Managing Job Interviews from a Distance
By Michelle Dumas
Q. I’m ready to start reaching out and sending my résumé to New Hampshire employers. I think I’ll get a lot of interest; I’m not really worried about that. What I can’t figure out is the logistics of interviewing. I’m currently living in North Carolina. What will I do when employers start calling to set up interviews? **
A. Being available for interviews within a time frame that meets the schedule of your prospective employer is one of the most challenging parts of searching for a new job from a distance. While your experience will vary depending on your experience level and the current “demand” in your industry, most employers will be interested in a strong candidate who is available to interview at the employer’s convenience and who is also available to start the job when needed. The trick then, is to make the logistics of the long-distance interview as easy as possible for the employer. But how do you do this?
Assuming you do not have unlimited time and funds to travel back and forth on a whim, you have two choices:
1. Take an “interview vacation.” If possible, schedule a trip (or better, two or three trips spaced a month or two apart) to New Hampshire for the sole purpose of meeting with people in-person for networking, conducting informational interviews (more about both of these job search strategies in future columns), and interviewing with prospective employers. If you are already traveling to New Hampshire for an FSP event such as Liberty Forum or PorcFest, extend your visit by a week and devote the extra days to your job search.
With your trip planned, now get to work scheduling appointments. When you apply for a job opening, address your relocation in your cover letter and state the dates of your visit.
For example: “I am planning to relocate to New Hampshire within the next three months, and so the timing of this position is ideal. In preparation for my move, I will be in the area September 9-15 and would love the chance to meet with you in person at that time. However, I am also available for a video interview at any time, if that is more convenient for you. Also, please know that everything is in place so that I may relocate and begin work immediately upon hiring."
2. Leverage technology. With today's technology, it is possible to conduct interviews from any corner of the globe, and video interviews are becoming increasingly common. These interviews are often conducted using Skype, GoToMeeting, or a similar service. A video interview can be scheduled at everyone’s convenience and still provides a face-to-face experience. The best part, of course, is that nobody must travel.
When you interview in this way, treat it just like any other interview. Dress as you would for a traditional interview, make sure you are in a quiet place with no distractions, and pay attention to your surroundings. What will the employer see behind you? You want it to be neat and tidy! You certainly don’t want them to catch a glimpse of your unmade bed or day-old dirty dishes. It is also a good idea to test your computer before the interview by contacting a friend over the video service to make sure both the audio and video feeds work.
Regardless of whether the interview is conducted in person or by video feed, be prepared to discuss your relocation and how that might impact your start date. If asked why you are moving, you might mention that you have good friends in the state and are eager to live nearer them. Or, that you fell in love with the culture of the state during a recent trip and decided this is where you really want to raise your family. Both of these statements are likely very true without being too personal. Reiterate that you have the resources in place to move immediately after being hired. This will reassure the employer that you are not seeking relocation costs while letting them know you are as available to start work as a local candidate.
Michelle Dumas has spent the more than 20 years consulting and coaching job seekers all over the world on career-related topics such as résumé writing, job search strategies and techniques, career planning, online identity, interviewing, networking, and more. She's supported thousands of job hunters in conducting successful job searches and has helped entrepreneurs in creating the personal marketing tools they need to pursue funding and launch new businesses. You can learn more about her and her expertise on her websites: Distinctive Documents and FreeStateJobs.com.