Moving to a New City? How to Get a Job Interview Before You Relocate

Jul 06, 2015 - Joe Matar
When you’re job hunting, the gap between submitting a resume and landing an interview can feel huge. But when you’re looking for work in a new city, it can seem absolutely gigantic. But, I’ve found that job hunting long-distance can actually work to your advantage -- if you work it right. How do you get yourself into that seat across the desk from hiring bosses? Plan a trip. Why does this approach work? Bosses like job hunters who are proactive, because they love employees who are proactive. So taking the initiative to ask for the interview is going to impress. What’s more, this approach breaks the normal hiring cycle — so you’re not crammed into a lineup of back-to-back interviews with a slew of other candidates. All you’re competing against is yourself. Not sure how to get a job interview in a city you haven’t moved to yet? Here’s the tried-and-true process I’ve used to quickly land jobs in new cities over and over: (Click here to tweet this process.)

Choose your (career) destination

First, identify the companies you want interviews with. Smaller companies tend to be more likely to be flexible with their hiring processes and jump at the opportunity. For each company, identify an individual to reach out to — one with the power to hire you. Send each contact a brief, professional email explaining that you are going to be in town and would love to come by to introduce yourself. Here’s the email that secured the interview that led to my last job:

Ms. NAME,

I am following up on my application for the [POSITION]. I am going to be in town this Thursday and Friday, and I would love to take advantage of this time to meet with you in person and tell you more about what I have to contribute to [COMPANY], if you have just 15 minutes.

Do you have time for a short meeting?

Regards,

[Email signature, contact details]

The 15-minute ask is great for locking in interviews. It’s a small commitment, but plenty of time to make your case.

The art of scheduling interviews

When scheduling interviews, you’ll have to walk a fine line. Accommodate each interviewer’s schedule as much as you can, of course, but be careful not to book interviews too close together. I usually give about two hours per interview, to play it safe. This allows plenty of time for the interview itself, as well as for travel from office to office -- including time to get lost in transit. It happens! And one more thing: once you’ve picked dates for your trip, don’t buy the tickets just yet. Someone may not be available the date you choose, but ask if you’re still around the next morning. By keeping your dates flexible, you can make that answer an enthusiastic yes.

Working the interview

An interviewer will usually drive the conversation, but be ready to do it yourself — after all, you’re the one who asked for the meeting. You’ll need to plan to go into each interview super prepared. I always bring notes on each company I’m meeting with. They let me turn any down time between interviews into a quickie cram session, and refresh my mind right before entering the building. Once you’re there, be sure to keep your eye on the time. When the 15 minutes you requested are up, politely say, “I’d love to keep talking if you’re able, but I promised to keep this to 15 minutes, so I don’t want to hold you up if you have somewhere you need to be.” I’ve never had anyone shoo me out, but the gesture is important. There’s nothing worse than a hiring boss who feels you’ve taken advantage of the situation or wasted their time.

After the trip

Get every business card you can during your interviews, and make note of the name of every person you spend time with at each company -- not just the person you contacted. Afterwards, send each person a thank-you note. Keep it brief, but don’t miss the opportunity to recap why you’re a great fit for the role, and follow up on any loose ends. For example, if you have a work sample that came up in discussion but wasn’t on you at the time, include it. It’s time to go home and wait for those offers to come in. I’m willing to bet they will. And hey, while you’re in town, take some time to explore the city itself — this is your soon-to-be home! It will help you relax, and if you’re feeling good about your move, it will show in your interviews. Emily Wenstrom is a freelance writer with a focus on content marketing marketing materials. She blogs about the freelance life at Creative Juicer and is editor of short story site wordhaus.