• Nicolle Weeks

Your job interview survival kit

This article originally appeared on homemakers.com

What's tucked away in that smart tote you're carrying can help you land your vocational dream.


The job interview can be one of the most stressful situations you'll come across in modern day life. Not only can one 30-minute meeting determine whether you'll get to do what you love for years to come; it can also cause sweaty palms, heart palpitations, and the occasional inclination to blow half your savings on a few new suits or dresses.


The one thing you can do: prepare. After learning about the company's annual earnings, you're going to need to look like you deserve the job. Read on to figure out what you need to carry with you on the big day.


Three copies of your resume

Don't assume that the person interviewing you is the person that first looked at your resume. Even if it is the same person, he or she may not remember what's on your resume, so bring three copies with you. Why two extras? There may be more than one person interviewing you.


Makeup bag

Smudging your eyeliner across your face isn't the worst thing that could happen, but it could distract your interviewer. Remember to stock your bag with these items to keep you looking your best: lipstick, cover up, an eye shadow, some cotton balls, tissues, makeup remover, and a small package of baby powder in case of sweaty hands. "I can't stress enough that grooming is important," says Gerlinde Herrman, president of the Human Resources Professionals Association of Ontario, "Also, women re-entering the workforce should update hair and wardrobe -- they'll be competing with younger, well-groomed people. Get your nails done, have your hair groomed."


Black marker and pantyhose

You should be wearing comfortable and shiny shoes, but if for some reason, your shoes get scuffed, a simple Sharpie will help you put your best foot forward. You should also pay attention to your legs. If you've chosen to wear hosiery, don't panic if you have a run. Change into your fresh pantyhose, and voila! Your legs are good as new.


Breath mints/strips

Don't feel uncomfortable during your interview because you think you might have bad breath. Gum chewing might be crass, but sneaking a breath mint or breath strip before you go in to the interview is inconspicuous and helps ease your suspicions of halitosis.


Examples of your work

Just because you're not an artist doesn't mean that you can't have a portfolio. When you're talking about the amazing PowerPoint you prepared a year or two ago, it would be a lot easier and more impressive to whip out a copy than to just talk about it. This shows that you're equipped to do a great job and that you put a little extra effort in. Just make sure that you've asked your previous employer for permission to show it, says Herrman, or the interviewer might think that you are inclined to show confidential work to anyone who wants to see it. Remember to bring work that makes sense in today's market, rather than five or 10 years ago.


Your music

On the way to the interview, rather than thinking about how important this interview is, listen to music that relaxes you. Concentrate on being calm and think about how great you are for the job, rather than all the things that could go wrong. Many people use music to set a mood and motivate, including athletes, public speakers, and talk show hosts.


Questions, questions, questions

Chances are, your interviewer won't want to be met with a blank stare when he or she asks if you have any questions. "Having questions ready shows that you've done some research," says Herrman. This demonstrates that you're interested in the company and want to learn more about the position.


A smile and some confidence

OK, your smile and self-esteem won't fit in your portfolio, but a positive attitude and a relaxed -- but professional -- demeanour go a long way. If you're having trouble, watch what the interviewer is doing. Is she leaning back? Then lean back, too. If he's crossing his legs, cross your legs too. Just remember to avoid defensive mannerisms like folding your arms. Rev yourself up and remember, keep all your options open -- you never know what's around the corner. Lastly, don't forget to send a thank-you note!

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