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Nightmare Interviews: How far would you go for the job you want?

Written by Kimberley Startup | January 20, 2012 | 6 Comments

Interview adviceI spoke to a job seeker recently who told me she’d been asked to travel to London for an interview for a job based near where she lives in Devon. She was also asked to take-part a telephone interview outside of normal business hours and a third face-to-face interview lasting three hours. All for a job which wasn’t guaranteed to be hers.

This poses the question: is this standard practice? Or is it due to the candidate-rich employer’s market the economic climate has caused? Should candidates expect to have to be more flexible in their approach to interviews and be prepared to exceed the normal level of commitment in order to land that job?

The problems these nightmare interview practises create amount to the fact that if you are unemployed and seeking a new job, you may not be able to afford things like long distance travel at short notice. Equally if you are employed and are seeking to change your job, you may not have the time – either holiday or personal, to get to interviews at short notice or take part in a longer process.

Here are my tips to help try and get around nightmare interviews:

Be proactive
– ask questions such as “Why do I need to travel there?” – but whilst retaining a degree of professionalism and seeming flexible

– if companies are willing to negotiate on salary then it is possible that they will be willing to change interview locations if they are presented with a valid reason.

Ask the HR department – or the recruiters – if expenses can be claimed back.

Be professional
Only agree to attend interviews and phone interviews during business hours, perhaps during lunch-breaks.

Also, don’t forget, you’ve been asked to attend an interview which means the company is interested in you and you have something that they want – jobs work both ways. Plus it never hurts to ask for information, and if you don’t ask you may never know.

Above all, try to strike a balance, for the time being, it’s still an employers market and you don’t want to come across as uninterested. What’s your nightmare interview scenario?

For more interview tips, check out our latest tips. 


6 thoughts on “Nightmare Interviews: How far would you go for the job you want?

  1. Ashley Smith on Reply

    Recruiters often seem to forget that their job is to try and find the person who would be best suited to the job they are recruiting. Their role should not be to make their own lives easier by weeding out otherwise suitable candidates using arbitrary criteria.

    Willingness to have an interview outside normal working hours MAY be totally appropriate for some jobs – but I suspect that in most cases it isn’t. Recruiters should be very wary of breaking the discrimination laws – for example by unfairly ruling out those with young families or particular religious convictions.

    1. Alex Coombes on Reply

      Very good point Ashley, recruiters should be aware of any discrimination laws that affect the recruitment process and should act accordingly. Never be afraid to question any out-of-the-ordinary interview or recruitment requests, there should always be a reason and as the candidate, you have a right to know. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Kevin Friery on Reply

    When I was in my final year at Exeter I was offered a second interview at a large London advertising agency. I was on a field trip to Lundy Island the week beforehand and a storm prevented us from leaving for several days so I couldn’t make the interview. When I contacted them to explain, they said if I had any initiative I would have chartered a helicopter and cross charged it to them. Absolutely true story.

    1. Alex Coombes on Reply

      That is really quite extreme, the question has to be: what would they have said when they recieved the bill for the helicopter? Additionally, wouldn’t flying a helicopter in a heavy strom be quite dangerous too? These employers were clearly asking too must and expecting too much as well. Excellent story Kevin, thanks for your input.

  3. John Ashmore on Reply

    I will travel almost anywhere for a serious interview for a rewarding job, as that is the nature of the marketplace at the moment. However I am forced to be selective now, as very few companies offer any cost of travel recompense, and to me, it really shouldn’t be the place of the candidate to have to ask.

    Any professionally run company with any understanding of empathy knows how far you are travelling to get there and the reality of travel cost, and could make it plain in the invitation to interview that reasonable expenses will be paid. On the other hand, they may only raise it after the interview as you have then proved you were serious about the potential of the job, and actually turned up not knowing there were any expenses.

    Even if you don’t get the job you leave that interview with a high opinion of that company’s mature approach to people, and how they foresee/react to minor relationship details.

    1. Alex Coombes on Reply

      Thanks for your comment John, I agree that it shouldn’t be the candidate’s place to ask, I also believe that if the job is local to where you are and the employer is asking you to travel long distances to attend – it should be your right to be able to clain back expenses.

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