It’s coming to the end of your interview, and so far you’re confident in your answers and the reaction you’ve received from the interviewer — things are going well!
Then, they ask, “do you have a list of references for us?”. You haven’t, and the scramble begins to think of an answer to why. Suddenly, the tone of the interview is left on an indecisive note.
It’s a scenario we’ve probably all imagined and try to avoid where possible.
How can you prepare for those document-related questions? Make sure you have everything you need and it’s prepared professionally to give to your interviewers at the end of your meeting.
DOCUMENTS TO BRING TO AN INTERVIEW
There are a few things you should have on hand for an in-person interview, to cover the variety of document needs an interviewer may ask for:
- Copies of your resume
- A notebook and pen, to write down notes throughout the interview
- Your pre-written questions to ask the interviewer
- A list of references, if it isn’t on your resume already
- A portfolio of work (no matter the field!)
- A nice addition: Letters of reference
- A nice addition: a thank you note or letter
WHY YOU NEED A PORTFOLIO
No matter the field you work in, a portfolio is a way to concretely present the level of work you can do. Whether that’s your amazing photography skills, your ability to create a lesson plan, or your plethora of certificates relevant to your field, portfolio items are a great way to leave interviewers with some concrete examples of why you are the ideal candidate for a role.
Here are some ideas of things you’ve created or achieved that could be included:
- Samples of photography
- Samples of design work
- Writing samples: articles, blog posts, social media posts
- Project plans
- Communications strategies
- Staff training documents
And there are plenty of other options, too. Think about things you’ve done that have a physical copy you can reference for a potential employer — there are probably a few things that come to mind that reflect you and would provide an interviewer context to your skills and accomplishments.
*When putting your portfolio together, consider what would be relevant to an employer. You may be a great photographer in your personal time, but it might not be something that would benefit the company if you are applying for something that isn’t a visual field. Similarly, a menu you’ve created in your catering experience is less applicable for an administrative role. Tailor your content to the company’s needs and the role you are applying to.
PRESENTING YOUR DOCUMENTS
In putting together your interview documents, you probably now have a plethora of papers on hand. It’s important they are presented professionally for when you give them to your interviewers.
- Make sure you make copies of everything. This is more for you than for the interviewer, but ensure you aren’t giving away your only copy of a document!
- Print all of your portfolio items on good quality paper, and ensure that they aren’t creased, stained or ripped.
- Put all of your documents in a duotang or binder with neat binding; again, ensure they aren’t creased, folded, ripped or stained.
- Remember: you will have to give this whole duotang or binder to the interviewer before you leave, so this isn’t the instance to use your favourite personal binder! Purchase some standard, simple ones that you aren’t afraid to give away.
In this package, just include the items you want the interviewer to have: your portfolio items, your references, your letters of reference, and potentially a copy of your resume at the front of the package.
WHY LETTERS OF REFERENCES ARE A NICE ADDITION
If you didn’t include letters of references in your initial application, having a few on hand (even in your portfolio!) provides the employer with written accounts of your competency and strengths.
Depending on what your references write, it can also showcase your personality and attributes that would make you a great fit in a company’s culture.
WHY A THANK YOU NOTE IS A NICE ADDITION FOR AFTER THE INTERVIEW
It’s best practice to send a note to your interviewers after the interview, thanking them for their time and adding in a few notes about your interview to show that you were listening and are interested in the position. And though this can be done over email, you could take this one step further and send them a note by mail as well.
Bring a pen and paper with you (nice paper!) to the interview, and take a few moments once you’ve left the interview to write out a hand-written thank you note. You could do this in the offices lobby, or at the coffee shop down the road — wherever you are comfortable that isn’t still in view of the interviewers.
Writing your thank you note this quickly after an interview ensures all the information is fresh, and you can write something more personalized.
Then, put the note in the post, addressed to your interviewer (you could prepare the envelope and address in advance).
For those who think the interviewer will appreciate something more personalized, this is an option! And, it ensures that your email doesn’t get lost in their inbox amongst not only other candidates, but the everyday emails too. This letter will likely end up on their desk or given to them directly, which is harder to ignore than an email.
That said, an email is also entirely appropriate.
~ written by Lucy Fox
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