There’s a special kind of slash across the wrists that comes from being on the defensive, prospective work-wise, almost before you even meet the people interviewing you. Add to that the typical harried nature of travel and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. But fear not my fellow job seeker, because you’ve got an equipment manager on your side, and I’ll get you where you’re going.
If you’re traveling to a job interview, it’s a safe bet that you’ve already slugged it out a few rounds with Human Resources and come out on top. Now, you have an objective, get out there and impress the organization in person (and get paid.) There’s a few things to know before you get on that plane, train, or interstate highway.
- Look up your organization online before you accept a job offer. I know, I know, people tell you to do this before you even apply, but let’s be realistic here. When you’re looking for work, unless the company is called ‘We Kill Puppies, LLC.’ you’re eying up the job’s requirements and pay, first, and who’s offering it, second. The time to figure out what you’re in for is after they’ve scheduled the interview. An interview is not a job! You can always say no, and there are a number of websites that can help you make that decision. Sites like glassdoor and The Chronicle of Higher Education provide not just job advertisements, but advice and workplace evaluations from people who’ve worked or interviewed at the same places you’re applying, too.
- Sister, don’t be the one the secretary shakes her head at. Keep your receipts! If the job interview calls for travel, then the organization might have funds set aside to help you. Ask the department secretary or speak with HR whether or not your organization is prepared to either help with the costs of travel, or has a reimbursement policy in place. If they do, save your receipts (gas, plane tickets, hotel and food expenses) and turn them in, but keep copies for yourself.
- Where will you stay? This is actually a little more involved than you might think. Of course, there’s always the old standby of friends in the area! Who else can you impose upon for the price of a cup of coffee? But if that’s out, then check with the organization. If you’re interviewing at a university you could save a few bucks by being put up in a guest room in an on-campus dormitory. If it’s a corporate trip, the company might have a discount rate at a local hotel.
- Also, let’s be real, if the job wants you to come out and interview, but either can’t or won’t help you with the cost of travel, well, that’s a sign all by itself.
Dress Like an Adult (Even If You Don’t Feel Like One)
Sometimes an organization will meet you right when you arrive, and sometimes they wait until the day of the interview. This makes not just packing, but what to wear when traveling into another interview hurdle. In general, my rule of thumb is to be as comfortable as possible, but business wear wasn’t especially designed to make that happen.
Neutral, easily exchanged pieces of clothing are the way to go when you’re traveling for business. Pick a camisole or shell that best complements your skin tone, and bring two solid color overshirts, one to wear and a folded back up. Jackets optional, but recommended. To complete the look, black pants and either black flats or shoes with a low heel. I love a good stiletto as much as the next person who’s five foot three, but walking down three concourses and a taxi stand in 4 inch heels is only funny in retrospect. Less pain, more gain!
If you’re into makeup, keep it light and easy to touch up. The dry air in public transport doesn’t do wonders for foundation, no matter how short the trip might be. It’s easier to take a kit in your carry-on and fix your face in the bathroom just before after you arrive. If you don’t wear make up, I still recommend hand lotion just to keep your hands from that weird, itchy stretched feeling they can develop during travel.
Carry your resume and, if required, presentation materials in separate folders in your carry-on, but keep a snack bar or a bag of nuts/trail mix/chocolate almonds in your purse. It’s all about making sure you keep your stress down and your blood sugar level.
If this is an overnight stay, then my weekend bag rules are pretty straightforward. A spare pair of black pants, extra socks and underwear, and comfy pajamas. But, since this is a job interview, if you have the time, always bring yourself a treat to decompress: a book you love, music that calms you, a USB full of legally obtained TV shows, something to help you decompress and re-focus. Me, I like to grab a bite to eat and then watch cooking shows (Nerdy Nummies satisfies both my stomach and my love of geekery).
I know it’s a lot to take in, and traveling for work you don’t already have makes it even more difficult, but take my advice and we’ll have you scoring in no time. And, if you find yourself post-job interview with nowhere to go, come on over and rundown the list on Portland, OR’s best places to go when you have no idea what to do. It’s rainy, it’s foggy, and it’s home to several sports teams of various standards of quality, but that’s next week’s installment of The Equipment Manager!