Near, Far, Wherever You Are – A Guide to Navigating Out-of-Town Interviews

Man waiting in airport with suitcase looking out of the window.

For some time now, the job market has been hot for job seekers. Companies are in a frantic search for qualified candidates, meaning that they may be willing to go to extremes to find them. And, if you’ve been looking for a job in a different city or state but have been tossed aside in favor of local candidates, now could be your time to shine. Here are a few things to consider when going on an out-of-town interview.

1. Do you love the company? 

This may seem like a basic question, but you’re about to invest a good chunk of time (and possibly your own money) into interviewing with them. It’s best to try to cover basic logistics before getting there in person. Will the pay be enough if you’re offered the job? What’s the vacation time like? What are some of the company’s core values? If any of these don’t align with what you’re thinking, you may consider saving everyone the time and passing on the interview.

2. Have you done a Skype or FaceTime interview first?

Unless the company is completely unaware of your location, this is a logical first step before inviting you in for an interview. These interviews can easily act as a first-round “in-person” interview. You can chat with different people at the company and get valuable face time with them without booking a flight or train ride.

3. Who’s paying?

This one is awkward – but definitely worth finding out. Are you expected to foot the bill for the interview? If so, think long and hard. If the company isn’t willing to invest in getting you there, you may not be a top candidate.

If the company is paying, figure out who’s in charge of booking the trip. Are you going to have to submit receipts to get reimbursed or will they handle booking the flights and hotels, just giving you the details? If you have to submit receipts, check to see if they have a budget in mind for travel so you don’t end up spending more than they’ll reimburse. Also, be sure to submit receipts promptly so you’re not out a few hundred bucks for months on end.

4. Allow plenty of time

It’s common sense to leave plenty of room before the interview and even before a returning flight. But, it’s worth considering staying an extra day. If the interviewers love you, they may want to bring you back in the next day to meet someone else. A good way to determine if this is a possibility is to ask what the next steps will be for after the in-person interview. Ideally, you’d ask this before booking accommodations so you can plan accordingly.

5. Explore the town

Unless your position is remote or you’re moving back to a location you’ve lived in before, exploring is a great idea. If you’re going to uproot your life for a job, you should make sure you actually like the location you’ll be moving to. Feeling really confident? You might want to look at a few neighborhoods you’d consider living in.

6. Pack some options

You may be dead set on wearing your favorite interview outfit, but the weather in this new city doesn’t quite match what you had planned. Or, if you spill some hotel coffee on your shirt, you don’t want to be left scrubbing it out with bar soap and a washcloth. Having an additional outfit on hand is a good idea for those “just in case” incidences. Plus, if the company does invite you in the next day too, you’ll be fully prepared in a fresh outfit.

7. Prepare like crazy

You’re the out-of-town candidate. It will already be a bit more difficult to hire you logistically, so make sure you impress. Not only do you have to be their top choice, but you have to be that much better to justify them moving you across the country instead of them just settling for the slightly less great Joe Schmoe who lives down the street.

So, pack a bag, practice your answers, and save your receipts. Out-of-town interviews can be a fun and exciting experience if you’re properly prepared. Don’t be afraid to ask questions so you have all the information you need before trekking afar for that interview.

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