Job interviews are stressful because so many factors are out of your control — like what the hiring manager will ask or whether your personality matches what they're looking for.
But there is one thing you can control that can make all the difference: How prepared you are.
"Nothing eliminates stress and provides more confidence than proper preparation for an interview," Amanda Augustine, a career-advice expert for TopResume, tells Business Insider.
To be fully prepared for an interview, you need only bring some key things with you — any more and you run the risk of looking disorganized.
Here are the essentials experts advise showing up with:
Kathleen Elkins and Natalie Walters contributed to previous versions of this article.
Don't risk a technology malfunction by relying solely on your smartphone for directions.
To take this a step further, Augustine suggests doing a test run a week before your interview so you can become comfortable with the route and budget your travel time appropriately.
2. A few note cards
Doing your research up front about the company, possible interview questions, and worst-case scenarios can help with nerves before an interview, and it's not a bad idea to briefly review your notes just before your interview.
Some essentials to quickly review include your interviewers' names, titles, and relationships to the position; some key points you want to get across to your interviewers; and possible answers to some of the tougher questions you might get asked.
3. Grooming essentials
In the 15 or so minutes before your interview, it would be a good idea to duck into a nearby restroom to check yourself out in the mirror and fix anything that may have gone awry during your commute to the interview.
4. Copies of your résumé
Despite the transition from the traditional paper résumé to more dynamic social-media templates, such as LinkedIn, many hiring managers still expect candidates to arrive with a few hard copies.
Augustine says if you happen to know the exact number of people you'll be meeting with, bring at least one copy for each of them, plus a few extra to be safe.
"You'll need one for you to reference while you talk, and one copy for each interviewer, just in case they aren't prepared," she says.
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5. Portfolio of sample work
Depending on the job you're applying for, it is a good idea to bring samples of your work.
"The medium needs to match up. You should not bring a binder of print material to a digital publication," explainsBusiness Insider's director of talent, Stephanie Fogle. "And be prepared to talk about it."
6. Pen and paper
A number of career experts and hiring managers we reached out to emphasized the importance of bringing a pen and paper.
Jotting down a few notes during the interview can come in handy as you write your post-interview thank-you note later that day. (But remember to listen closely to the hiring manager, and don't get distracted by your note-taking!)
Also, if you're interviewing for a consulting, finance, or engineering position, you will likely have to answer impossible brainteaser questions. It can be helpful to have a pen and paper as you attempt to work through these questions.
You'll also want to jot down some notes post-interview about how you think you did and what you could have done better so you have something to go back and review as you continue on your job search.
You're not the only one in the hot seat on the big day. In nearly every interview you will have the chance to ask your own questions.
Use this part of the interview to your advantage. Ask smart questions to impress the hiring manager and to figure out if this place is a perfect fit for you. The career experts recommend having a few written down ahead of time rather than having to come up with them on the spot.
While questions may vary depending on the company you're interviewing with, here are some impressive ones that will work in any situation:
1. How do you see this position evolving in the next three years?
2. What can I help to clarify that would make hiring me an easy decision?
3. How will the work I'll be doing contribute to the organization's mission?
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8. A positive attitude
"Most importantly, come with your A game," Augustine says. "Confidence, a positive attitude, and a genuine interest in the role and the company will set you apart from the competition. When you and another candidate have comparable skill sets, the only thing that will set you apart is your passion."
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