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I've been searching for a new job as a software developer in the last few weeks and have noticed that in every single one of the interviews there's a pattern.

First, there's a "get to know you" interview with a HR representative, where I'm asked things like who do I live with, what do I expect of the position I'm being interviewed for, which were my past professional experiences and things like that.

After this interview with HR, there will most likely be a techinical interview.

The problem is that I'm searching for a job in a specific part of town. To get there, I have to leave earlier (and lose almost the whole afternoon) and come in later (and lost most of the morning), since my current company is kinda far from where I'm interviewing and I need to use public transportation.

So, would it be unprofessional, impolite or come off as if I didn't want the job that much if I ask if there really is a need for an in-person interview or if we could use the phone or skype?

Edit: I work as a web developer in Brazil.

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    "I'm asked things like who do I live with" - Are you really asked this in interviews? In the US, this is a completely irrelevant and inappropriate question to ask in a job interview. – alroc Jul 18 '16 at 12:23
  • @alroc yes, and I find it quite absurd. Here where I live (Brazil) most HR people are clueless about what to do in interviews. If there's a thing I'm 100% SURE I'll be asked is where and with who do I live, – undefined Jul 18 '16 at 12:34
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    @GustavoMP so refuse to answer the question (politely). "I don't believe that my living arrangements are pertinent to my job application." – alroc Jul 18 '16 at 12:36
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    @alroc I'm afraid I would risk not getting any job at all by doing that. Like I said, every company asks that. Must be something cultural. Anyway, I don't really care about answering. I'm just annoyed to lose half of a work day to answer dumb questions in a 10 minutes interview that could very well be answered through phone. – undefined Jul 18 '16 at 12:37
  • I think if you have video capability so the folks interviewing you can see your expressions, it would be a lot easier to arrange. Phone interviews are enough for the basics, but I don't think I would be serious about a job candidate until I've actually interacted with them "face to face". I can't tell over a phone whether the candidate is looking up the answer to my questions, or whether they seem genuinely interested in the job. – ColleenV Jul 18 '16 at 12:52
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Would it be rude to ask for a phone interview instead of an in-person interview?

Yes. Rude and presumptuous. Like it or not, there's a power disparity when it comes to hiring which means that the hiring manager or HR get to dictate how their process moves. If they skip phone screens and want to jump straight to an in-person interview then you can't really ask them to change the fundamentals of their process. There are many reasons for doing interviews in person and a lot of them are reasonable. It's also not the company's concern that you are inconvenienced by being far away from their location, that's part and parcel of applying for positions that would require relocating or dealing with a long commute.

Now you can ask to do a phone screen in addition to and before the in-person interview. Phone screens are also common for a good reason and it's reasonable to ask to speak to the hiring manager or HR before taking time off work to attend an interview. That's entirely reasonable to ask and people with experience in hiring will generally be willing to do so. Discussing the benefits of phone screens would take this post too far but suffice to say that their main goal is to save time for all parties involved. A quick phone call can quickly identify deal-breakers that would invalidate an application.

Say or write something like:

Thank you for inviting me to interview. Since I'd like to avoid wasting your time I was wondering if it would be possible to arrange a quick phone call to discuss the position and [pick one or more of]:

  • get aligned on the type of profile that you're looking for
  • see if I could be a good fit for your culture
  • get an idea of the salary range [can come across as aggressive to bring up early but if you're spoilt for choice and especially if they contacted you this is fine to ask]
  • ...

Note that this avoids mentioning anything about the inconvenience to you because that's really not the company's concern. Good hiring managers will always try to accommodate candidates, especially in high-demand sectors, but the reality of job interviews is that they will always take a chunk out of a regular work day.

  • +1 for phrasing the request in a way that highlights the benefits to the other party – thelem Jul 18 '16 at 15:07
  • Thanks for the answer. I hope that by doing what you suggest I can avoid some issues I had in the past, like people plain lying about what they were willing to pay. – undefined Jul 18 '16 at 16:08
  • @GustavoMP I can't speak to the situation in Brazil but no reputable company should ever be lying about their salary range. Off course you'll fall somewhere on that salary range. Plenty of people hear X-Y and only remember Y. – Lilienthal Jul 18 '16 at 18:21
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    Unless the OP changed their post with regards to the first interview generally only being with HR, I have to disagree with the presumption that asking for an initial phone interview is rude and/or presumptuous. If you have a job then I've never run into a company that wasn't understanding that it is a hardship to get out of work for an interview and an initial phone screen is a reasonable accommodation. Most even suggest it after finding out I'm currently employed. However, if they are still interested after the phone screen then declining an in-person interview is another matter entirely. – Dunk Jul 19 '16 at 22:20
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    @Lilienthal - I think we agree. Just a different definition in our terminology. I read the OP's post and interpreted their use of "interview" as the phone screening because they specifically said 10 minute talk with HR. The way your post was originally worded, I thought you didn't even think a phone screen for that was acceptable. But I think you interpreted "interview" as the actual "interview". I don't know why anyone would try and get out of that unless it is a short term job, after all, you don't want to accept a job and show up and absolutely hate the place for whatever reason. – Dunk Jul 22 '16 at 16:16
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One thing I have learned over the years is that you can ask for anything, as long as you are willing the accept the result. In this case HR may be fine with the request and give you a phone interview, however they also may decide that you are already making demands and being difficult so why should they bother to continue the interview process.

You don't mention where you are or what job you are interviewing for. If you are in a high demand low supply industry you may be more successful in putting restrictions on the interview. Good luck.

  • If asking for an initial phone screen in lieu of taking off from work is considered "being difficult" then I certainly wouldn't want to work for that company. A company like that would probably consider asking for your paycheck that they are 2 weeks late depositing as being difficult. Of course if you "demand" the phone interview in a demanding way then you probably are a difficult person. However, a simple I'm currently employed and don't have much leave time remaining, could we please do an initial phone screen before an in-person visit just to be sure you are interested should be fine. – Dunk Jul 19 '16 at 22:29
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I'll try to make this short.

I'm a medical professional in the USA. I've had many interviews via phone and video. Technology today is best suited for this exact thing. My CV speaks for itself, so when I get an interview and I am not in the same state, they do the phone screening interview first. Followed up by a video interview. Then, at that point if they really want me, THEY will fly me to them for the in-person interview. When that happens, they pay for the flight, hotel, car rental, etc. In other words, if they want you, they should have no problem in covering the costs of getting you there to meet face-to-face. This is obviously more suited for either high paying jobs or high in-demand jobs. One person here mention something and they are correct: "Good hiring managers will always try to accommodate candidates, especially in high-demand sectors."

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You should phrase your response more towards "asking" in the sense of inquiring, rather than requesting. English uses the same word of "asking" for both, which makes it more difficult to make this distinction, but many other languages have separate words, such as the Spanish preguntar and pedir respectively.

Ask something like "How flexible are you as far as in-person versus phone interviews?" Your goal should be to come across as trying to find out what the company's needs are (they really feel like an in-person interview is crucial versus they don't really care and are just offering it as a default), rather than trying to get them to accommodate yours.

  • According to the dictionary, requesting is "an act of asking politely or formally for something". So, no difference at all. – undefined Jun 21 at 12:22
  • @undefined That's like saying "According the dictionary, 'set' was an Egyptian god. So there's no difference between a collection of items and an Egyptian god". I find your comment obtuse to the point of rudeness. – Acccumulation Jun 21 at 14:41
  • @Accumulation I find no difference at all between "I'd like to ask for a phone interview" and "I'd like to request a phone interview". – undefined Jun 21 at 14:47
  • @undefined Yes, the word "ask" overlaps with the word "request". I think I made this quite clear in my answer, and your insistence in asserting something that I clearly stated in my answer is baffling. The distinction I am making is not between "ask" and "request", but between "inquire" and "request". – Acccumulation Jun 21 at 14:54

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