Businessman Sleeping on Folding ChairsScenario #1: The person you were originally scheduled to meet with is stuck in traffic, and now you’re meeting with one of the managers on her team—and he doesn’t have a copy of your resume.

Scenario #2: The hiring manager unexpectedly asks 3 members of his team to sit in.

Scenario #3: Your first interview goes so well, the hiring manager wants you to meet the CEO—quite unexpectedly for both of you.

These things happen in the real world, but it’s important not to let unanticipated changes derail your day.  You should always expect—and be prepared for—the unexpected any time you show up for a job interview.  Bring the following things with you, and you’ll be prepared for anything—and more importantly, you’ll be able to focus on interviewing your best:

  • 5 copies of your resume (plus one additional copy for yourself to reference during the interview) The 3 scenarios listed above are entirely realistic—in fact, in many instances potential employers may add some unexpected twists to the interview process just to see how well prepared and adaptable you are.  Having multiple copies of your resume with you, ready to hand out if necessary, will help you look organized and prepared.  Don’t forget to keep a 6th copy for yourself—you may need it to complete an employment application, and for reference during the course of your interviews.
  • A list of your professional accomplishments – Put together a document separate from your resume that highlights your most significant professional accomplishments.  It doesn’t need to be limited to 1 or 2 pages (but be practical—flipping through a 10 page document during an interview is probably not going to work), and you could even use note cards if you prefer.  Also If you arrive at your interview early, you can review this list prior to the start—it will jog your memory for things you’d like to mention, and give you confidence before the first interview.
  • A list of intelligent questions – Prepare a well-researched list of questions the night before your interview.  Try to avoid asking basic questions that can be easily answered by looking at the company webpage.  Also, particularly if this is a first interview, it may not be the time to ask about things like benefits, vacation time, etc.  If you progress through the interview process, you’ll have an opportunity to ask those questions at a more appropriate time.  Instead, ask thoughtful, intelligent questions that are relevant to the industry and the business.  This will show that show you’ve done your homework and have an understanding of the company and how you’ll meet their needs.
  • Thank-you notes – The debate rages on as to whether a handwritten thank-you note is still practical in the digital age, and it’s a fair question.  If you have the opportunity, ask the recruiter what the timetable is for making a decision.  If the timetable is a week or more, consider a customized, handwritten thank you note (and make sure to get business cards or the names & titles of everyone you meet—anyone you’ve contacted should receive one).   You might consider bringing stamps with you and writing the thank-you notes immediately after your interview—while some of the topics you’ve discussed are fresh in your mind and might be referenced in the note.  If the timetable for a decision is less than a week, it is fine to send a thank-you note by e-mail.
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