How to be flown out or hired over the phone?
September 12, 2008 4:30 PM   Subscribe

InternationalInterviewFilter: 1) How do I convince them to fly me out for an interview? OR 2) Get hired over the phone? (then have them relocate me)

I am aware that either of these scenarios are rarer occurrences, however, my question is about how to best present the risk to a potential employer.

I live in the US, the job is in Europe. After a few emails, I've been asked when I'll next be in the city. The glitch is that next time has to be when I already know who is employing me!

It is a senior level position and I have the experience to match. I have the time to fly out. So, at this point it'd be a question of chemistry.

Any suggestions on how to sweet talk the potential employer that I'm worth the risk?
posted by jazzybelle to Work & Money (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: ooh.. and sorry, thanks in advance!
posted by jazzybelle at 4:31 PM on September 12, 2008

"Unfortunately, I have no immediate plans to travel to London. Perhaps we could conduct a phone interview before either of us commits to the expense of airplane fare."
posted by DarlingBri at 5:40 PM on September 12, 2008

Best answer: "I live in the US, the job is in Europe. After a few emails, I've been asked when I'll next be in the city. The glitch is that next time has to be when I already know who is employing me!

It is a senior level position and I have the experience to match. I have the time to fly out. So, at this point it'd be a question of chemistry."

Ok, let's see: you're interested and you're not clear on their level of interest.

But from my (admittedly myopic point of view) it seems like they've probed your level of interest by asking when you'd next be in the city. Now problem (from your point of view) is that you won't, unless, of course, they foot the bill. I'd play it this way.

Tell them you're not planning on taking any holiday for six months / one year / the foreseeable future. In the same sentence mention that you could, of course, make arrangements to do so, if, of course, they'd like to see you.

Be bold. Be formal. Ask them directly if they're interested. Sounds like this ain't gonna move forward until someone makes the first move. Sounds like you have to make the first move here.

They have to pick up your expenses. After all, you're already showing both interest and commitment by devoting your holiday time to considering an opportunity with them.

Ground rules here: you fly Business Class. Someone picks you up and returns you to the airport. You're staying at a hotel, not a motel. I like and recommend Four Seasons myself. Regardless of where you do stay, meals, drinks, transportation, lodging, they're covering it all.

Remember the golden rule of negotiation: those who asks, gets.

If this falls through don't worry, there will always be other opps. By the same token, don't sell yourself short.

You know your worth, your value. Sell yourself. Best of luck.
posted by Mutant at 5:40 PM on September 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

If they do agree, expect to be given service equivalent to their own comparable employees. I wouldn't demand all the things on Mutant's list unless that is consistent with company culture.
posted by metahawk at 6:36 PM on September 12, 2008

being flown out for interviews is fairly usual for senior-level positions (and in my industry even lower-ranking emloyees) but I noticed this to be more so the case in the US than among european companies.

you might have to 'suggest' they arrange for a meeting if they are interested. especially larger organizations will have a set protocol for travel arrangements set up. smaller companies might need a little help ('we will reimburse you' deals may happen). nobody can expect you to embark on an international trip on your own dime for an interview and if they are suggesting you should do so, I'd question their sincerity.

I would not be so bold as mutant suggested. you run the risk of coming across as difficult.
posted by krautland at 7:58 PM on September 12, 2008

If this is a larger company, the hiring manager(s) will have had to put together a hiring ticket, or business case for the position. It would have included costs associated with recruitment or finders fees if a headhunter is involved. If it is a v. senior role, the headhunter may pick up any travel costs if they truly feel you are the best candidate for the position they've been commissioned to fill. Basically, if they aren't willing to pick up the tab, you should question whether they are really committed to hiring the best talent for the role.

I disagree with Mutant regarding what to expect. They should, quite reasonably in my mind, cover your travel expenses according to their policies. If that includes business class and your choice of hotel, then great! But it's not normally that glamourous.

Also, one last point. I would expect that there will be a vetting process before meeting face to face. You need to have a phone interview first.
posted by michswiss at 8:28 PM on September 12, 2008

I would not be so bold as mutant suggested. you run the risk of coming across as difficult.

YMMV, but I'm with Mutant. An interview works both ways. If they're like this when they are trying to recruit you, how do you think they will be once you start working there?

For a senior level position, any employer who is unwilling to pay business class travel and decent accomodation costs - and a proper meal - for an out of town interview isn't worth bothering with.
posted by three blind mice at 3:52 AM on September 13, 2008

From my experience on the recruiting side of things Mutant is bang on with regards as to how to approach them; put the ball in to their court saying you'd be willing to take some leave at an appropriate date if they want to fly you over.

I'd be very surprised if they were not willing to foot the bill for the trip, and if they aren't I'd discount travelling on your own dime as they likely wouldn't have the budget for relocation costs for you even if the chemistry was right.

Suggested text... "My present role does not require me to be in London in the foreseeable future. However, as I am very interested in the role I would be willing to travel to London to meet at a date of your convenience. Please let me know what date suits and whether you will make the travel arrangements, or whether I should do so myself and send the invoices on to yourself."

It is not unusual or cheeky to expect them to pick up the tab for the opportunity to meet you face to face. If they can't afford to pay to see you they can't afford to hire/relocate you.

No need to mention 'I'll expect to be flown business class and stay in a 4 star hotel thank you very much'- you should get an itinerary off them if they are arranging that you can refuse if too low class for your tastes. If you are asked to organise it yourself and they will foot the bill after you can go back to them with planned itinerary and costs before booking and ask them to OK it.

Best of luck.
posted by Gratishades at 6:03 AM on September 13, 2008

Just to be clear. I also agree that they should pay for any travel for any face to face discussions, after a phone interview. The specific area that I think is over the top is Mutant's suggestion of,

Ground rules here: you fly Business Class. Someone picks you up and returns you to the airport. You're staying at a hotel, not a motel. I like and recommend Four Seasons myself. Regardless of where you do stay, meals, drinks, transportation, lodging, they're covering it all.

That's where it gets pushy. Just to repeat: They should pay any travel expenses, but expect it to be in line with their policy for the level at which you'd enter the firm.

Each situation is unique, but I'd be surprised if any company would jump from email to significant travel without at least one or two conversations to establish a dialogue and expectations before hand. At least with the recruiter.

If you don't mind my asking, what industry are you in?
posted by michswiss at 7:15 AM on September 13, 2008

I think that business class and a hotel of the standard of the Four Seasons would violate travel policy of all but the most senior staff of the large bank I'm currently contracted to in London.

They should definitely pay for your travel and accommodation up front, you shouldn't be invoicing them for your expenses (as a current non-employee).

Be firm but polite, Gratishades's approach seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Failing that a video conference or multiple phone interviews before they fly you would be best bet, make sure you hit all their expectations and then as you say it's simply chemistry/making sure you don't hate each other.

Good luck!
posted by hardcode at 7:55 AM on September 13, 2008

Best answer: Ok, lots of responses since my original comment. Let me clarify mine a little.

All discussions related to and including the interview itself are really nothing more than negotiations. You're negotiating to convince them you can do the job. You're negotiating to insure that you're treated well, with the respect that should be afforded someone of your position. If things go well at some point you'll be negotiating over compensation packages, relocation issues and specific contract terms. International employment issues add significantly to the employers overall cost. You need to be certain these folks are for real, and these assurances start with first impressions, in other words, the interview.

You need to aim high otherwise there is a significant risk this whole thing will be conducted "on the cheap" as it were. You really don't want to send a message that indicates budget is acceptable for lots of reasons, starting with you are doing them a favour by interviewing - internationally no less. After all, they apparently didn't offer the option that they'd travel to your city to conduct the interviews.

I'm American and have been living and working in London for well over a decade. I've seen lots of folks come over to interview and accept jobs under a wide variety of circumstances.

Start this thing out wrong by negotiating from a position of weakness and you might find yourself with a job offer, but having to move yourself and possessions over at your expense, perhaps living & working in Europe without proper documentation, maybe providing services to this firm as an independent contractor with salary paid into a US based account, not eligible for local legal protection should wages not be paid, all currency risk borne by yourself, no proper pension plan in place or funded by your "employer", etc, etc.

I've known people who have moved to London to work under such circumstances and this isn't the way to go as it only creates problems down the road starting with, but not limited to income taxes (you will still have to pay US taxes), health insurance, council taxes, the ramifications of overstaying a tourist visa, any issues that might be caused by working in a country without a permit, etc. Not recommended.

FWIW, most institutions (e.g., especially so in my field, banking) have standards regarding travel which are a function of the distance flown (usually anything over six hours mandates Business Class) and seniority. I suspect from the original query this is a fairly senior position, and you've already indicated you'd be traveling from the United States, so I'd argue Business Class travel is warranted. You've got look critically at the messages they send, starting with the interview.

Coach from The United States, making your own way from the hotel to a Holiday Inn, maybe paying for your own meals; well, don't expect much from them even if an offer were put on the table. You've sent clear message of your own estimation of your value. Not high. And look at this another way - would you really give good interview under such circumstances? I suspect not. You need to set yourself up to succeed, to get the offer.

To get the offer you've got to prepare, and a key part of preparing for that interview will be the trip over.

Finally, keep in mind whatever the total cost for this interview, regardless of Economy or Business Class, Four Seasons or Holiday Inn, it will be relatively small compared to the total price of legally relocating to Europe for employment purposes. And regardless, much of (perhaps all?) of the costs incurred during the interview process will be deductible for the firm in question.

So again, don't sell yourself short. Don't be afraid to ask for top notch treatment. This is a negotiation. If they withdraw the job simply because you require a specific class of travel to present yourself in the best possible light, there is a clear misalignment between their expectations and the reality of international business.

If this comes to fruition and you need some specifics regarding Americans living and working abroad (e.g., tax issues, pension, etc) don't hesitate to MeMail me.

Best of luck!
posted by Mutant at 9:55 AM on September 13, 2008 [2 favorites]

What field are you in? You're getting a lot of advice here from bankers. Their lives are different from those of employees in many other industries. If you can tell us what field you're in, that will all us to give you more specific advice.
posted by decathecting at 11:54 AM on September 13, 2008

Response by poster: Hi all-

Thank you so much for all of the excellent input. I agree with the more assertive suggestions from Mutant - and as such, moved forward in that direction. I suggested a phone conversation first, before either of us commit to their travel expense, or me taking the time to fly out.

I am in the business field, so asking for top notch treatment is expected. Depending on the industry, that may or may not be acceptable - but in this case I think the approach and advice is dead on. It will also set the stage for future treatment/expectations - which would remain this high.

I will keep you all posted, and thanks again Mutant!
posted by jazzybelle at 3:54 PM on September 15, 2008

« Older Birtday idea for mother turning 60?   |   Can you use an AASP to fufil an AppleCare service? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.