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What to Bring to the Interview

What Not To Bring

Interviewees who carry large loads of stuff to the interviews may appear less professional and less organized than those who manage to leave the heavy weight behind. If you do not exercise your best judgment, what you bring to the interview can cost you an offer.

Heather came to a clerkship interview with a prestigious “feeder” judge carrying a large bottle of water. With a look on her face that said “I've got to get through this,” she set the bottle on the judge's antique oak desk. Several times during the interview, she took a sip from her bottle and placed it loudly back on the desk. The judge did not give her an offer because he decided he could not work with a clerk with such a lack of respect or common sense.

You—not your stuff—should be the center of attention at an interview. Leave your drink, coat, and bag elsewhere. There will almost always be a designated storage area you can use. Consider closets, hotel suites, empty classrooms, or receptionists’ desks. Use them to store everything except your packet; this way, you will not waste valuable time trying to find a place for your things in the interviewing room. Women who want to carry their handbags to interviews should consider interviewing without them, unless they can find something that looks unobtrusive and professional (thin, dark, medium-sized, and no bright buckles or chains). See What to Wear for further discussion on this subject. Of course, cellphones and BlackBerries have no place in the interviewing room.

Gayle, a senior partner, told us about a candidate who came highly recommended by her colleagues. Gayle was looking forward to the interview because the candidate had strong credentials, and she already contemplated giving him an offer. The candidate, however, showed up to the interview with an iced mocha. He kept slurping the mocha during the interview, with a noise so distracting and unbearable that, at one point, Gayle had to ask him to stop. The mocha made it impossible for this interviewee to receive an offer.

If you must bring anything at all to the interviewing room, it should look professional and not take up too much space. And do not forget to hide any marketing materials you may have just received from other firms. Think of it as bringing a picture of your ex to your first date—just a little awkward! Finally, no matter how tempting it may be, do not place your things on the interviewer's desk or table; according to various studies on nonverbal communication and human behavior, this can translate as an invasion of space.

To sum up, what you bring to the interview paints a picture of how organized you are as a person and as a lawyer. Approaching your interviews in an organized manner can help you make the interviewing process more manageable. What's more, after you prepare a packet of information for one employer, it is fairly easy to duplicate that effort for other interviews. This way, you can maximize your chances with all potential employers while the time and cost of preparation increase only marginally. Remember, an interview is an excellent opportunity to show potential employers that you are on top of things.


  • • Bring a packet of information about yourself, with your resume, transcripts, writing samples, and list of references, to each of your interviews.
  • • After you think you are done proofreading your resume, proofread it again.
  • • Make sure your resume is on one page, and that your writing sample does not exceed 10 pages.
  • • Contact your references in advance to make sure they are willing to serve as such.
  • • Avoid bringing unnecessary items to the interview.
  • • Anything you bring to the interviewing room should be kept to a minimum and look professional.

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Additional topics

Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesLaw Job InterviewsWhat to Bring to the Interview - The Packet, Resume, Writing Samples, Transcripts, References, What Not To Bring