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Tips For The Out Of Town Interview

Few situations offer as much opportunity for disaster as the long- distance interview.

There's all the regular anxiety of a job interview with the added frustrations of packing, catching flights and finding your way around an unfamiliar place.

Still, as online job boards make it easier to find jobs anywhere in the world, the long-distance interview is as necessary as it is burdensome.

Staying Ahead of the Clock

When planning the long-distance interview, it's critical to build buffer time into each leg of the trip.

Plan to arrive in the city where the interview will take place at least a day ahead of time. This will give you time to wind down after your trip, to prepare for the following day's interview and to handle any last-minute emergencies.

Arrive at the airport at least two hours early.

Plan to be at the interview at least an hour early in case of traffic, extreme weather or bad directions. (Keep in mind that the city you're traveling to may not have public transportation that will get you to the interview location. You may need to hire a car or arrange for a rental.)

Have Resumes, Will Travel

Be sure to pack all the things you will need for interview day -- that includes grooming products as well as what you plan to wear to the interview.

And, of course, don't forget to take extra copies of your resume, samples of your work and a list of references. Pack these someplace where they will stay clean and wrinkle-free.

Men should pack: A pressed shirt, suit, belt, tie, dark socks, polished shoes, T-shirt, comb, deodorant, razor, toothbrush, etc.

Women should pack: A blouse, pant/skirt suit, hose/slip, low-heel shoes, brush/comb, deodorant, razor, toothbrush, etc.

Don't cram your interview outfit into a suitcase, assuming that you'll be able to find a dry cleaner or have time to iron it before the interview. Hang the outfit in a garment bag and be sure to carry it on the plane with you.

Always pack a back-up outfit in case of an emergency spill.

Who Pays?

Discuss reimbursement with the potential employer prior to setting out on your trip.

Be clear on what they will pay for and what they won't. Some companies will pay for the hotel, airfare and other expenses. Others will expect you to bart the bill.

If the employer is picking up the tab, save your receipts. Even if you're paying, you'll want to hang onto your receipts as you might be able to write the trip off as a tax deduction.

If at all possible, stay in a hotel -- not with family or friends. You don't need the distraction.

No Rest for the Travel Weary

Be prepared to meet a lot of people. If a company is flying you in, chances are they'll want to introduce you to as many folks as possible.

They'll also expect to take up the lion's share of your time. So, if you thought you could sneak a trip to the beach -- or some other local point of interest -- the chances are slim.

Also, keep in mind that few of the people you'll meet are going to take into consideration the hours you spent at the airport, the crappy hotel they booked you in or -- if you're employed -- the fact that you're eating up your vacation days. Smile and be polite anyway.