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Updated Oct 23, 2023

How to Ace an Out-of-State Job Interview

Invest time in planning, preparing and practicing.

Leslie Pankowski headshot
Written By: Leslie PankowskiBusiness Strategy Insider and Senior Writer
Verified Check With BorderEditor Reviewed
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Editor Reviewed
This guide was reviewed by a Business News Daily editor to ensure it provides comprehensive and accurate information to aid your buying decision.

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Sometimes opportunities come to you. Other times, you must travel to meet your opportunities. Relocating and starting a new job out of state can be a challenge. However, if it’s something you’re considering, it’s essential to prepare for your interview and consider all aspects of your career change.

We’ll explore tips to help job seekers ace their out-of-state job interviews and set themselves up for success in their new surroundings.

How to prepare for an out-of-state job interview

Job searching in the digital age means you’re not limited to your immediate surroundings. If you’re open to relocating, you can expand your job search to include new cities, states and even countries. However, preparation is crucial, and you must convey to hiring managers that you’re the right fit for the job. 

“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.”

Here are six tips for honing your interview skills and preparing for your out-of-state job interview. 

Did You Know?Did you know
Some companies offer employee relocation packages to help new hires and current employees offset the costs of moving to a new city, state or country for work.

1. Research the relocation area thoroughly.

Before you uproot your life and move to another state, make sure you understand the new environment. Bill Peppler, chief operating officer of staffing firm Kavaliro, advises job seekers traveling to an onsite interview to give themselves enough time to become familiar with the surroundings and location. 

Even if you’re interviewing via a videoconferencing service, researching the company’s local reputation, company culture, clients and community involvement can inform your interview answers and show hiring managers you’re serious about relocating.

“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.”

2. Test your technology before a video interview.

A video interview is an excellent option that companies often use to speak 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 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. “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 spotty, consider going to another location with a better connection, such as a friend’s home, for your interview.

Videoconferencing tips include researching your setup's functionality and familiarizing yourself with background options, chat functions and troubleshooting features.

3. Practice for your out-of-state job interview.

As with any other job interview, preparing answers to popular interview questions before your meeting is crucial. Sutton Fell suggests setting up a mock interview with a friend, especially if you’ll speak with the company via videoconference.

“A video interview feels a lot different than an in-person interview, so be sure to practice in advance,” Sutton Fell explained. “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.”

Consider recording your mock interview and reviewing your performance for additional practice and preparation. When you watch the video, you can spot and correct problems, including interview body language faux pas. This preparation will help you avoid interview mistakes and present a more polished demeanor. 

4. Look professional for your out-of-state job interview.

Looking professional is essential whether you’re interviewing in person or via videoconference — 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. Ensure that any jewelry and accessories look professional and won’t distract the interviewer, and stay still and focused while on camera.

Send a post-interview thank-you letter after in-person and virtual interviews. A thank-you note can help you stand out and show your genuine interest in the role and organization.

5. Plan your trip to your out-of-state job interview.

Traveling to an in-person out-of-state job interview is like playing an away game for an athlete — you’re competing at a slight disadvantage, so being prepared is essential. 

Reserve an extra day or two to travel and get ready for the interview. If your flight is delayed or you get stuck in traffic and are forced to reschedule, it’s likely to count against you.

6. Explore the area where your out-of-state job interview will take place.

If you’ve never visited the in-person interview location, taking extra time to explore the area is worthwhile. Moving to a new state is a significant life change. It may not be as dramatic if you’re single, but it can be monumental if you’re married or have children.

Look at local real estate and schools (if you have children). Consider any amenities or luxuries the location provides and what the cost of moving will be.

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. Weigh a location’s pros and cons before you commit to moving. The only way to get an accurate idea of life in a new location is to experience it first-hand. 

Spending enough time to get acquainted with the area before committing to the job can give you a better sense of whether or not you can adapt to the local culture and pace of life.

Did You Know?Did you know
If you're expanding your business to another state, do your due diligence to learn the local area's taxation and regulation laws, which may differ significantly from the state in which you incorporated.

The pros and cons of seeking out-of-state jobs

Relocating for work can boost your career and start you on a new adventure. However, transitioning to an out-of-state job can be a challenge. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of out-of-state jobs. 

Job seekers who interview for out-of-state jobs may discover more choices, opportunities and benefits, including the following: 

  • Career advancement. Moving to another state often brings professional growth. Your new position may offer more responsibility, senior titles, larger compensation packages and a better employee benefits package.
  • Personal growth. Your new position may allow you to express your creativity and talents more freely, especially if the local talent pool lacks qualified applicants.
  • Improved happiness. Living in new surroundings and working at a dream job can boost your morale and offer a better work-life balance. Additionally, you may enjoy closer proximity to family and friends as well as better community services and amenities.
  • Lower cost of living. While a relocation doesn’t always bring a lower cost of living, your new area may be less expensive to live in than your previous state. 

On the flip side, relocating to another state brings challenges as well: 

  • Learning curve at work and home. Starting a new job and new life isn’t easy. You’ll need time to learn new things at work and in your new neighborhood. Give yourself time and space to get acclimated and comfortable when everything is new.
  • Relationship challenges. Family dynamics and relationships change with a big move. If you’re moving with a family, consider each member’s needs. If you’re moving away from family and friends, remember that making new connections in a new area takes time. 
  • Professional uncertainty. You may be a fish out of water in your new company at first. Different areas and organizations have various customs and norms. Work with your new employer to create a successful onboarding plan that includes active listening and opportunities to practice what you learn with your new colleagues and teammates. 

Leaning into your desire for change 

If you’re interviewing for an out-of-state job, chances are you’re seeking change. There are probably unique aspects of this job that you find attractive. Perhaps you’re willing to relocate because you can’t find what this prospective job and area can provide where you currently live and work.

When preparing for your out-of-state job interview, focus on your interest in the role, company and location. If you include your local knowledge in your conversations and responses during interviews, you’ll show the hiring manager that you’re a fit for the position and that you’re prepared and excited for the changes and challenges of relocation. 

Adam Uzialko contributed to the reporting and writing in this article. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Leslie Pankowski headshot
Written By: Leslie PankowskiBusiness Strategy Insider and Senior Writer
Marketing expert and small business owner Leslie Pankowski has spent nearly 30 years guiding companies through their advertising efforts. Her consultative services include market analysis, audience analysis, media proposals, campaign effectiveness and more. She is skilled at using data analytics to drive business decisions, developing strategic partnerships and drafting communications plans. Pankowski has taught marketing concepts and best practices to the next generation of business leaders at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business (from which she holds an MBA), the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College and at Marymount University. She is also passionate about business leadership and talent management and has served as a consultant for the executive staffing company vChief.
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