The Best Bag to Carry on a Job Interview

In an interview, looking professional is critical. You want to look like you're able to tackle your responsibilities, while also fitting into the overarching office culture. But where to start? Here are interview bag inspiration ideas, with tips to style and select a bag for your job interview.

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Bring a 'Work' Bag

business woman walking with clipboard and smartphone in hand and carrying a leather purse on her arm

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For job interviews, carrying an office-appropriate bag is important; forget the hobo, clutch, or evening bags. The key is to choose an interview bag that keeps you organized and complements your interview outfit.

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Try a Reversible Leather Tote

young business woman walking down the street carrying a newspaper
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These bags are all the rage right now, and easy to find! Just search for "reversible leather totes," which are frequently made in "vegan" leather that will cost you under $40. Often available in brown/black, brown/blue, white/black, black/red, and many other combinations, these types of bags are an excellent (and affordable) way to match your interview bag to ​any outfit.

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Keep It Classic

Man putting a briefcase into the backseat of a car.
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You don't have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to choosing a bag for your job interview. Just keep it classic, and classy. "Classic" bag shapes that would work to consider include:

  • Doctor bags
  • Satchel bags
  • Tote bags
  • "Tailored" shopper bags (ideally in leather or another thick, sturdy material)
  • Refined laptop or messenger bags

Generally, you'll want to avoid hobo bags, baguette bags, barrel bags, flap bags, clutches and wristlets, and backpacks.

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Don't Bring a Gym Bag

Businessman leaving office with gym bag and yoga mat
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Make your interview the priority of your day. Avoid carrying anything that's not necessary: gym bags, suitcases, shopping bags, et cetera. You don't want to look like you're breezing through the interview on the fly.

If you're reading this and thinking, "Yeah right, my gym bag goes everywhere with me," ditch the frumpy duffel and consider a sleek, gym-to-work bag that's suitable to pair with a suit.

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Bring a Bag Large Enough to Hold Your Stuff

Woman holding large handbag in front of an office
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Instead of bringing multiple bags, opt for a bag large enough to hold your stuff: your laptop, portfolio, notepad, phone and charger, and all the other necessary or sundry items you might need to carry with you.

While you don't want to bring a huge bag (again, no gym bags, no duffel bags, no "weekenders"), carrying one large and organized bag is better than juggling multiple bags or stuffing a single bag full.

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Keep a Bag Just for Interviews

A picture of business people waiting for a media job interview
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Imagine this: an "interview-only" bag that's pre-packed and ready for each job interview? Consider purchasing (or designating) a bag just for interviews.

Keep it routinely stocked with copies of your resume and job application materials, notepads and pens, an extra phone charger, gum, and anything else you might need. That way, you'll have one less thing to worry about on the day of your interview.

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Try a Bag Organizer

Medium-sized bag laying on a table with several items removed from the bag.
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In your interview bag, you might want to consider a bag organizer to keep all of your items neat and tidy. No more digging for a pen or your ​business card: with a bag organizer, you'll have everything within easy reach.

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Try a Stylish Laptop Bag

Business man walking down city sidewalk carrying a satchel bag on the way to an interview.
 Africa Images / Getty Images

If you're having trouble finding a bag that works for you, search specifically for laptop bags. While some are bulky and designed for travel, a more tailored look is key for job interviews. Search for lightweight, leather (or a substitute, "vegan" version) or "stylish" laptop bag to find something that looks like a polished briefcase or tote, but also works as a laptop bag.

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Don't Carry a Flashy Bag

A bright pink handbag may not be a good choice to carry to a job interview.
 Li Mizina / Getty Images

Your interviewer's attention should be on you, not on your handbag. Save the flashy bag for happy hour and tone it down during your interview. While it's okay to incorporate color (more on that later) - for the most part, opt for professional, neutral tones (black, navy blue, brown, beige) and conservative finishes (matte as opposed to patent leather).

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Don't Be Afraid to Have Fun

Smiling woman at a job interview
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While it's generally better to err on the side of being conservative, in some situations (like if you're interviewing at a casual company, or within a specific industry, like fashion, for example) it can be acceptable to carry a "statement" bag. Use your best judgment to decide what would be best in your situation. 

If you have any sense of the company's dress code and company culture, they can be a good indicator: for example, in a relaxed or start-up casual environment, it's fine to accessorize with pops of color (as long as the rest of your outfit remains more toned down).

However, if you're interviewing in a traditional, business formal environment, you'll want to play it safe and avoid an outlandish bag.