Traveling for a job interview is similar to traveling for business, with one exception—when you travel for a job interview, you’re under the microscope for the whole process. There are a couple of key things you can do to demonstrate your professionalism and minimize stress when you travel for a job interview.
Be Clear on Arrangements
Most potential employers will have a clearly defined process when a candidate is traveling for an interview, which they should outline for you. But, if things are unclear, be sure to ask questions. You should know exactly who is making what specific arrangements—airfare, hotel, and ground transportation. The company may handle arrangements directly and tell you where to be when, or they may ask you to make arrangements on your own within the scope of a defined policy and then seek reimbursement from them. Also, you should know what expenses the prospective employer will reimburse you for and what you need to cover yourself.
Your Potential Employer is Not a Travel Agent
You should show initiative and have the ability to travel independently. Don’t ask the company questions that you can easily find via an Internet search. Remember that you’re demonstrating skills and your ability to fit in with the company at each step.
Many employers consider the job interview to be a test, and they’ll be reviewing your expenses and evaluating your fiscal judgment. Don’t put yourself in first class, and always stay at a modest business hotel.
You should keep receipts for everything, even if the company says it’s unnecessary. Submitting an organized expense report with appropriate receipts shows your future employer that you pay attention to detail and are conscientious.
If possible, try to arrive a day early. Giving yourself extra time will allow you to work around any potential travel delays, like flight disruptions. Flying in and out the same day saves on hotels, but it can be very stressful for you, and there’s very little margin for error if there’s a weather delay. Having a little bit of breathing room will also allow you to focus your attention where it needs to be—on your interview—rather than on travel stress.
Make Schedules Work in Your Favor
Try to schedule your interview on Monday. You can travel in on Saturday and save money on the flight with a Saturday night stay. If you’re considering relocating, this extra time will give you the chance to explore the area to determine if you want to make the move. You should expect to pay for any extra hotel nights and meals yourself.
Be Aware of Your Body Clock
Try to work the interview around your biology. If you’re a morning person, try to schedule the interview for the morning. Alternatively, if you’re better after lunch, try to schedule for later in the day. Don’t drink excessive coffee or caffeine that will necessitate extra bathroom breaks. Bring your own bottle of water to the interview.
Travel With a Carry-On
Checking baggage presents an opportunity for something to go wrong. You should always travel to your job interview with a carry-on bag. Be sure to double-check that you have everything you need. It may also be wise to bring duplicates of certain items in case of a spill or minor wardrobe malfunction—missing button, stuck zipper, etc.
Have Cash On-Hand
Always carry extra cash to cover taxis, hotel bellmen and other small expenses. Don’t rely on credit cards for small transactions.
Be Aware of Those Around You
The business world is small. Treat each person you meet as if they work for your future employer. You never know if the person sitting at the next table is associated with the company. It’s not above some companies to send out someone to check in on you. Treat the entire trip as if you’re “always on” and making an impression.
When you travel for a job interview, do everything possible to minimize complexity. You don’t need to prove Murphy’s Law when you’re trying to put your best foot forward. Also, you should treat the entire job interview process as if you are you’re being evaluated at every step along the way.