Sometimes, opportunities come to you. Other times, you have to go where the opportunities are. The decision to relocate and start a new job out of state isn't always an easy one, but if it's something you're thinking about, there are a lot of factors to consider, especially when it comes to the job interview.
"Some companies are reluctant to hire from out of the area because it is a big investment on their part in terms of relocation and onboarding," said Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of job-listing website FlexJobs. "You really need to sell yourself based on your qualifications and the value you can add to that particular company."
Whether you're traveling to the job site or video conferencing with the hiring manager, here are a few tips to help you prepare for an out-of-state job interview.
Research the area.
It seems obvious, but before you uproot your life and move to another state, it's important to know what the new environment is like. Bill Peppler, managing partner of staffing firm Kavaliro, said that if you're going to an on-site interview, give yourself plenty of time to familiarize yourself with the surroundings and location. Even if it's a video meeting, researching the company's local reputation, clients and community involvement can still help you during your interview.
"You should also check out the typical salary and cost of living in that state or area," Peppler recommended. "These costs can vary a lot by location, and it's good to have an expectation and some knowledge of this going into an out-of-state job interview."
Test your technology.
A video interview is an excellent and frequently used option for speaking with out-of-state candidates. It saves time and travel expenses while offering the benefits of a face-to-face experience. However, no technology is without its bugs, and things occasionally go wrong.
"Technical issues with a digital interview might count as a mark against your professional image," said Paul Bailo, author of The Essential Digital Interview Handbook (Career Press, 2013). "It's not impossible, but it is extremely hard to recover. Get it right the first time by checking and rechecking, testing and retesting your connection."
If your home internet connection is notoriously spotty, consider going to another location with a better connection, such as a friend's home, for your interview.
Practice, practice, practice.
As with any other job interview, it is a good idea to prepare answers for questions before your meeting. Sutton Fell suggested setting up a mock interview with a friend, especially if you'll be speaking with the company via video conference.
"A video interview feels a lot different than an in-person interview, so be sure to practice in advance," she told BusinessNewsDaily. "Ask a friend to play the role of the company so you can practice talking into the camera and setting up your home office so everything looks nice."
For further practice and preparation, you can record your mock interview and review your performance. When you watch the video, you can see what needs improvement and correct it before the real interview.
If your job interview is taking place via video conference, it's still just as important to look well groomed and put together, even if your interviewer sees you from the shoulders up.
In addition to wearing appropriate job-interview attire, video interview candidates should adjust the lighting to avoid shadows on camera, Bailo said. Ensure that any jewelry worn is professional-looking and won't cause a distraction and, finally, stay still and focused while on camera.
Plan your trip.
Out-of-state job interviews are like playing an away game for an athlete – you're competing at a slight disadvantage, so it's important that you are prepared. The best thing to do is to make a plan. Make sure you reserve an extra day or two to travel and prepare. If your flight gets delayed or you get stuck in traffic and are forced to reschedule, it's likely to count against you.
Explore the area.
If you have never visited the location, it's worthwhile to take some extra time and explore the area. Moving to a new state is a major life change. If you're single, it may not be as dramatic, but if you're married or have children, it can be monumental.
Take a look at local real estate and the schools (if you have children). Take into account any amenities or luxuries the location provides and what the ultimate cost will be if you move there.
For example, a job in New York City offers numerous opportunities that a job in St. Louis doesn't, but the cost of living is much higher. It's smart to weigh the pros and cons before you commit to moving, and the only way you can get an accurate idea of what a new location is really like is to experience it first-hand. Spending enough time exploring before you commit can give you a better sense of whether you're able to adapt to the local culture and pace of life.