The Interview Preparedness Kit

[ Mara Masters, 1L at Emory Law ]

Interviews make me nervous. They have ever since I was a teenager interviewing at a store and the manager asked me to sell her the pen I was holding. As evidenced by the fact that I am not a wildly successful pen mogul, I did not do a particularly impressive job. I have learned many interview skills since then, but still find that the best way to ease my nerves is to feel tangibly prepared with an Interview Survival Preparedness Kit. Here is what’s in mine.

A Padfolio

Stick a few extra resumes in your padfolio along with some notes about the organization and your interviewer and a few questions to ask. Not sure what questions to ask? You can always start with, “What are the next steps?” or “If you are interested, when should I expect to hear back?” Your research of the organization will likely prompt more questions, as will your day-of conversations. Don’t forget to bring a black pen in case you need to jot down any notes or answers.

Our school gave us branded padfolios, but they are not very pretty. If I was not on a law student budget, I would get this one:

Leather Tri-Folio

But this much more affordable one is pretty as well:

Samsill

A good bag

If you are planning on bringing a bag with you at all (you certainly don’t have to), make sure it aligns with your professional look, whatever that may be. Seasonal clearance sales are an incredible time to buy a professional bag on a budget. Banana Republic, J.Crew, Nordstrom, and many other stores have an extra 50-60% off sale items during seasonal sales. I recently got this bag in gray for 75% off. If you are carrying a less structured bag like a tote, I highly recommend a bag organizer such as this one, as well.

A spare shirt and a Stain Remover Stick

The number of times I spill coffee on myself in a week is embarrassing. Just today I dropped half of a Boston Cream Donut in my hair, so this kind of contingency planning is a must for me. There is nothing worse than squirming in your seat as you try to use your blazer to cover the unexpected stain on your shirt.

Thank you note and stamped envelope

The advice is mixed about whether to email a thank you note or send one via snail mail, but regardless of which you do, make sure you follow up somehow. I love snail mail, so I tend to go the way of a handwritten thank you. If you do this, make sure you choose notes that are professional and not gendered. Bonus points in my opinion if you find notes that are in your school colors.

Thank You Notes

Don’t forget to ask your interviewers for business cards and write out your note as soon as you get in the car. Pop it in the mailbox on your way home, and then you don’t have to worry about forgetting.

A Snack

Something to give you a little boost and keep your stomach from making audible growling noises but will also not create a risk that you will have to use that spare shirt. Maybe also bring some breath mints, just in case.

A Good Pep Talk

There is no better time for imposter syndrome to rear its ugly head than when you are walking into a job interview. But remember: you are intelligent and capable and most definitely cut out for this work. Even if you don’t get your dream job 1L summer, that does not mean you will not get your dream job in the future. Your path may be more of a zigzag than you expected, but you’ll get where you are going, wherever that may be.