You have been told not to show up to an interview empty handed – but what does that mean? You want to present the most polished version of yourself in your interview, whether for a job or an internship. These are the five things you should never go to an interview without:
1. A professional folder filled with extra copies of your résumé and a pad of paper
More than likely, the interviewer will have a copy of your résumé printed, but he or she may ask for one or you may want to refer to it while answering questions. If you are running late and think it would be okay to skip printing out a few extra copies, think again. Undoubtedly, when you don’t have extra copies, your interviewers will ask you for one. Also, you might want a pad of paper for taking notes about the position or to write down important dates pertaining to the interview process.
2. A bound portfolio
If you can afford to get a nicely bound version of your portfolio to leave with every set of interviewers, you are lucky. If you can’t, you should still invest in one copy to take with you and share. Your portfolio can include course work, but try to also incorporate things you’ve done in organizations like PRSSA or previous internships.
3. Your AP Stylebook
Always assume there will be a writing test. Being able to write a press release or edit for AP style is very important, and many agency and corporate jobs evaluate their interviewees for this skill. In the real world, no one will stop you from using an AP Stylebook, and many companies will let you use one during the test. They may provide one for you, but bringing your own shows you understand the public relations world and that you are prepared.
Interviews are nerve-racking, but if they have asked you to come in to interview, they must feel you are possibly a fit for the position. Don’t be cocky, but think about your skills. You may have stellar teamwork skills because you are more of a listener than a talker, or you may be extremely efficient and helpful to others because you do not engage in office gossip. Think beyond just your superb writing skills and understanding of theory – show how you can fit into the company culture.
5. A list of questions to ask your interviewers
This is crucial because it shows you are really serious about the position and have taken an interest in the company. Research beforehand, but do not force unnatural questions. My favorite question to ask is “What is the most challenging part of your job?”
One last tip: Ask for feedback! Find out what they liked about your résumé or what you could have done better. You will definitely stand out.
What is the one thing you always bring to an interview? Have you ever forgotten something you needed in an interview, and if so, how did you rectify the problem?
Kara McIver is the president of the Purdue Chapter of PRSSA. She is a senior majoring in communication and in her spare time tweets @kbmciver.