that you receive from the company. In the event there is a mix up (such as time of interview or location), you want to have the documentation to demonstrate that it was not a failure on your part. You can keep these things clipped together within your portfolio.
How early should you arrive?
Walk into the scheduled appointment 10-15 minutes early. You should arrive at the location at least 20 minutes early. In places where there is bad traffic, you may need to arrive even earlier to avoid traffic congestion. Arriving this early provides you the opportunity to study your notes on the company (more of this below).
- Tip: Do not park where everyone walking into the business location can see you sitting in your car. Also, make certain that your car is clean and presentable. You never know when your interviewer will see you in the car arriving, waiting, or leaving. It does not matter if you do not have a fancy car. But, having a dirty or strewn vehicle can make a negative impression on others.
Things to Bring With You
Generally, you will bring a portfolio and pad with you. This will be what you use to carry the relevant material. If you have multiple things to carry, you may bring a briefcase. In that event, you will still have your portfolio in the briefcase. Here is a checklist of things you may need in your briefcase or notebook.
- Resume – You need to bring multiple copies of your resume. You never know when it will be helpful to provide copies to individuals you meet as part of the interview process.
- List of Professional References – You may have already submitted a list of professional references along with the application for employment. In any event, it is helpful to keep a couple of copies of references in your notebook.
- Recommendations – You may have also submitted letters of recommendation. If no, it is a good time to introduce them during or at the conclusion of the interview process.
- Notepad – Within your portfolio, you will generally have a legal pad for taking notes. You will meet several people. It can be helpful to jot down names and basic information about people after meeting them. This will be very useful when you later send thank-you letters. In the event the interview involves case-based or quantitative assessments, having this paper on hand will also be useful.
- Professional looking pen – A professional-looking pen, like a suit or portfolio pad, looks professional. It simply signals that you take the interview process seriously and a professional appearance matters to you.
- Company Highlights – You should make some notes containing the quick highlights about what you know or should know about the company. I generally recommend making flashcards that you can review while waiting. See our article, Research the Job, Company, and Yourself for more information on the things you need to know.
- Questions – At the end of each phase of the interview, the interviewer will ask if you have any questions for him/her/them. You should prepare a list of questions you could potentially ask. In reality, these questions are more of an opportunity for you to show that you are interested in the company and have done your research.
- Practice Note: I recommend that you develop good questions about the company that an interviewer at various stages would know. It is always good to ask about procedural aspects of operations, company culture, career paths within the company, long-term company strategy, etc. My advice is to only ask questions that you already know the answer to. This will avoid the scenario where you are surprised or prepare unprepared.
- Practice Note 2: Two questions that I recommend are: “What does the perfect candidate for this position look like?” This will cause the interviewer to naturally begin to list qualifications that you have or begin to associate you with those qualities. The other question applies in all types of interviews, but it is very useful in panel interviews (multiple interviewers). “Is there anything in my answers that give you cause for concern or that I could answer more thoroughly?” This causes the interviewer to review their notes and bring up anything that may cause them concern. First, it gives you an opportunity to alleviate their concern. Second, if the interviewer does not raise the concern, it makes it less likely that they can or will bring up the concern when later evaluating you.