accepting a job offer without ever meeting face-to-face

A reader writes:

I interviewed via phone for a position earlier this week. The interview went really well, in my opinion, and I received a note from the hiring manager that, although they are still completing the evaluation process, they are very interested in me. The manager was adamant that I let them know if I have any decision deadlines on my end. I’m very interested in the work and it seems like a great fit for my skills.

What I’m wondering about is that there is no second, in-person interview, according to the information I was given when I asked about the next steps in the process. They are planning to make an offer to one or two people in the next week. Given that accepting the position would require me to move, I would like the opportunity to see the building and meet my potential coworkers in person before accepting any sort of offer. If I were to receive an offer, would it be unreasonable to ask to visit the office prior to accepting the offer? I would be willing to fly to the city on my own dime and combine the visit with an apartment search.

It would be not only reasonable but wise. Taking a job where haven’t met your manager face-t0-face is always a risky proposition, and it’s even riskier when you’d be moving to take it.

Say something like, “I’m really interested in and excited about the position. I’ve never accepted a job sight unseen before though, and especially since I’d be moving, I’d love to get the chance for a quick face-to-face meeting before we finalize things.  I’d be glad to fly out to meet in person on a day that’s convenient for you in the next week.”

And regarding that timeline … The trick here is going to be making your visit happen really fast. If they’re like most employers, they’re not going to want to wait weeks for you to make a decision, so you’d need to hop on a plane as quickly as possible — ideally in the same week that you receive an offer.

Also, remember that this is going to be your meeting, since you requested it. That means that you’ll need to come prepared to lead the discussion — don’t look to them to set the agenda.

By the way, I have to say that I’m wary of a company that would make you a job offer after a single phone conversation (unless it’s for a short-term position, which I’m assuming it’s not since you’d be relocating). So make sure that you’re doing other due diligence on them as well — that you’re asking lots of questions of them, that you’re talking to anyone you know connected to anyone connected to them, that you’re watching for red flags, etc.

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