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Ace an Out-of-Town Interview

If you're considering relocating for a job, take note of these interview tips to help increase your chances.

Congratulations, you just landed an interview or meeting with a cool new company in another city.

Once the meeting is scheduled and your flight is booked, is there more you could do to get ready?

You've already researched the company. Your resume or presentation is up-to-the-minute current.

And yet you wonder: Is there anything else you should be doing to get ready for an out-of-town face-to-face interview?

All meetings are basically the same, right?

Actually, an out-of-town meeting or interview presents a special challenge.

You're faced with strange surroundings, unfamiliar logistics and a bit of extra tension over whether relocation will be an issue for you -- or your employer.

So you should be mindful of a few things you might not have thought of that can put you in the employer's best -- or worst -- light.

And today, since a number of companies (such as


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) are located in unfamiliar places (such as Bentonville, Ark.) but still recruit thousands of employees and suppliers from all over the country, you might easily find yourself in this situation.

Click here for the video version of this story from Jennifer Openshaw.

Here are six tips that could make a big difference.

  • Know the route.Research the best way to get to the office or interview from the airport or your hotel. Remember, you want to appear confident, skilled and on top of things. That's not the impression you'll give if you need the company to walk you through the process of finding their front door.You're a big kid now. Don't get lost. Find the office on your own.
  • Talk to the driver (if you use one).I just traveled to Nebraska to meet the CEO of TD Ameritrade. Lo and behold, the driver -- an ex-cop -- had been his driver. Call it luck. But aside from being the CEO's driver, this ex-cop knew everything about the city: companies moving in and out, economic development, growth trends -- all information that can make you appear more on top of things.
  • Identify key locations.Once you know the area the office is located in, try to identify some possible business meal locations nearby. That way, should your interview extend to lunch or dinner you can say casually, "I've heard Cafe So-and-so is pretty good." You might cop a good meal, but better yet, it shows some interest and lets them know you've done some homework.They might not go with your suggestion, but it's the thought that counts.
  • Know what's happening.Read the local paper online to get a feel for what's happening in town. You don't have to know who holds every local political office, but it wouldn't hurt to know what the big issues are. Is there a new plan for downtown revitalization or a sports arena? Other big business news?You'll get good material to talk about, not to mention avoiding embarrassment of not knowing something. And besides, you'll get a feel for what it would be like to actually live there, should you make the leap.
  • Keep it positive.Even if what you learned reading the paper wasn't very flattering, don't knock the place. If you have qualms about the crime rate, concerns about the quality of the local schools, or complaints about the weather, zip your lip on the first face-to-face visit. Save it all for the second interview or follow-up discussion.You don't want attitude to get in the way of your chance.
  • Don't look at your watch.You're there, now relax. Yes, you might miss your flight. Yes, you might be inconvenienced. But put yourself in their shoes -- would you want to add people to your team who are so focused on themselves and their needs to get back home?"Early in the afternoon it was obvious to me that I wouldn't make my 4 p.m. flight," a friend told me recently about a Seattle interview. "But the only reason I was there that day was to get a job, so what was the point of being nervous and cutting off the discussion to rush to the airport? As long as they wanted to keep talking to me, I wanted to keep talking to them. I made other plans later."Right attitude.

The bottom line: As an out-of-town candidate, you want to appear proactive, interested in the local community and willing to focus your energies on the company's behalf.

Acting accordingly will help tip the scales in your favor.

Jennifer Openshaw, a passionate advocate for helping Americans improve their finances and build their personal fortunes, is CEO of

The Millionaire Zone and America Online's personal finance editor. In addition to appearing regularly on TV shows such as "Oprah" and "Good Morning America" and on CNN, Openshaw is host of ABC Radio's "Winning Advice" and serves as an adviser to some of America's top corporations. Her new book,

"The Millionaire Zone," will hit bookstores in April 2007.