3 mins read

5 Things to Take to Your First Interview (& One to Leave Behind!)

12 April 2021   |   by Explore Careers

If you caught our blog post last week, you should already be pretty clued up on how to go about setting yourself up for interview success (it’s all in the preparation) and have a few tactics for calming those interview nerves!

But what about the actual interview itself?

Many young people ask us what they should be taking to their interview, and it’s actually a pretty good question to think about.

Following on from preparing for your interview, we’re shining a light on the five things you should be taking to your interview. And what to leave behind!

1. Your Identification

Depending on where your interview is being held, you might need to provide ID (this can often be the case if attending interviews for government programs and roles). You may also be asked to provide ID if you’re attending an assessment centre, so it’s generally a good idea to make sure you have some on you and be prepared.

2. A Copy of Your Resume and Application

Many interviewers start their conversations with applicants by discussing their resume and application. Don’t give yourself the sweats on the day if you know you’re likely to forget things; take a copy with you. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with having it on the table to refer to when asked questions so you can clarify your answers. You might also like to take a notebook with dot points of key information you want to use in response to common interview questions.

Far from seeming forgetful, this type of thing can actually demonstrate that you’re organised and self-aware.

3. Anything the Employer Asked For

Make sure you read through your interview invitation email carefully, including any attachments and know whether the employer has asked you to take anything specific. Sometimes an employer might ask you to prepare a short presentation on a topic related to the role, or they may ask you to bring proof of qualifications and/or grades.

If you’re unsure or the email is unclear, set yourself up for success by emailing a few days beforehand and asking if there is anything the employer would like you to bring. It’s always better to look like you’ve paid attention rather than missed vital information.

4. A Professional Handshake

One of the things many employers say they find off-putting about candidates is a weak or unprofessional handshake! It’s a tiny thing that can actually make or break your first impression. A professional handshake should be:

  • Firm but not too tight – Don’t squeeze the other person’s hand!
  • Dry (no one likes to shake a sweaty hand!)
  • Met with a smile and greeting – Repeating the person’s name as you greet them can help you remember it later.

In a post-COVID world, handshakes have generally been off the table, but this is changing. It’s still important to keep social distancing measures in mind too.

5. A Confident Smile

When we’re nervous, it can be really easy to forget about simple things like how our facial expressions are doing. Just as a poor handshake can create a wrong first impression, an anxious frowning face will do the same.

If you feel your nerves taking over, remember to take three deep, calming breaths. Relax your shoulders, unclench your jaw and remember: you can do this! When meeting the employer for the first time, make sure you greet them clearly with a confident smile – you’ll make just the right impression they’re looking for.

6. Some Questions to Ask

One of the best ways to demonstrate an interest in the role and the employer is to make sure you have some questions to ask during or at the end of your interview. Employers are always keen to share their organisation and knowledge about their team with you, so show an interest and ask some questions!

This can be things like:

  • What have been some of the team’s successes this year?
  • What does an average day look like for me in this role?
  • How many people will I be working with?
  • What does the management structure look like across the organisation?
  • What would be the key priorities for me in the first three months, if I‘m successful, when starting this job?

And Leave the Nerves at Home

This might seem like the hardest part, but it’s worth remembering three key things:

  1. The employer already thinks you can do the job; they wouldn’t bother meeting you if they didn’t.
  2. They think you’d be a great fit.
  3. They’re not looking for a reason not to hire you.

Essentially they want to make sure what you’ve written on paper matches with the real-life you.

Keeping these three things in mind is a great way to help calm those nerves. Rather than thinking you have to try and be someone you’re not or ‘prove’ you can do the job, you just have to show how professional, capable and willing you are to learn and contribute to the organisation.

And we definitely know you can do that!


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