What should I bring to a job interview? A resume? Writing sample? References? Anything else? Should I offer these items, or wait until I am asked?
In our paperless age, it is hard to know what a person should bring into a job interview.
Resume. I do recommend bringing resumes, although you will probably never need them. Do use good paper stock if you are going to bring resumes; although it is my personal belief that no one actually cares about good quality paper stock, they will notice if it is poor quality. There is always a remote possibility that you show up on a day when the firm’s email server is down, or for some similar reason, your interviewers do not have a copy of your resume. If this ever happens, they will certainly notice if you don’t have a copy to offer them.
Writing Samples and Other Representative Documents. I have found that only certain types of attorneys are usually asked for writing samples - litigation attorneys and patent prosecutors (who should bring a patent application). Corporate attorneys may be asked to put together a deal sheet, and partners may be asked to present a business plan. However, generally speaking, if a firm wants any of these documents from you, they will ask for it ahead of time, or after the interview, but usually not during. Still, if you want to be prepared for the possibility that you charm the partners to the point where they need these documents right away, feel free to bring them.
References. I do not believe that it is generally necessary to bring a reference list or reference letters to an interview. Again, firms will ask for these at the appropriate stage if they want them, and that is usually after the interview, when they have decided to move forward with your candidacy. In my experience, especially if you are not moving to another city, your interviewers generally know the people you work with; they will call the people they know in order to get the scoop on you, whether or not you have listed those people as references. For this reason, some firms don’t ever ask for references at all.
Other Items. Bring a copy of your interview schedule. Your interviewer may or may not know with whom you are interviewing next; this happens a fair amount, and they will ask you who you are meeting with next. You should know that name.
I also recommend printing out and bringing bios and other information on the attorneys with whom you are interviewing. You may forget which attorney is the head of the department, who is a partner and who is an associate, who is an alumnus of your law school, and these are not mistakes you want to make during the interview. You may get down time in between meetings, and your mobile device cannot always be counted on to function. Even if it does, you don’t want to be caught staring at your mobile screen, since you may leave the impression that you are playing Words With Friends or checking email. Therefore, I recommend bringing the attorneys’ bios in paper form and glancing at them if you get the chance. This will refresh your memory in between meetings, or when you are waiting in the lobby for your first meeting.
Timing. My recommendation with all of the above documents is to wait until you are asked for them, and not to offer. You run the risk of appearing overeager, and it does not make sense to offer a resume to someone who has it in her hand simply because it is printed on nicer paper. Be prepared for the very remote chance that someone will ask for your documents, but also be prepared to bring them right back home again. You can always use them for the next interview.