Score your first Austin job interview? Welcome! We compiled some of our recruiters’ most valuable advice for Austin visitors looking to impress local employers. These tips will help you talk, drive, dress, and eat like a true Austinite.
GETTING AROUND TOWN
Which is better in rush hour: MoPac (Loop 1) or I-35? The answer is: Can you paraglide instead? There is no way around Austin traffic. We have few roads that cross Lady Bird Lake downtown and they’re all jam-packed from 6am to 8pm with fewer exceptions every day. Think you found a loophole? You’re kidding yourself. Even Waze and our best ridesharing drivers get it wrong all too often. Plus, watch out for e-scooters: They. Are. Everywhere.
Our streets have multiple names. Seriously. I-35 is about the only main thoroughfare without another name. Loop 1 (which isn’t actually a loop) is more commonly called MoPac. Highway 71 is also called Ben White Boulevard, and a portion of it is also part of Highway 290 West (which is nowhere near Highway 290 East, by the way). After RM 2222 meanders from the West, it becomes Northland Blvd., then Koenig Lane, then (surprise!) 290 East. Capital of Texas Highway is also Loop 360, U.S. 183 is also Research Blvd., and if you’re trying to get to the Capitol/UT area, you might need to take 15th Street, which isn’t actually called 15th Street but Enfield Road when exiting MoPac. For others, check out this handy guide.
And we don’t pronounce the streets the way you would. Take a look at this pronunciation guide before asking directions. If you don’t, you’ll get blank stares when asking about streets like Burnet Road (just remember the saying, “It’s BURN-it, durn it!”). On other names, when in doubt, leave the last part, like Guadalupe (Gwa-duh-LOOP) and Manchaca (MAN-shack). If you’re from the Chicago area, don’t be fooled by YOUR pronunciation of our sleepy little BBQ oasis of Elgin. It’s pronounced “L-gen” with a hard G like in “again.” And Southern Californians should know that our neighboring city of San Marcos is inexplicably pronounced “san MAR-cuss.”
AUSTIN’S WORK ETIQUETTE
Summer interview? You’re going to sweat. Along with Austin’s traffic problem is a growing parking problem. That means you may need to walk some distance to your job interview. Anytime between March and November, that also means you’re going to sweat buckets before you even arrive. It gets so hot in Austin that simply walking across the street can be the kiss of death for that fancy dress shirt or silk blouse you’re sporting. Choose your fabrics wisely, bring some deodorant and perhaps even another shirt to change into once you arrive, stay hydrated, and arrive in time to cool off before your interview.
Neckties are evil. Here’s the good news when it comes to dressing comfortably in Austin: neckties for men and nylons for women are not standard dress code. As we’ve discussed before, walk into a Houston business wearing a suit and you’ll instill confidence and respect. Walk into an Austin business wearing a suit and you’ll likely be asked—very skeptically—what you’re selling. While there are some industries like finance, oil and gas, and healthcare that embrace formal business attire, many Austin businesses do not. How will you know? Simply ask the person setting up your interview about the standard dress code. Also, ask if there’s anything special going on the day of your interview like a casual Friday that you should know about.
BBQ lovers versus vegans. Austin is a healthy, progressive town. We love our BBQ but we also respect those who embrace a plant-based lifestyle. Here’s where you can misstep, though: Do not accept an invitation to a brisket-heavy meal and then spend your time sipping tap water and noshing on nothing but pickles while judging the rest of us. If you follow a strict diet, let us know. We’re usually happy to find a more inclusive lunch spot if we know what you need ahead of time – there are plenty of great options to choose from in Austin. But if you don’t say a word until we reach the backwoods BBQ joint with not a fresh vegetable for miles around and then ask for the vegan option, you might be sent packing.