I am beyond scared and nervous about my very first ever job interview that I will be attending for a Financial Analyst position, which is my dream position. It would really help me if I bring my friend with me to alleviate my stress. Is this acceptable etiquette at an interview?
Signed: A little help from my friend (ALHF)
The only items that are acceptable to bring with you to the job interview are copies of your resume (one for each interviewer), a portfolio (if it’s relevant), a pen, pad of paper, and a list of your references (to be provided only when asked), as well as any other documents as requested by the interviewers.
Elizabeth Bromstein wrote a fantastic blog on What not to bring in the interview. She suggests that any of these eight items can ruin your chances of getting the job offer by either annoying the potential employer, or undermining their ability to take you seriously:
1. Your parents or friends.
Employers expect to be dealing with an independent, self sufficient person. Don’t give them any cause to think otherwise. You are not a child. Don’t act like one.
2. Your pets.
Again, if you want to be taken seriously, behave professionally.
3. Your phone.
Make sure to turn it off and put it away, out of sight. It is disrespectful and rude to have it ringing in the interview. It is important to show complete full attention to the interviewer(s). Carry as little with you as possible to make the best impression.
Coffee and water can become a distraction and an inconvenience. If they offer you a drink, it may be simpler to not accept it. Remember, the interview is about what you can do for the employer, and not what the employer can do for you. Don’t show up carrying a cup of coffee, not only in case you spill it but again, it could be interpreted as rude.
5. A competitor’s product.
Do your homework. Research the products sold by the company and don’t make the mistake of showing up with a product from the competition “… for an interview at Starbucks while carrying a Tim Horton’s cup, unless your plan is to discuss the competition”.
6. Inappropriate personal materials (Fifty Shades of Grey, for example).
Think about how the material you are bringing with you reflects on your professional image. Bromstein recommends that you “Don’t bring any reading material that makes you look anything less than serious, intelligent, and professional.”
7. Your shopping.
This presents the absolute wrong message. It makes it look like the interview is just something you’re fitting in between other things, not the most important focus of your day. If you want to look like you really care about the job, do your shopping later.
Eat your meal before the interview, whether it’s in person, virtual or on the phone. In all formats, it’s a serious interview. You must be professional and prepared.
If in doubt, don’t bring it. Keep your interview professional, if you want to be taken seriously.
Joanna Samuels B.Ed. (Adult Education), M.Ed., CMF, CTDP, RRP is a certified Life Skills Coach and Personality Dimensions Facilitator who works at JVS Toronto as a Job Developer/Job Coach/Workshop Facilitator. Also, Joanna is a part-time instructor of employment counselling with people with disabilities at George Brown College.
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