When you set up an interview, be sure to ask if there is anything that you need to bring with you. By default, you should always take a clean copy of your resume and a list of at least three professional references. Depending on the job, you may need to bring other documentation but always ask the employer what they need before offering it. I’ve had candidates bring extra things to their interview that they thought would improve their chances of getting the job, but in fact they had the opposite effect. Here are a few examples:
- College transcript from 1969 that reflected 1.8/4.0 GPA. Not only was the transcript from 1969 irrelevant in 2012 but it was also not strong enough academically to be shown to anyone, especially a potential employer.
- Performance review from a previous position that was mediocre. I had a candidate bring a prior review that stated that the candidate’s technical skills were good but their interpersonal skills were very poor. Their manager went on to explain that the candidate was only interested in helping others if they got something in return. Most positions require interactions with others and a lot of positions require employees to work together on a team. The fact that the candidate showed me this review, suggested to me that they didn’t think these negative comments were significant issues. If they had realized how important these skills are, they wouldn’t have let a potential employer see this review.
- Every reference letter that the candidate had ever been given dating back 25 years. Potential employers are interested in your most recent work experience and are therefore most interested in references from recent employers. References are very important and letters of recommendation can be very helpful in displaying your abilities to your interviewer. However, keep the recommendations limited to your last two or three positions depending on the relevance of the work you were doing to the work you are applying for.
- Copy of a detailed business plan from a competing employer including client names and specific sales goals. It is sufficient to describe the work that you have done without showing specific examples of confidential information regarding a previous employer. Employers are very careful about protecting their privacy and they expect you to do the same even after your employment ends.
Remember, recruiters and hiring managers have a lot of paper on their desks as it is. Keep your documentation relevant to the job you are applying for by only bringing things that represent your most recent work experience. Good luck!
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