What to Bring (and What Not to Bring) to an Interview

Dana Guterman
Updated: July 24, 2020

You only have one chance to make a first impression, and a successful interview starts with proper interview preparation. That means making sure your bag is packed and you have everything you need. Here’s your go-to list for what to bring to your interview (as well as what to leave at home).

Be sure to bring …


  • Copies of your resume.

    Sure, the interviewer might already have your resume printed out, but it never hurts to be prepared—plus you might want to reference it yourself. And in the case of a panel interview, you’ll definitely want extra copies. We recommend printing five to be safe.

  • Work samples.

    Depending on your industry, you’ll want to bring work samples to the interview. If you’re interviewing to be a graphic design, photography, software engineering, or copywriting intern, a portfolio is crucial. You can bring three or four samples to the interview, and offer to send a link to your full portfolio later.

  • Questions to ask.

    One of the interview questions you’re almost guaranteed to be asked is, “Do you have any questions for me?” Your answer needs to be yes. Come prepared with 10–20 post-interview questions to show your curiosity and engagement.

  • Necessary identification.

    Many buildings require photo ID to enter, so it’s a good idea to have a driver’s license or birth certificate on you.

  • A hairbrush, mints, and floss.

    To ensure you look polished and have nothing between your teeth, bring a few core self-care items. And remember to finish that mint before you walk into the interview room!

  • Basic company and interview information.

    Just in case you get lost or are running late, keep the company’s contact information close at hand. Once you arrive, a receptionist or security guard may ask you to state the purpose of your visit and your interviewer’s name.

  • A notebook and pen.

    While you don’t want to spend the whole interview buried in your notebook, it’s a good idea to have a pen and paper at the ready, just in case. You’ll want to jot down everyone’s name and contact information for post-interview thank you notes, plus the interviewer might ask you to follow up with additional information. Bringing these items shows that you’re organized and prepared, which can make all the difference in an interview.

But you should avoid bringing …


  • Gum.

    Popping gum during the interview is a sure way to not get hired. You’re better off leaving it at home.

  • Food.

    A bottle of water is fine; food is messy and should be avoided. Eat a light snack ahead of time to avoid a rumbling stomach or anxiety-induced nausea.

  • Your phone (turned on).

    Nothing looks worse than having your phone go off mid-interview. Leave it at home or turn it off before you enter the building.


Get everything packed up the night before, lay out your interview outfit, and soon you’ll be wondering what to bring for your first day of work.