Indiana, PA - Indiana County

BOB LANKARD: Out-of-town interviews

by on March 09, 2014 1:49 AM

Dislocated workers who were affected by the Great Recession have discovered a very new world of work. They may have to look for jobs out of the area. This means out-of-town interviews. These interviews take a different approach than when you drive across town

In contrast to an in-town interview, the out-of-town interviews may:

• Last all day

• Involve multiple interviews and interviewers, or a group interview

• Include lunch or dinner

• Have issues of motels and directions to offices in what may be an unfamiliar city

• Requires the job seeker to incur additional expenses

The most challenging aspect of an out-of-town interview may be that you could be in the interview process the entire day and will interview with a series of people. The people will normally include those from the personnel department as well as various managers and the person who would be your supervisor.

Perhaps a maddening feature of this process will be the likelihood that these individuals will ask you the same or very similar questions.

You must be careful not to contradict yourself.

Another wrinkle more common with out-of-town interviews is what is known as a group interview.

This could better be labeled a panel interview because it involves the job seeker being in a room with a number of company representatives. Each takes their turn asking the job seeker questions.

If an out-of-town interview lasts all day, a part of the agenda will be lunch or dinner.

The dinner may appear to be as social time. I say “appear” because they may be chatting with you about cross-country skiing, but you will not cease to be evaluated for one minute. Your grammar, social skills and manners will be evaluated during this time.

The message is clear: Your degree won’t mean much if you use your fork like a spear, cannot make an introduction, or don’t use please and thank you.

I suggest all job seekers facing an interview session involving a meal obtain an etiquette book at the library to improve areas possibly neglected earlier in life. Table manners and the ability to introduce someone may be those factors that will make a difference.

One should know their resume cold so that the job seeker can discuss their background between courses.

The job seeker should follow the lead of the employer representative in ordering, and regarding use of alcohol and smoking. Let them order first. Do not order anything more expensive than the employer.

If the interviewer orders a traditional meal like roast beef and mashed potatoes, then don’t order something exotic like calamari or frog’s legs.

If I were in an interview meal situation I would not order spaghetti or any other type of messy dish. One cannot be participating in an interview meal while cleaning your dinner off your white shirt.



Bob Lankard, a retired employment specialist at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry's Indiana Job Center, is a job-search columnist for the Indiana Gazette. Read his columns on Sundays.
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