As a recruiter, I am constantly making judgments about people. It is within your power as a candidate for a job to control how you are being perceived. This includes on a macro scale, your online personal brand (social media), your resume, references, your grammar in an email, etc. It also includes how you dress, your demeanor, your etiquette, and last but certainly not least, your accessories.
Ladies, take a look at your purse right now.
Are you are one of those women who has 50 bags; one for each outfit, or are you more like me, who uses one bag everyday until it is hanging by a thread and I finally give in and replace it. Either way, your bag says something about you.
By even bringing a purse to an interview, you are adding to an already stressful situation for yourself. Where do you set your purse when you sit down? Could you forget it in the lobby when you stand to greet your recruiter? Are you going to have to spend 5 minutes awkwardly digging your pen out of the bottomless abyss so that you can take notes after you asked a serious question about the company? Regardless of whether you feel you need your security blanket in an interview or not, I say leave it in the car. It gives me too close of a glimpse inside your personal life that I don’t want at this juncture in our relationship.
First let’s discus the bag itself and then we can go into where to shove it.
Is your bag dingy? Old? Does it rattle and clang when you walk because you have so much shit in it? Is your oversized key chain with Minnie Mouse and your Petsmart card dangling out of it? Yeah, it’s gross and I don’t want to know. It’s distracting to say the least. Now some may be saying, “My new Coach bag is beautiful.” I agree that it very well could be, but keep in mind that taste, much like beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Bottom line, you don’t want to create any circumstance that creates judgment that you cannot control. Maybe your interviewer will think you’re spoiled or high maintenance if you come in with a Louis Vuitton bag (and yes, those people exist although I am not one of them).
OK, so you disagree. Your bag is gorgeous, and you earned the money that it cost you to buy and it goes perfectly with your interview suit. You bring it in. For the love of everything holy in this world, please do not plop your purse on my desk, the conference room table or any surface that is eye level for an interview. It is one of the most distracting things you can do. It’s like saying, “Here is my resume and my bag. Please review.”
If you do not heed my advice, and do decide to stick to your guns and bring your purse in, then please set it on the chair next to you if you are certain nobody will need to take that seat, or on the floor under your chair. Yes, my Italian grandmother told me never to put my bag on the floor for fear of losing money – but how about fear of losing a job opportunity because your interviewer notices a pack of cigs popping out of the top of your purse and they hate smokers?
Now, I don’t want you to be empty handed either – that looks silly in an interview. My suggestion is to go to a nearby office supply store and pick up a padfolio (sorry if this isn’t the technical term, it’s what I have always called them)– one of those black leather folders that has a legal pad inside and place for a pen. Keep your car keys in the zipper pocket and open it with pen out as soon as you take your seat in the interview. It shows me that you are professional, you came prepared, and not only do you have questions for me but you intend to take notes on my answers – most likely because you are seriously evaluating my opportunity much like I am evaluating you for it.