Just offered an interview for my dream job, but...

Hi all.

I’ve got a problem and I was wondering what other, more experienced designers, would do in my position.

I’m a recent ID graduate living in Australia. I have been lucky enough to be offered an interview for what I would describe as my dream job. The only problem is that this position is literally on the other side of the world. I applied for this job online thinking that I had something to offer this employer, obviously I didn’t want to waste their time, but didn’t hold out much hope of progressing in the application process. I had hoped that if I progressed I would be able to have an interview over Skype or other video link, but the policy of the company is for face-two-face interviews only.

I can raise the money to attend the interview however it would pretty much bankrupt me. I am torn between what seem two equally crazy alternatives. Should I spend the money and time to attend the interview, even though I might be one of an unknown number of interviewees for possibly only one position? Or should I take it as a huge compliment that my work was deemed acceptable for an interview and move on hoping that, in time, I will be able to re-establish contact with this company?

This would also be my first ever face to face ID job interview, so I do not have a full understanding of the application process.

Thank you very much for any advice that you can offer me.

Any reputable company would pay for you to attend the interview. This is standard practice. I’ve been flown to other countries for even junior positions. Have you asked if they will pay travel costs, or are you just assuming they wont? If they won’t pay, the company is either very tiny or you’re just not important enough to them. You paying for it is pretty ridiculous. I wouldn’t.

The company is very large and well respected.

I was told that due to the large number of overseas applicants they have a policy of not paying any travel expenses.

Firsly congratulations on getting an interview.

With regards to the travel it is a tough one. Head would say not a chance. Assuming it’s the a firm then they “should” be paying your costs. I too when applying after graduation for junior roles was flown out to places. I had to stump up the fair but they re-imbursed my travel. For any places which were to far away such as interview in China and Hong Kong, that was done over skype.

I too would question the company if they are un willing to stump up the funds . Is this a sneak peak into how they value you? If your flying to US or even Europe your having to relocate along way from home, they could treat you like rubbish.

However, there are lots of variables we dont know that the OP does. Obviously you cant reveal the company, thats fair enough. For argument’s sake if it was a big 5 global consultancy say Ziba, Fuse or Smart (all be it I would assume they would fly you out) but lets say it is then yes I would stump up the money, its worth it. Anything less than a stellar company I wouldn’t consider it.

Tough call, best of luck with it all!

There is no way I would pay for the travel expenses. I would ask them how interested they are in you if they don’t want to invest in flying you out.

The only possible way I would do it is if I was going to make a trip of it, 3-4 weeks and I would schedule interviews all around that area… but I think it may be a bad sign as to how they treat their people.

Forgoet about it if it’s going to cause you to go broke. Any legit firm should be paying your travel expenses. Tell them you can only do it through skype, afterall it’s the 21st Century. Then again it’s not a good sign for how they operate.

I agree with Yo,

If a company is really interested in hiring you, they will fly you out to them and they will also put you up for temporary accommodations for the interview. If they say that they have other candidates, then so be it! If they dont want to pay, it means they probably have a need for a position that most likely can be filled with other local candidates. If you are a recent graduate, and you are applying for an entry level job with a company outside of your home country, then consider that you are not just competing with your fellow graduating class… but perhaps the entire un-employed workforce of the previous three years of graduates in that country… Since you did not specify which country it was, I can only guess if you are “half way around the globe” and in any case, you will be hard pressed to go up against those previously mentioned local graduates.

On the other hand, if you are very thorough with you scheduling of other interviews you could perhaps squeeze in face times with other interested agencies while you are there…even though it is out of your own pocket. At least you open up the door to other opportunities for exposure while you are visiting another country. I have personally been through a very similar experience before early on in my career, and I tried very hard to land a gig. I visited many studios while visiting this potential employer on my own dime, but in the end I was out the money spent on my own travel expenses and I had nothing to show at the end except for a few business cards. However, it may be different in your case.

Weigh it out in terms of an investment strategy. All you need to ask yourself: is this worth the risk of investing into for long term?

Good luck!

Disagree. I wouldn’t consider it ESPECIALLY if it’s a stellar company. Those guys have no excuse not to fly someone out that they really want.

Of course, if you never explicitly stated you’re in Aussie, it could be your fault.

I learned my lesson with a firm that wouldn’t fly me out to Philly (from Pittsburgh, which is like… not that expensive), after the first interview they said they really wanted a 2nd interview, but after that no matter how many emails I sent I never heard back. Jerks.

Thanks for your advice.

The firm is based in the UK but has global operations. When I applied I made it clear where I am located. At this stage all that they have seen from me is my CV, cover letter, a few emails and a very brief portfolio consisting of two projects. So from their point of view they may not really know enough to really want to foot the bill.

I feel that I’m the kind of person who would fit into this company as my skills are closely allied with their design philosophy however I know that I would be going to a country where there is a bigger oversupply of designers and that was hit harder by the GEC than here so my chances would be slim.
It would be funny to fly over and then be asked in an interview “are you committed to this position/company?”

I think the best course of action would be to contact them asking if they can give me some more info on exactly how interested they are. Something like… “asking an estimated return on my investment!”

I’d ask for a phone/webcam interview before an on site interview. UK is pretty damn expensive

Yes it certainly would be tough over here, there is an abundance of UK graduates without jobs, but dont sell yourself short you have got through to another interview.

Knowing that it is here in the UK I would most definately schedule (if possible) other interviews to make it worth while if you decide to front it yourself. Also Europe is right on the doorstep (especially france) so maybe consider widening the net slightly.

Defiantely push the telephone\skype route.

There is an equal oversupply of designers here in Aus too, so I’d say get yourself a personal loan and get over there.
Like others have suggested, use your time over there so visit and possibly interview with other companies.
If you have interest from this big firm, chances are you are good enough to generate interest in other firms.

You’re probably looking at around 4k for the trip. Is there a family member who would be willing to lend you the money?
I say it is an opportunity too good to pass up for a few grand.

I wouldn’t do it. Its one thing to be a quick drive or plane ride away, its another to be asked to pay a small fortune for a CHANCE at employment. The economy is bad and jobs are scarce so employers think they can get away with murder. They are essentially saying that you’re not worth a plane ticket which should trouble you.

Thanks for all your advice.

The last two posts above mirror the discussion I’ve been having in my head.

I’ve now emailed the firm asking for any more information that they are able to provide on the position and my candidacy. Information is power right?

You should consider this a large red flag and warning to how the company will handle it’s employees. You should NEVER fly out for an interview unless the company pays the bill. It shows lack of focus and respect for their candidates and employees. Companies that function in this manner during the interview process will more than likely treat you like crap when you’re employed from them.

The response they gave you shows poor management of their talent requisition capabilities. If they are concerned about cost they should have multiple phone interviews with you to assure themselves that you’re worth seeing face to face. Regardless of distance, they should have narrowed the pool to about 3 candidates by now. Flying out the most promising one first and then going down the list. The cost to flying you out there is considered a business expense (recruitment) and will be written off that calender year. So don’t think it’s a “huge” amount of money for them. The HR department should have budgeted correctly to have this position filled.

If they can pay to have you out there at this stage of the game, it means they’re not going to have the resources or intuition to keep you happy.

Say for the sake of argument that you did decide to pay your own way for this interview, what then? Even if they love you, odds are they will want at least one more interview before an offer comes along. So would you have to pay for that too? Now let’s say that they did offer you the position… great right? Well, not so fast. There is the teeny little issue of relocating… will they exepct that to all come out of your pocket?

I don’t think a phone or Skype interview is an unreasonable way to handle the 1st round of the process if you honestly don’t have enough in your budget to be flying in many candidates… especially if they are located in a different hemisphere.

The whole thing sounds fishy to me…

I think it’s been said but ill throw in my vote. No way. It’s standard practice for a company to fly in their interviewee. To a company, it’s well worth it to find the right candidate. And if you got the job, you should expect a relocation package. In my current job, they flew me out before I even started and put me up for a few days in a swanky hotel while I found a place to live.

One thing that does concern me about the recent recession is companies skimping on prospective employee’s because they know so many people are desperate for jobs. This could fall into that category, which would be sad.

But you have to put this in perspective. What kind of role is it? The distance to travel?

Yo: I hear what you’re saying but you work for the creme de la creme of companies - and in the USA - of course they would fly people like you to interviews.

I work in the UK and I can think of plenty of big UK companies that may not pay travel expenses. Train from another city in the UK? Of course. No bother. Budget airline flight from Holland to the UK? Probably.

Plane ticket from Australia to the UK (when they have have plenty of other applications) costing £2000? Depends on the role. Company director? Maybe. Designer? Probably not, especially if they are swamped with applications. UK-Aus plane tickets are pretty much the most expensive out there. We’re still in a recession in the UK, it is still very tough.

I worked for a couple of big famous UK companies as an employee and we had to fly economy everywhere, once our budgets were cut (before the mid nineties everyone went business class, now it’s not necessarily a given - design manager might junior designer, probably not). Designers may not be as valued in companies as you would expect. The sales guys get all the bonuses /perks IME.
And as for relocation packages - well, if we are talking the fashion industry, the big famous names in Milan don’t necessarily offer this if you are a graduate. And you get a tiny wage which is difficult to live on

It isn’t one size fits all and I reckon it is pretty different in the UK compared to the USA. (IMHO).

ETA. I wouldn’t go to the interview. Especially not unless I’d done some research into how easy it is to get working visas (even sponsored ones). There has been alot of noise about cuts in working visas issued to foreigners. Even my best friend, an Aussie, (who works in IT) had a nightmare getting hers renewed after working here for five years.

Shoenista you make some excellent points. Luckily I have British citizenship and have lived in the UK for a few years before. I certainly wouldn’t have applied for the position if this wasn’t the case. I know that I would fly Yo anywhere, but then I’m not on that level………maybe….oneday…. Just need to start somewhere!

It looks to me as if there is a bit of a disparity between how ID’ers are treated in the US compared to elsewhere, especially Australia. I am not aware of any graduates here having their travel expenses paid and I think this is defiantly the norm. Having recently had an interview for a position in another city (1500kms away) they certainly didn’t mention travel expenses for a trial.

I agree, but in that case, why even reach out to set up the interview? If you can’t afford to interview people internationally, close the loop and make it part of the filtering criteria, or say “we’d love to interview you, but our budget does not allow for us to fly people in internationally. Do let us know if you plan to be in the UK and we would be more than happy to have you sit with a hiring manager and tour our facility.” This way it leave the option open without presuming he would hock his valuables to fly over. I think that ould be more responsible.