did I mess up my job search by starting it too early, including stack ranking on a resume, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. Did I mess up my job search by starting it too early?

I’m worried that I’ve messed up my chances of working for a specific company by starting my job search too early. A little background: I’m in a graduate program that tends to have high employability and am due to graduate in August. I would really like to have a position lined up by graduation.

I started inquiring at a company that I really like that has several locations that they are hiring at in my area. I got an interview and some interest from them, but the position that they are currently interviewing me for would be an hour commute, which is more than I’d like to drive twice a day. They have locations that are closer to me that I’d be more interested in, but those locations have not contacted me as of yet (and I’m afraid that the recruiter I’m currently talking with at the far away location has told the other locations that I’m already interviewing with the far away location).

I don’t know how to fix this. I’d really like to work for the company, but I really don’t want such a long commute. They want me to let them know my level of interest before they give me an offer, but are pushing for a decision in the next couple of days.

I’m panicking. I feel like it’s too soon for me to make a decision, I’ve barely begun my search, and things are just happening so fast! Can I try to buy more time? Should I just say no to the far away job and give up on the company? I don’t know what to do. Clearly, I don’t have much experience in the job search. I wanted to feel empowered by starting early, but instead I just feel pressured and guilty.

If you’re sure you don’t want that commute, I’d be straightforward about it. You could say something like, “I’d really love to work for Teapots Inc. but this particular location would be a longer commute than I feel comfortable committing to in the long-term. Would you be open to considering me for a position at your X or Y locations instead? Or even just leaving the door open to that down the road if the timing isn’t right now?”

I imagine that you’re a little freaked out about turning down this job and then not getting any other offers by August, or at least not any others that you want. But you’re in a field with high employability and you got an offer soon after you started looking, so it’s unlikely that you’ll end up in that boat. I mean, it’s possible, so you want to weigh that in your thinking, but it doesn’t sound likely, from what you’ve said here. Regardless, the language above is a very reasonable thing to say and won’t the burn the bridge with them or anything like that. People will understand not wanting an hour-long commute.

2. College student being flown in for an interview

I am a college student who will be graduating this month. I attend school in Pennsylvania and have been communicating with a company based in Arizona. To keep it short, the company is going to fly me down to view their corporate headquarters, after expressing interest in me joining their team. I will be flying down on a Tuesday and coming back late Thursday. This is my first time flying, and was wondering if it would be appropriate to ask if they could try for a non-stop flight? Also due to the distance and major move if I accept, would it be appropriate to see if I could fly out on Friday, rather than Thursday, to get a feel for the place and look for an apartment? I would pay for the extra night in the hotel.

Would it also be appropriate to ask if the meetings and interviews already include discussing housing possibilities?

You absolutely can ask them to push the return flight back a day and say that you’d like to use the extra day to get a better feel for the area. That’s a very normal thing to do, and they won’t think it’s odd. (But I wouldn’t say “to look for an apartment,” since that will seem like jumping the gun since you don’t have an offer yet.)

I wouldn’t ask if the interview will include housing discussion. If it will, they’ll bring up, and if it won’t, that’s because they figure it’s premature when they haven’t decided to make you an offer yet. (And it might not be something they involve themselves in at all, even once an offer is made. While some employers do offer suggestions to people who are moving to the area, it’s pretty common for them not to.)

Because they’re paying for the flight, I wouldn’t request a non-stop flight. They may get you one anyway since they know people prefer them, but if they weren’t planning to, it would likely be because of cost (non-stops often cost more), and you don’t want to ask them to spend more when they’re already covering your travel and hotel. Good luck!

3. Should I include my stack ranking on my resume?

I work for a company that stack rates its employees during performance reviews. Is it weird to include my stack ranked information in my resume? Does it matter if it’s a decent rating (performance rating was in the top quartile) or a very, very good rating (performance rating in the top 5%)? How do you phrase this?

I’m torn between thinking this just context-less info and thinking this is a helpful way to show potential employers I’m a high-performer. What do you think?

I wouldn’t include top 25%, but I’d include top 5%. I’d word it this way: “performance ranked in top 5% of company.” And if it’s a large company, I’d give that context — ““performance ranked in top 5% of 7,000-person company.”

4. Resigning when my company is likely to tell me to leave right away

I am planning to leave my company soon to move closer to family in another state. At my current company, i am the only person trained in certain duties, so I would like to give as much notice as possible. However, this company has a history of firing employees as soon as they give notice, and I don’t want to risk losing any pay. Any suggestions on how to handle this?

If they routinely walk people out the door as soon as they give notice, they’ve forfeited the right to real notice. Assume they’ll tell you to leave as soon as you resign, and time your notice accordingly.

That sucks for them that you’re the only person trained in certain responsibilities, but that’s one of many reasons why companies shouldn’t punish people who give a professional amount of notice. You shouldn’t have to risk several weeks of income; this is their problem to handle.

Of course, all of this assumes that when they have resigning employees leave immediately, they’re not paying them for their remaining notice period (which is something many companies do). Make sure that’s the case, since if they are paying people for that time, this is all moot.

{ 81 comments… read them below }

  1. Engineer Girl*

    #2 – It may be nearly impossible to get a non-stop flight depending on where you live and where the nearest airport is. Many corporations have agreements with certain preferred airlines so they are likely to use them even if it is inconvenient. Non-stop flights are often reserved for very long distance hauls (8+ hours in the air).
    Asking the company for an extra day or two to investigate the area is actually a good thing. Companies prefer that candidates come in with eyes wide open. Pennsylvania is sufficiently different from Arizona that it would be a good thing to see the differences. Just tell the recruiter that you’d like to add on a day or two (on your dime) to check out the area since you’ve never been there before.

    1. Emily K*

      My company actually requires us to take nonstop flights whenever possible because we have a carbon policy and nonstops have a smaller carbon footprint!

      1. Engineer Girl*

        This differs by company. I don’t think I explained my original point well. In many places non-stops from point A to point B just don’t exist. You have to switch planes. I know that this was true of my home town to where I currently live. The only way to get a non-stop was to drive 50 miles north to the bigger airport. The inconvenience wasn’t worth it after the parking fees, travel time, etc.

    2. Katherine Teapot*

      If you have a transfer, if you tell the flight crew or gate crew that this is your first time flying and you need help with navigating the airport so as to not miss your next flight they will either point you in the correct direction themselves or get another crew member to help you.

      However, keep in mind that airports are designed for people to be able to use them who have never been in them before, so there’s lots of signage, so if your vision is pretty decent and you’re quick to pick up on signs, you aren’t likely to have any issues.

    3. Rater Z*

      In 1996, *I was living in Milwaukee and applied for a job in SC. They flew me on a Sat. to SC via Atlanta. The guy, three levels above my position met me at the airport, I followed him to the hotel, then he took me on a tour of the city and I had the evening to wander around by myself. The next morning (Sunday), I met the guy two levels above me for the actual interview, then flew back to Milwaukee via Charlotte. While Ward and I were looking over the city, we had a general casual conversation about my background in the industry and my experience He told me that what caught their eye was exactly one sentence in either my resume or cover letter (I don’t remember which) which spoke volumes to how my company valued my work — I was the closer at the end of the night and he said companies put their best rate clerk to clean everything up. I didn’t know that. I started the job at almost $17 an hour. One memory I will never forget is that I flew thru Atlanta the day the 1996 Olympics there ended. It was crowded going there and also in the airport.

    4. Honeybee*

      I was about to make this comment myself. I conducted my job search from central Pennsylvania in a college town (State College), and if OP is searching from there – or essentially anywhere not driving distance to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh – her flight is probably going to have one stop. In my case, I transferred in Detroit.

      But I did ask for an additional day – I left the following afternoon. It ended up being a good thing, because they invited me back the following morning for a tour of the laboratory space that I ended up working in.

    5. stevenz*

      This isn’t correct. Airlines all use a hub and spoke system which means that all of their flights to their hubs are by definition non-stop. If you’re in PA, you are most likely to be using either Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. US Airways/American Airlines (I don’t know what they are calling themselves these days) have a big hub in Phoenix so there’s about a 95% chance there are non-stops to and from both of those cities. (But that wouldn’t be the case if you’re flying out of, say, Harrisburg or Erie.) Southwest Airlines also has a major Phoenix hub and that’s who you may end up on since they’re a low-fare airline. Of course, depending on time and fares you may end up on a connecting flight. However,

      Within an airline’s hub operation, all their flights leave from the same part of the terminal so, for example, all Southwest flights use gates 12 to 30. There will be dozens of airline personnel to ask questions, and you can even ask the flight attendants for directions on the plane before you land (there will be a terminal map in the magazine). There are also screens throughout the terminal that show flight status (late arrival/departure) and gate information. Know your flight numbers. You do not have to check in at the gate where you are connected if you have your boarding pass for that flight already, and you almost surely will. It’s totally unlikely you will have to change airlines.

      Most important advice – get to your departure airport early. Plan to walk in the door of the terminal 2 hours before your departure time. If you’re new to all this, have an experienced friend go with you to help you find your way around (and they can pick you up when you get back and save on parking!).

      I have traveled so much in my life this is all completely natural to me. It would be so interesting to see the passenger air system with fresh eyes. I kinda envy you. And I kinda don’t. It will be an experience. The worst part is getting to the airport, checking in and getting through security. After that you can take a breath and do some world-class people watching, from a bar if need be.

      PS: Security. It’s a pain. They will require you to take off your shoes, jacket, and possibly your belt and put *all* metal objects in a little bin. You will put any bags you have on the conveyor belt, including your computer. (Don’t take it if you don’t have to. That’s what ipads are for.) Take as small a suitcase as you can get away with and don’t check it. You’re only going for a couple of days and it will be hot. (Take a bathing suit and sunscreen.) You can’t have liquids, gels, toothpaste, etc in more than 3 oz. quantities and those you have to take out. Just follow the instructions. You may get a pat-down. It’s no big deal, it doesn’t imply anything, and it will be done by a person of the same gender. If they put you in handcuffs then worry. Kidding! Check the Transportation Safety Administration – TSA – website. They probably have videos of how the process works.

      Good luck and have fun. I lived in Phoenix for some years (moved from Pittsburgh) and liked it, but the desert isn’t for everybody. It’s a very different landscape from the east and it looks pretty hostile, and the heat is something else. Phoenix isn’t a very good city, but Arizona is beautiful.

      1. Batshua*

        A couple more thoughts:

        I was told on my last flight it’s now get to the airport TWO hours before your flight to ensure getting through security on time.

        Also, pack some gum or hard candy to relieve the discomfort when your ears pop.

  2. Engineer Girl*

    #3 – Stack ranking wouldn’t impress me as much as a performance bonus. Stack ranking can be pretty variable depending on the size of the group. If however, they gave you extra money then that is proof that they truly value you.

    1. Melissa B*

      Funny. For me it’d be the opposite, though that’s probably because the last two companies I’ve worked for gave “performance” bonuses to everyone in the firm. The high performers just got more percentage-wise, but even the low performers received bonuses.

    2. Nico m*

      Stack ranking wouldnt impress me, because companies stupid enough to do it are stupid enough to get it wrong.

      1. Vicki*

        This. So many articles on why stack ranking is bad.

        Also, 5% isn’t necessarily 5% of the company. It could be the division, the department… or even the group (of you have 20 people, the “top” performer is on the top 5%.)


    3. Brett*

      Bonuses can depend a lot on the size of the group too.
      My last employer only gave 2 bonuses (out of 5k+ employees) every year. Being one of two people to earn a bonus out of 5k would seem impressive.
      But the bonuses were purely metric based on cost-savings, so every year one went to one of four procurement officers and the other went to one of about a dozen project managers, and were pretty much random chance depending on which projects the POs or PMs were assigned to that year.

    4. edj3*

      Agreed–unless I also have a good understanding of how that company handled calibration and what great performance actually entails, the stacked ranking is pretty much worthless to me when I’m evaluating candidates.

      1. PatM*

        Absolutely agree! Let’s include the politics involved with calibration (specifically large organizations). Also, employees are forced ranked against a bell curve.

      2. Engineer Girl*

        Exactly. If you are B performer in with a bunch of C performers you look good. I’m not saying the OP is a B performer but stack ranking by itself doesn’t provide enough info to evaluate.

    5. BananaPants*

      It depends on the company. With very few exceptions (for a handful of extremely experienced technical employees who are at the top of the technical pay scale) only managers and executives are eligible for incentive compensation. The overwhelming majority of employees at my company can work an entire career there and will never see a bonus.

  3. Yasi*

    #2 – When they send you your e-ticket, check the fare class. It may be that for a mid-week (non-weekend dates) they are buying you a Y-class coach seat or other non-(heavily)-discounted coach seat that is easily changeable—for free or for a a minimal charge. Then you can call the airline on your own and request any changes to suit your preferences without inconveniencing the company at all. If it’s free to change or costs very little, who knows! You may find a cheap AirBNB accom option and decide to stay even longer. Not all companies book the cheap fares, and sometimes discounted fairs aren’t even availble for mid-week flights or if they book last-minute.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I wouldn’t recommend this just in case they decide to get a non refundable ticket. If they know ahead of time what you want they can accommodate you. Once they’ve bought the ticket it is too late.

      1. Joseph*

        Even ignoring the non-refundable/change fee part of the equation, calling the airline to change the ticket on your own is a *really* bad idea.

        When a company handles booking things for interviewees, they typically pay directly from their own corporate account and have it set up so that correspondence goes to them as well for billing purposes. So whoever is handling the booking (HR rep, hiring manager, admin staff) will get a “Flight Changed” email. Then they’d wonder (a) why you’re changing the itinerary and (b) why you didn’t bother to ask them directly.

        Also, it’s worth noting that it’s rare that a multi-stop flight and a non-stop flight depart and arrive at the same time, so this could snowball into other things like your car rental, hotel check-in/out, meals with the company on your arrival/departure day and so on.

    2. snuck*

      I personally would take a bit of a dim view of someone changing their ticket in this situation without chatting with me about it.

      I’m more than happy to accommodate them within reason (if Thurs tickets are half the price of Friday, and it’s an east/west coast swap then I might ask them to contribute, and I’d probably ask them to spot their extra nights of accommodation, but I’d have no issue then extending Thurs to Sunday for example). But if they just up and change a flight that *I* paid for, without talking to me? I’d not be impressed, and would wonder what other liberties and assumptions they were going to run with.

      If I’m making the effort to fly someone in then I’m fairly keen to meet them, and thus I’m keen to let them make a good decision about joining me, and willing to give them the leeway to do that. But if they are going to just turn it into a free flight I’ll be left wondering if they are interested in me, or whatever else my city has to offer them… and while I am making assumptions from this, they aren’t having and open and honest communication with me so it makes me wonder if they are hiding something (like a lack of professional, genuine interest).

  4. INTP*

    #2 – When I bought tickets for candidates, I always said something like, “I can’t make any guarantees, but do you have any preferences you would like me to consider when booking your flight?” People would share if they had a preferred place to sit, airline, time of day, etc, and we would accommodate it if there wasn’t a significant price difference. If they do ask, it would be fine to say that you prefer a non-stop flight over seats or schedule if it’s available. (Everyone knows that most people prefer direct over non-direct, but I personally would assume most people would prefer a layover over getting to the airport at 5am or sitting in a middle seat and would book the indirect flight given those choices, so I do think it’s worth sharing if they give you a chance.)

    1. INTP*

      Also, it’s fine – good actually! – to stay an extra day or two to check out the area, but you won’t know if you have the job at that point, so it won’t be the time to find an apartment. You might look like you’re jumping the gun if you say “…an extra day to look for an apartment,” so say “to check out the area” instead. And it can be a casual conversation icebreaker with your potential coworkers, or your interviewers after the formal interview is over – you can mention that you’ll be in the area an extra day and ask their favorite restaurants and things to do.

    2. Engineer Girl*

      Ooh, I just picked up on a subtle thing. Non-stop means there are no stops. Direct means that a stop is involved but you don’t switch planes. This may work equally well for the OP. They may ask you to get off the plane so that they clean it but you can leave your luggage on board and you don’t lose your seat.

  5. Cynical Lackey*

    If he us flying from Philly to Phoenix, American has hubs in both cities and plenty of nonstops. There are some options from PITY, but the timing might be awkward. If he is flying to Tuscon, out of any other city in PA nonstops are impossible.

    1. SystemsLady*

      I was going to say, I live in a larger state with similar travel availability and have to drive to a big airport 3-4x the distance away from me to even have a chance at a non-stop to an airport that isn’t *the* hub for some airport, or a big vacation destination (Las Vegas/Cancun/etc.).

      Even then, the hours on the non-stops I can get that go as far as OP would need to go are often rather restricted (one flight each way the day they run it, and not even every day). There’s a non-stop I like to take one way, but not the other, because the time never works for me going back!

      A flight from Pennsylvania to Arizona would be a long one anyway – I’d appreciate the break if the layover is sufficient, the connection is “on the way”, and I’m stopping in ATL, or another nice, big airport somewhere in the middle-ish!

      Which reminds me of another thing, because ATL is a huge Delta hub: the company might have a specific airline they prefer and can get better prices with.

  6. Dan*


    Any place worth their salt will put you on a nonstop if it is available and not orders of magnitude more expensive. Otherwise, they look cheap. Places that are willing to fly you out budget for it and can’t surge l source all of their candidates locally.

    Fwiw, I once interviewed with us airways. They made me gate check my suit, and lost if on the way home. Good thing I wasn’t flying back out the next day for another interview (I scheduled a one day gap) or I would have been PISSED. And the rule with airline travel is that you can’t complain, ever, or it will cost you the job.

    1. hayling*

      It depends on who they use to book their travel. My husband’s company used to use Orbitz for Business, and it was really hard to get decent flights.

  7. The Cosmic Avenger*

    OP#1, as Alison said, you probably have a good chance of getting another offer closed to home and to graduation, based on your description of your program. However, there’s no guarantee, so you have to weigh the commute against the small but present chance that you might have to keep applying for jobs for a short while after graduation. If your assessment is accurate, I’d say that’s a no-brainer, as it shouldn’t take you long at all, and you’re very likely to find something closer to home in short order. You should be able to afford to be picky.

  8. DCR*

    #1: did you apply for this specific location or just the company in general and this location decided to interview you?

    If you applied to this specific location and now come back with the fact that you are unwilling to deal with the commute, that would lead to a negative view of you in my mind that I would share with other locations. Not because there is anything wrong with refusing to put up with a commute like that. But your decision to apply to an office you’r actually unwilling to work at (I’m assuming the office hasn’t moved since you applied) shows a lack of forsight or consideration of the job before applying. you can have easily learned and considered the location and commute before applying.

    1. Question 1*

      Hi, first question poster here. I expressed interest in several locations closer to me, but was contacted by the farther away location due to some specific skills that I have. Basically, 2 recruiters came to talk to our class, I spoke to them after the talk mentioning my specific background, and later expressed interest in the closer locations. I was contacted by the farther location due to my more specific background and wanted to check it out, so did an interview out there (where I realized that the commute wouldn’t be sustainable for me).

    2. Honeybee*

      That’s kind of a narrow-minded view of it, though. Even if the OP had decided to apply to this location (which she didn’t as she pointed out above me), maybe she thought the job was worth the commute but after learning more about it, realized it’s not. Or maybe she thought she’d move closer to the job but changed her mind about it for whatever reason. Before I torpedoed someone’s chances of working at any of the local offices of my company I’d want to at least talk to the candidate to see what their motivations were.

  9. DCR*

    Since you hadn’t expressed interest in this location, I think you will be fine by stressing your interest in the company but explaining that this specific location doesn’t work.

    One thing to consider: are there different divisions at each of the locations? If so, are the divisions at the closer locations ones that you are equally as interested in? It would suck to turn down this often to only learn a few months later that the work at the closer locations doesn’t interest you at all

  10. ro*


    Not sure if making the connection is part of your wish for non-stop, but if it is, there are things you can do to hopefully reduce any anxiety you may be feeling about your first flight-

    -Look at the ticket they send you and make sure you have enough time to make your connecting flight. Even though this may sound crazy, make sure you have 1+ hours of time between when your flight lands and your next flight leaves. Depending on where the two gates are and if there are flight delays that time can get whittled away. It’s much better to spend extra time just sitting at the airport waiting than to be running to catch your next flight. If you’re not sure you’ll have enough time, ask your friends/family. Someone you know probably travels a lot for work and can advise you. Just ask.
    -Consider downloading travel apps on your phone such as Gate Guru to make sure you know where to go in the connecting airport.
    -Departing gates often change at the last minute. But when you are on the plane, you can see if the flight attendant has any connecting gate info. and then take a look at the airport’s map (either print one from home before the trip or look at the maps in the literature in the airline seat pocket in front of you) so you know where to go. FYI- The flight attendants will be very busy in the beginning of the flight so wait to ask them once they’ve completed beverage service. If you tell them you are a college student, taking your first flight for a job interview, I’m sure they’ll help you if they are able.
    -No matter what, always double-check the number for your departing gate on the big arrivals/departures board in the airport therminal.
    -Try to avoid checking a bag and carryon instead.

    Good luck!

    1. MK*

      Eh, aren’t these things handled by the airline in the U.S.? If you book a single ticket that has a stop-over (as opposed to 2 different flights to get where you want to go), the company tries really hard to make sure you don’t miss the connection. To begin with, they won’t even book the ticket if there isn’t at least 1 hour time between flights, and in some airports they have a display board, directly by the exit when you disembark, showing the connecting flights of all people on that plane, or have a flight attendant give the information to specific passengers, when the time window is small. When the time is running really close, e.g. if the first flight is slightly delayed, they usually sent someone to escort you to the gate, sometimes even letting you disembark first (there was a time when I arrived only ten minutes before my connecting flight, and they sent a special shuttle to get me directly from one plane to the other); in these cases, when the delay is their fault the connecting flight might even be delayed for a few minutes. And even with people who arrive at the stop-over airport with plenty of time and simply get distracted at duty-free, they will call their names repeatedly on the speakers before giving up and closing the gate.

      And it’s not because they are that dedicated to get you to your destination. It’s because you only check-in once at the beginning of your journey, and your luggage is automatically loaded into the connecting flight plane. If your don’t board the connecting flight, they will have to unload it (they can’t carry luggage without the corresponding passenger anymore, due to security concerns), and that takes ages, which means the connecting flight will be delayed anyway.

      1. Noah*

        I work in the airline industry. There are minimum connection times, but everything has to go perfectly for you to make your connection. Also, luggage can travel without you on domestic flights, only international flights require psotivr bag match.

        1. MK*

          That’s in the U.S.? Because I live in the EU and a couple of years ago I spent a lovely afternoon, first waiting in a small plane for almost half an hour, while 2 passengers who hadn’t showed up were called, then disembarking on the tarmack and waiting while all the luggage was unload, then identifying my own and having it verified by the tags, waiting while all the other passengers did the same, then embarking again and waiting till the orphan luggage was carried off somewhere and the rest reloaded on the plane, before we finally took off two hours late. And this was for a domestic 35-minute flight.

          1. Engineer Girl*

            EU has way stronger protections for the passenger. WAY stronger protections. The only time I’ve been escorted was in Paris. I remember a flight in Dallas where they left 10 of us on the ground including the FA that was transferring to that flight. American wanted their in-time departure statistics to be nice. I didn’t get home until hours later. Unlike the EU you don’t get any food vouchers etc.

          2. Noah*

            Yes, in the US. The only time we remove bags is if a passenger is removed from the flight for a security issue. Otherwise if you miss your flights your bags are likely going on without you.

            1. Christopher Tracy (formerly Doriana Gray)*

              Yup, this happened to me two years ago with Delta coming back from LA. I had a connecting flight in Atlanta (seriously unhelpful airport, by the way), we were over an hour delayed leaving LAX, and by the time I got to my gate in ATL, there was only four minutes to take off and they had given my seat to someone on standby. Luckily, some guy was getting off first class, so I got to take his seat. My luggage, however, had to take a later flight, and Delta ended up delivering it to my apartment the next day. The following year when I went to Vegas, I made sure not to check a bag, and I’m not checking one when I fly back out to Vegas in a couple weeks.

      2. Artemesia*

        There are all sorts of legal connections for way under an hour booked by major airlines every single day; yes they have to get you there but if flights are booked up, it may be a lot later than the next flight.

      3. Aardvark*

        Maybe it’s an airline-by-airline policy, or varies based on the airport size? I had a flight over Christmas that had a 52 minute window. Luckily it was at a smallish airport so I was able to walk off one plane and onto the other.

        1. Engineer Girl*

          45 minutes is usual for most airports. Each airline and airport has a minimum connection time. You can find it out by contacting the airline.

      4. Jen*

        This is true, sometimes. Minimum domestic connection time is I believe 45 min but may be 30. If a ticket is booked on an app like Kayak vs the airline directly, you get short connection times.

        Also, depending on the airport and the connection, 30 minutes is not enough. If you are seated in the back of plane A, by the time you deplane, run/bus/shuttle across the airport (looking at you, Newark!), you may not make it before the gate to plane B closes. And often, plane B will wait for passengers, especially if there are many of them (southwest is great about this) but many airlines do not wait and just rebook you on the next flight.

      5. Honeybee*

        “To begin with, they won’t even book the ticket if there isn’t at least 1 hour time between flights” – Oh, that’s not true at all. I just booked flights from Seattle to New York, and the shortest layover I saw was 30 minutes. There were plenty of 45 minute layovers, and I ended up buying an itinerary with a 45 minute layover (but at Hobby, an airport that I’m a bit familiar with and is kind of small, so I took a chance).

        And I have never been escorted to my connecting flight due to a delayed plane, nor have I ever heard of a plane getting delayed because one connecting flight came in late – unless the connecting flight was on the same plane as the one that came in late.

        But now that I look down, I realize you’re in the EU and I’m in the U.S. Yeah, U.S. airlines don’t really care, and if you miss the flight through some fault of their own, the “nicest” they’ll be is booking you on whatever the next flight is with space without charging you.

      6. mander*

        I’ve never had them escort me but I have had them send the little golf cart thing over when I was traveling with my mobility impaired aunt and our flight was late coming in, and they have held a flight for a few minutes for me when my connection was late. If it was going to be a long delay for everyone else I’d try to tell them not to bother. (But this is why I always carry everything valuable or that I can’t stand to lose in my carry-on, as well as a change of shirt/socks/underwear).

    2. Engineer Girl*

      Other important info:
      Most domestic flights board 30 minutes prior to flight time. Your boarding pass will have a boarding time and a flight time. Don’t confuse the two!
      There are multiple cities with the same name. Use the city for quick look up but verify that it is the same flight number as your boarding pass.
      Your flight has an alphanumeric confirmation number that is unique to you and your ticket. The airlines uses this number to track you. Once you receive this number you can go online to the airline website and reserve your seat ahead of time (usually). Do this to avoid the dreaded middle seat. Exception is Southwest. At 24 hours from your flight you can go online and get your boarding pass. If you are going carry on only you print out your boarding pass and go straight to the gate. No need to check in at the desk. If you don’t print your boarding pass you’ll need to check in at the desk and get your boarding pass.

    3. Lindsay J*


      Every airport has a minimum connection time. These are usually around 45 minutes, but can be less or more depending on how big the airport is. The airline should not sell a ticket with less than the minimum connection time.

      Now, as Noah mentioned, the minimum connection time doesn’t guarantee that you will make the flight.

      If your first flight is delayed, it might be more difficult to make the second one. However, if that happens. A. The airline will try to help you as much as they can to make the connection (give you updated gate information on the plane, have people waiting when you get off the plane to quickly direct you, etc.) B, if you miss the flight due to the connecting flight being late (and it’s booked on one ticket, which it should be) then the airline is obligated to get you to your destination sooner or later.

      And, if you do happen to miss your flight due to delays, then, well, the company is the one who booked the flight and they can’t really blame you.

      If you download the app for the airline you’re flying on, they will sometimes be updated with gate information more quickly than even the information on the monitors at the gate (I’ve especially found this to be true for the United app).

      FWIW, generally when I’ve flown for business I’ve been asked whether I have any preferences – sometimes, for example, the choice is between a connecting flight that gets in earlier, or a non-stop flight that gets in later. Etc.

      Also, airports are designed for people to be able to navigate them pretty easily even if they’ve been there before. Some accomplish this better than other. But most have gates, terminals, etc, with good, easy to read signage, and many have airport representatives available to direct you where you need to go as well.

      I would not change the ticket from what the company books for you. If they book a connecting flight with a short connection and you miss it, then it’s on them. If you start moving flights around and a flight get delayed or cancelled or whatever, then it’s on you.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        If you do miss your flight then call the travel person for the company. They’ll rebook you. If you can’t do that then phone the airline.

      2. davey1983*

        “And, if you do happen to miss your flight due to delays, then, well, the company is the one who booked the flight and they can’t really blame you.”

        They shouldn’t, but can. I once had a company (a fortune 500 company) I was interviewing with book a flight that was suppose to land only 1 hour before my interview (and they wouldn’t change it to anything earlier, I asked). My flight is delayed by a couple of hours, so I miss my first two scheduled interviews. I didn’t get the job, and when I asked for feedback they told me they were concerned about my tardiness issues as I had arrived late for the interview!

  11. Brett*

    So glad I live in a Southwest focus city. I can get non-stops cheaper than one-stops to 45 of the 86 domestic cities Southwest serves. That includes the other 14 focus cities, so every destination including the handful of internationals is at most a one-stop away.

  12. Artemesia*

    Seems obvious but always wear clothes on the plane you can interview in if you will be checking the bag. It may not be the suit you plan to actually wear, but it should be presentable in case your luggage goes astray. I used to do a fair amount of public speaking so I always wore a blazer and slacks on the plane rather than jeans and a sweatshirt or whatever. And when I worked internationally, I would always carry on the work materials and one outfit that would be appropriate for work because on a 24 hour flight, I was going to dress casually/comfortably.

    It is also best to carry on. The person who picks you up will expect someone who is ‘professional’ to hit the ground running and not have to wait for luggage. This all depends a bit on other factors but if at all possible arrive with a carry on which of course then makes the other concern about lost luggage moot.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Although if you can carry on your professional attire and you’re arranging your own transportation (rental car or taxi), then you can probably get away with wearing jeans/sweats, which for me makes a huge difference in comfort in a cramped airplane seat…but then there’s always the risk of being forced to gate check your bag. You can minimize that by paying a little extra for early boarding, since it’s usually the last to board who find the overhead bins filled by the sociopaths who bring full-sized luggage as carry on, betting that the flight crew won’t have the time or the nerve to enforce the size limits.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Or if it’s just one flight, arrange to fit everything you’re carrying on in a backpack – a standard-size backpack (not a hiking one or the like) will fit under the seat in front of you, and as long as you can do that you’re good no matter who got on first.

      2. Aardvark*

        If you carry on your interview clothes and wear jeans or sweats, practice rolling your outfit beforehand to minimize wrinkling and fit them in a small space. Most hotels have irons, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of annoyance when they don’t get hot enough, or the ironing board is too small.

      3. Honeybee*

        Or get a little weekender and pack it with a presentable outfit.

        TBH, though, for a 2-3 day interview stay you shouldn’t have to check anything. I brought a soft-sided weekender bag with some travel-sized cosmetics. It feels good to travel light!

      4. Ellie H.*

        I read a tip once to pack in an (open!) tote bag that you can fit under the seat or upright in a bin, and LOVED this advice. I’ve only done it once, for a weekend conference, but it worked great – even for four days total of “professional” clothes (incl. what I wore on the plane, but still. And also including hair dryer/straightener and hostess present!)

    2. MK*

      It’s generally a good idea, even if you have checked luggage, to have a small bag of necessities (underwear, a second shirt, contact solution, etc) to tide you over till you get your suitcase or be able to buy new stuff. But I don’t agree there is anything inherently unprofessional about checked luggage, as long as it’s within reason. I understand that arriving for a 2-day/1-night visit with a large suitcase plus the maximum allowed cabin luggage gives an odd impression. But no reasonable person should think it’s unprofessional to bring a medium-sized suitcase for a 5-day trip.

      1. Engineer Girl*

        Checked baggage is lost baggage. Most professionals do carry on only because they can afford to stand around waiting for their bags. And they really can’t afford to stand around to file lost bag reports.

        1. BananaPants*

          I learned that the hard way. After my first international business trip resulted in a 7 hour delay from my home airport to D.C., causing me to miss my international flight and being re-booked from business class to coach, the airline lost my checked bag and it arrived in Austria two days after I did (slightly damp and smelling like avgas, to boot). I wore the same clothes from Sunday until Wednesday and the only consolation was that I had dressed appropriately for work and had tucked my toiletries into my carry-on. I rinsed out my underwear and socks every night in my hotel room and was going to go shopping for clothes that night if my bag hadn’t arrived. I had to borrow safety gear from the local office.

          Now I only carry-on when flying. If my safety gear is delayed by a day or two then I can’t work until it gets there, and my employer has paid way too much money to send me somewhere to have that happen. If I have to bring all of the gear, I carry everything in a duffel rather than a rollaboard because it’s more easily “squishable” into an overhead bin. If it’s just a hard hat and safety glasses and shoes, I pack in a small rollaboard. Rolling clothing is much more efficient on space than folding. The gear bag or rollaboard goes in the overhead bin, laptop backpack (with a tiny purse inside) goes under the seat in front of me. It’s never been a problem.

      2. Artemesia*

        An ‘odd impression’ is not what you are going for when being met for an interview. Lots of people think checked baggage for a short interview trip is unprofessional or naive. I have seen experienced consultants deride newbie consultants who show up for a professional gig and have to wait around for checked luggage. If it will be a long trip or if you are not being met, it doesn’t matter.

      3. Lindsay J*

        This. I rarely check baggage (though sometimes mine winds up gate checked if I’m on some of the smaller CRJs or ERJs, or just because I’m generally the last one on board and all the overhead space is taken up). But pretty much whenever I travel I carry on my messenger bag that has toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, a change of underwear, advil, some cash stashed away, an extra ID stashed away, sometimes a change of shirt, etc) just because you never know when your bag is going to be lost or even stolen.

    3. Engineer Girl*

      I’d modify this info slightly. I wear my suit jacket, jeans, and work shoes on the plane as they are my bulkiest items.
      Carry on only is the only way to go in my opinion. Make sure your luggage actually complies with the airline size rules. Over 90% of luggage labeled “carry on” does NOT comply as the manufacturers do not include wheels and handles in their measurements. The airline absolutely do include them. A soft backpack gets way less scrutiny from the gate agent and is far less likely to get gate checked. It squishes up into places a wheelie bag could never go. If they do try to gate check you look very sad and say “This is my one and only bag with my interview suit”.
      Early boarding lessens the probability for gate checks.
      I’m also going to get on a soapbox about slip on shoes. You don’t need them. Use the shoes appropriate for the majority of your trip, not the 20 minutes you spend going through security. Give yourself an extra 10 minutes if you’re worried about tie shoes. I would say that you should arrive 2 hours ahead of time for your trip since you are a newbie and not used to security.

      1. Hillary*

        Yes yes yes. I use a soft weekender for short trips because I know it won’t be checked, even on a CRJ.

        If you haven’t flown much, it’s worth reading the TSA’s guidelines for liquids. I don’t use as much product as most of my friends, but I have trouble getting everything into a quart bag. I get shampoo and conditioner samples from my salon for short trips. Also, they don’t seem to care about gel makeup or deodorant.

        1. Ellie H.*

          Something I’ve done a couple times is pack two separate quart bags and place them in two different bags (like one in purse, one in carry on). If it’s a security line where you have to take the quart bag out I try to separate the two bins w/my coat and shoes in between or something so they look less “together.” It’s not especially rules-abiding but it’s worked a few times.

        2. blackcat*

          The new TSA rules may mean that various gels that had been fine are no longer fine, as of about a month ago.

          For me, this was chapstick (I could fit it in my liquids bag, so no big deal).

          For my friend, her peanut butter sandwich constituted a “liquid or gel” and was taken from her. She avoided jelly because she thought that might be a problem, but apparently peanut butter counted, too.

          Also, after years and years of having no problem carrying through medical liquids in a separate bag (I use a larger clear plastic bag), my last trip involved being held up for 30 minutes because of my Epi-pens. You would think they are used to people traveling with these. They really wanted me to either a) show that one was operable (uh, it’s a one time-use thing that costs $100 with insurance. No.) or b) check them (the medication is highly temperature sensitive, so it would die in the cargo hold). I had to get a supervisor’s supervisor to come over and allow me through with it.

          After the study that showed that TSA missed 95%(!!) of banned items carried through by undercover agents, they’ve gotten a lot more strict. The good news is, you are far less likely to be in a plane with a loaded gun than six months ago (I wish I was joking), but the bad news is security is taking much longer at many airports.

      2. BananaPants*

        Yes – in my experience a small duffel is much less likely to be gate checked than a borderline rollaboard because it’s more squishable in the overhead bin. I’ve been able to bring the same amount of stuff or more in a duffel and carried-on to a regional jet when the folks with rollaboards were forced to gate check!

  13. Artemesia*

    Even jeans and a blazer which is perfectly comfortable on a plane (well as much as anything is comfortable in today’s hellish coach class) but will not make you look unprofessional if you have to show up for the interview in it will work. It is one thing to be in business casual or with jeans and a jacket and comment about your lost luggage and another to be there in sweats making the same comment. People understand things happen, but the image of you in grubs won’t be entirely dismissed even if intellectually it is understood as an accident of air transport.

  14. Chameleon*

    Re #4:
    “Make sure that’s the case, since if they ARE paying people for that time, this is all moot.”

    How would one go about finding out this policy without tipping off the employer? (assuming you are not in contact with old employees)

    1. OP*

      OP here. The employee handbook specifically says they can accelerate employees’ departure date and not be on the hook for pay. I’m assuming they won’t pay me if they bothered to lay out that policy in advance.

      1. Joseph*

        Given that you’ve seen other people let go immediately AND they put in the handbook that they won’t pay you, your assumption is almost certainly true.

        One potential way to split the difference (if it works financially) might be to give a tiny bit of notice – not the full two weeks, but maybe like you tell them Wednesday that you’ve accepted a new job.

        If they’re unexpectedly reasonable and don’t immediately respond with “leave now”, then you thank them for the time there and tell them that you’d like to make Friday your last day, but you’ll make sure to work hard tomorrow and Friday you wrap up as much as you can.

        But, if they let you go immediately, then you’re only losing a couple days of pay or whatever rather than a full two weeks.

      2. snuck*

        I think I’d just give them notice Thursday afternoon and expect to leave immediately, or Friday with wrap up.

        I wouldn’t give them more notice, and if they challenge you on it then just say “I’m sorry, but I couldn’t afford to go unpaid for that length of time, and you have a policy of letting staff go immediately, so I didn’t give you more notice.”

        In the mean time I’d make very very solid efforts to make sure everything is up to date. Quickly hammer together notes on how to do any parts of your jobs that need it, including a calendar of what happens when. And square away any high risk activities with extra notes and instructions, even if it’s just an email you send yourself on next steps. Prepare an out of office email message, write a list of who you could hand stuff off…

        And then if they show you the door quickly it means you can hand over in a quick rush and go with a clear conscience.

        Another option is to talk to your future employer and say “My company has a history of letting staff go as soon as they give notice, but I’m not sure if they will do that with me and I’d rather give two weeks notice than not. If they ask me to move immediately could we move up my start date to the next working day, would that be a problem?” and a for many it wouldn’t be a particularly big one.

        1. beefy*

          Yep, this is what I did most recently. I fully expected to be shown the door immediately, having seen that happen several times prior to my departure, but apparently they liked me enough to keep me around the full two weeks. My new company was willing to accommodate either way, and also gave me generous and much-appreciated additional relocation time.

  15. Jen*

    On flights, I think the only appropriate thing to do to get a direct is let the book-er know you have flexibility on which airport to fly out of. Eg if you are in Pittsburgh flying to Pheonix, you may need a non stop but if you’d rather drive to philly to get a direct, let the person booking know.

  16. Milton Waddams*

    #2, out of curiosity, what is your field? When I was in college not that long ago, the idea that a company would even consider an out-of-state-candidate, let alone pay for anything related to interviewing or moving expenses was a fantastical pipe-dream, at least to anyone under 30, and likely to start off a “Millenials are so entitled!” rant if mentioned within hearing distance of anyone older than 30. I’d assume it means you work in tech, but most tech companies just interview remote candidates digitally… what’s the scoop?

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