As a resume writer and career adviser, I counsel my clients to relax when they go into a job interview. Being relaxed and comfortable will certainly make a job interview go more smoothly—for both the job candidate and the interviewer. But there’s a difference between being relaxed and “letting it all hang out.” To do that, there are a few personal belongings you might be better off not letting your interviewer see.
Your beach book. For those of you who use e-readers, this may not be an issue. But for job candidates bringing personal magazines or the latest bestseller to read on the way to the interview, this can be important. You might think reading “bodice-rippers” is fun, but it’s not a hobby to share with your interviewer. Keep your hobbies and personal life to yourself. If the interviewer is going to see you reading anything in the office waiting room, why not make it the latest industry magazines?
Your phone, tablet, and other electronics. Be respectful of your interviewers’ time. Sure, you might need your smart phone to help you navigate your way to the employer’s office. But before you cross the threshold into their building, turn it off and put it away. Interviewers do not want to be interrupted by your friends calling and texting. And they have no forgiveness for job candidates who are rude enough answer their phones or text during the interview. Keep to the same rule airlines have: all electronics need to be off and stowed.
Your wristwatch, jewelry, and other accessories. Be cognizant of the employer’s culture and mission. If you’re lucky enough to possess a Rolex watch, large engagement ring, or $2,000 briefcase, then think before you take them with you on an interview. They might work well for your professional image if you’re interviewing at an investment bank, but they will likely backfire if you’re interviewing at a local non-profit serving impoverished families facing eviction. In the first instance, those high-end accessories scream, “I can mingle with your high net worth clients!” In the second instance, those high-end accessories scream, “I’m an insensitive clod who doesn’t understand or respect what you’re all about!” Just like your collectible Swatch watch might be a great fit for some employers, but a no-no for others. Make sure your accessories help demonstrate how you fit in, not stand out.
Those who’ve read my other blogs and How to Get a Legal Job: A Guide for New Attorneys and Law School Students know that I don’t just rely on my own opinions for these tips. I spend a great deal of time talking to hiring decision-makers, including hiring directors, interviewers, personnel managers, and recruiters—in other words, the people who will be interviewing you. So don’t just take my advice, take theirs!