Even though unemployment is dropping, which suggests more job vacancies than in recent years, the competition for places is as great as ever. The benchmark for gaining entry into many jobs has increased and qualifications are often a minimum requirement.
If you successfully negotiate the application process, which is always an achievement in itself, then at some point you will probably be facing an interview. The difficult part now is that you will be up against the best candidates for the job; the greatest part of the competition.
Interviews are becoming a lengthy, competitive, almost intrusive and highly detailed part of the recruitment process and this can be a stressful experience. Few interviews can be considered plain-sailing and it's never a case of someone having to just turn up. Some people can actually be quite badly affected by the feeling of a poor interview and this can knock confidence. Most people actually have a few negative stories to tell, so it is best to try to accept that this sort of thing will happen at some point; so just move on and accept the experience.
In some cases, particularly for much sought-after jobs, companies can expect quite a lot from you. There could be a lengthy interview process of several hours which may follow on from a telephone interview, perhaps during an evening, with travel to the company's HQ, miles away from where the job is actually taking place. There could even be follow-up interviews with more senior staff after some candidates have been screened out. All of this can place a great deal of stress on you, cost money that perhaps you are not really in a position to pay out, in the hope that you get a job competing against many other candidates.
Even if you are employed and have an income, those costs may be bearable, but finding the time to prepare, travel and be interviewed can be difficult. So should you have to do all of this to get that job that you really want? Should potential employees have to be so flexible in order to get a job these days? It's not totally out of your hands; there are some things you can do to exert some control.
You have an opportunity to demonstrate some of your skills, simply be negotiating the situation towards a compromise. If there is an interview miles away from where you would be working and it is not convenient for you, ask if there is an alternative place for an interview. Could the interviewer meet you half way? The fact that you are asking will show a level of confidence that suggests you are probably work persevering with.
If the interview is still going to be a significant distance for you and you would ideally like to be paid the expense of the journey, then make an enquiry about the possibility. Yes, you want the job, but they will want the best candidate and if they have offered you an interview, you will already be someone of interest to them. It's worth asking.
If something is being expected of you that you are not comfortable with e.g. a long distance to travel for an interview, then be prepared to politely challenge it and ask questions. Could it be done via Skype, is there an alternative venue, do you have someone closer who could do the interview, "how about this other day as I'm in the area then?" By asking some questions, you could end up making the process a great deal simpler for you and less stressful, allowing you to focus on the content of the interview.
You could consider only agreeing to attend interviews and phone interviews during normal working hours, perhaps during lunch-breaks. If you already have a job, you can use your current role as a reason for requiring certain timings. You could also lay out your CV to include preferred times for certain phone numbers to be called, to ensure that an awkward situation at work does not occur.
The fact that you have been offered an interview means they are interested in you and would be just as disappointed to lose the opportunity of the interview as you would - so a compromise would be in everyone's interest.