How To Choose A Great Bag For Your Job Interview

By Chris Kolmar - Oct. 30, 2020

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Mastering an interview outfit that’s both professional and fashionable can be a challenge for many job candidates. One of the ways to positively tweak your interview attire is by carrying an accessory, like a great bag.

Carrying a professional handbag, purse, or briefcase to an interview will highlight your outfit and make your appearance more professional.

Additionally, it can help carry resources needed for a successful interview, such as your resume or examples of your past work.

Should You Wear Accessories to a Job Interview?

When it comes to accessories you should always use small and simple pieces. You don’t want to add distraction or confuse an interviewer with a bulky or ultra colorful accessory. Whenever you pick an accessory to add to your interview outfit, think about if it’s professional and not overpowering.

Including accessories in an interview-outfit is all about picking the right ones to wear. You want to adhere to business etiquette, while still letting your personal style show.

The goal of interview attire is to present yourself as an organized professional with a work-appropriate sense of style. If you choose to pair accessories with your look, make sure they’ll also work towards this goal.

Examples of Acceptable Accessories to Wear on a Job Interview Include:

  • Stud earrings

  • A simple necklace

  • A gold watch

  • A tasteful tie

  • A professional handbag or briefcase

A professional bag is a functional accessory that also accents your interview look. Showing up to an interview carrying items haphazardly can appear disorganized. Whether you’re applying for a supervisory position or an entry-level role, carrying a great bag to your interview can be useful and make a good impression that you’ve come prepared.

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What Bag is Appropriate for Job Interviews?

Choose a handbag that’s a neutral, even tone with minimal patterns or extra designs. Remember, the bag you incorporate into your interview outfit should be based on strategy. Even if the interviewer is distracted by how much they love your interesting bag, you don’t want their focus there. That will just send them home on a hunt for that purse instead of eager to hire you.

The handbag you wear to a job interview can vary in style. You should pick a piece that’s color and design that will highlight your outfit, not take away from it. Additionally, the bag you bring to a job interview should comfortably and neatly house your resume, phone, and anything else you may need.

Unless you’re interviewing for a position in a fashion or entertainment-based industry, it’s best to keep your choice of handbag simple and unassuming.

While a classic briefcase may be an excellent option for some applicants and positions, there are many more options out there. Consider a leather satchel or tote bag. Sometimes even a nice laptop bag can be sufficient for carrying everything you need while still giving a professional appearance.

Think about the job you’re applying for and research industry standards for how casual interviews usually are. Determine your choice of a bag based on these specifications.

What Models of Bags Shouldn’t be Worn for a Job Interview?

There are some models of bags that you should never wear to a job interview. These kinds appear unpolished or lazy and can leave a hiring manager looking for other candidates to hire.

Examples of Bags that Shouldn’t be Worn for an Interview Include:

  • Athletic duffle bags

  • Backpacks

  • Suitcase

  • Plastic Bags

  • Reusable Grocery Bags

  • Evening Clutch Purse

Examples of the Best Bags for Job Interviews

Finding the right bag to bring to an interview is a process. Consider the list below whether you’re looking through your closet for similar options, or are searching for a new bag to buy for an interview. There’s a bag out there that’s accessible, useful, and stylish for every potential employee.

Best Inexpensive Bags for Interviews

  1. Target Reversible “A New Day” Handbag ($24.04)

    This handbag from Target is a super low-cost option that’s reversible from brown to black. That means, it’ll probably be compatible with most of your interview clothing options. If you’re low on time or money for an interview bag, head to your local target, and see if it’s in stock.

  2. Nordstrom Rack Nanette Lepore Satchel ($34.97 At Nordstrom Rack)

    This is an excellent simple black satchel bag, available for a 67% discount at Nordstrom Rack. It’s the classic young professional interviewee bag. It’s functional, but still fashionable, and works with a variety of clothing colors.

  3. Uniqlo U Padded Shoulder Bag ($39.90)

    The Uniqlo Padded Shoulder Bag may not be the prettiest bag you’ve ever seen, but it gets the job done on a budget. It’s easily large enough to store your laptop, former work samples, and resume with room to spare. It also follows the main rule of interview accessories: it doesn’t draw too much attention and displays an organized demeanor

Best Large Bags for Interviews

  1. Banana Republic Leather Large East-West Tote ($67.00)

    Banana Republic’s stylish brown tote is a little bit larger than some of the other options on this list. It can accommodate storage requirements for the neediest of interviewees, while still being elegant and attractive.

  2. Kohl’s AmeriLeather Casual Tote ($89)

    This bag is available in many different colors, making it ideal for outfits ranging in color. Its dimensions are fairly large and features snap closure to keep all your valuables safe.

  3. Express Shiraleah Arden Tote ($40.80)

    This unique take on the classic black tote bag from express is enormous. Despite its creative style, it’s still simple and classy enough to pass as an impressive interview bag.

Most Stylish Bags for Interviews

  1. Kate Spade Lakeland Drive Marina ($89.00)

    This Kate Spade bag has just enough personality and professionalism to be a great option in an interview. It’s reversible with a vibrant yellow and soft pink. With very soft hues, this bag can be a nice colorful accent, while still maintaining a work attire.

  2. Michael Kors Downtown Astor Shoulder Bag ($298.50)

    Shoulder bags are a good option for a lot of interviewees because they’re usually pretty spacious. This Michael Kors bag delivers on this promise, and more with it’s beautiful, wine color.

  3. Topshop TINA Black Bar Tote Bag ($45.00)

    There are quite a few pros about this bag. First, it’ll likely match with any outfit you can possibly throw at it. Secondly, it’s big enough to carry all the essentials, plus a bottle of water. Finally, it’s available for the affordable price of $45.

Higher Price and Quality Bags for Interviews

  1. Everlane The Day Market Tote ($180)

    The products from Everlane definitely lean towards the more expensive side, however, the price you pay is an investment in quality. The bag is large and made from premium Italian leather. The age-old saying of “you get what you pay for” applies here.

  2. Dagne Dover Signature Tote ($245)

    This tote comes in many pastel, soft colors that can be translated into an effective interview outfit. While this bag may seem small, looks can be deceiving. In reality, it can hold most laptops of 13”. This option runs on the pricier side, but, it can be worth it for a lot of candidates to arrive in style.

  3. Hard Graft Flat Pack Classic (Starting at $355)

    If you’re a professional who heavily relies on your laptop for completing and presenting work, you may be interested in getting a high-quality laptop case. This laptop case by Hard Graft is sleek and unique. It can be comfortably worn securely around your back, making it useful for city-dwellers.

  4. Banuce Italian Leather Briefcase for Women ($169.99)

    Certain positions just require a more formal look than others, and that pertains to your bag too. If you’re interviewing for a job that’s expecting more business-formal attire, consider this leather briefcase. It features a standard briefcase design with a hint of more style and femininity. This bag also comes with a great deal of storage and organizational details.

Best Men’s Bags for Interviews

  1. Aldo Norman Messenger Bag ($64.99)

    This bag is a classic option for male applicants looking for function and casual professionalism in their accessories. It comes in a distinct brown color and has many pockets for holding onto anything from application papers to your wallet.

  2. Timbuk2 Closer Laptop Briefcase ($159.00)

    Some jobs depend on your ability to bring your laptop on the go. This laptop case from Timbuk2 makes that necessity a reality, while still keeping you looking professional. It keeps the classic briefcase look with all the modern requirements for remote computer users such as a variety of compartments and changeable straps.

  3. Aldo Eddies Messenger Bag ($49.98)

    The Eddies messenger bag is a good, inexpensive bag alternative that still looks classy. It will coordinate well with most interview outfits and has the potential to be used as a daily bag even after your interview.

  4. Ted Baker Charder Webbing Shoulder Bag ($77.00)

    The design of the Ted Baker Shoulder bag is contemporary and classic at the same time. It secures your valuable items and important interview paperwork in a zippered compartment and can be worn comfortably across the chest or over your shoulder.

    This bag is good for candidates who want a casual bag that they can dress up with their interview outfit.

  5. Samsonite Leather Expandable Business Case ($117.45)

    This briefcase/shoulder bag hybrid is great for anyone who needs extra room and a traditional look. The black leather is a timeless appearance that’s almost guaranteed to be viewed favorably by an interviewer if paired with an equally impressive outfit.

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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