How to Answer “Are You Willing to Relocate for Work?”

Your answer can make or break your chances of getting the job.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

How to answer "Are you willing to relate for work?"

Going in for a job interview is stressful enough on its own, even when you only have to answer common questions like “Why do you want to work for us?” and “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”. But sometimes, hiring managers will crank up the difficulty level on some questions, leaving candidates squirming in their seat.

“Are you willing to relocate for work?” can be tricky to answer — especially when the job description mentioned nothing about potentially packing up and moving away. So, why do interviewers ask this question, and how can you best answer it? Let’s talk about it!

Why employers ask “Are you willing to relocate?”

Asking if you would be willing to relocate allows hiring managers to assess your enthusiasm for the role, as well as how committed you are to your profession. A candidate that’s in it for the long run is likelier to (at the very least) seriously consider the possibility of moving away for work; on the other hand, someone less invested wouldn’t.

If the role does require you to relocate eventually, or to spend significant periods of time away from home, your answer will determine whether you are practically suitable for this position.

How to answer “Are you willing to relocate?”

Though this isn’t one of the most common interview questions, you could still encounter it as the hiring manager gauges whether you’d make a good fit for the company. To demonstrate that, indeed, you would make a great fit, do the following:

1. Consider the question prior to your interview

You can’t predict the exact questions that might crop up during the hiring process. However, it’s a good idea to read through both common and uncommon interview questions (including this one) and have a think about what your answers would be.

Is relocating something you’re genuinely up for? Do you have any commitments or responsibilities, such as taking care of a loved one, that prevent you from relocating? You’ll need to know these things to structure your answer effectively and explain your reasoning.

2. Be honest

Whether you’re talking about your previous experiences, professional accomplishments or willingness to relocate, being honest is the best (and only) policy in a job interview. After all, what would be the point in getting hired for a fake persona you’ve put on and not for who you are? Sooner or later, the truth reveals itself — especially in a situation where you’re expected to pack your bags and go!

Although you may be worried that saying “no” can cost you the job, it’s unlikely that this will happen if you keep your answer positive and explain your reasons.

3. Keep your answer positive (even if it’s a “no”)

Saying “I would never move under any circumstances” isn’t the same as saying “I have some personal obligations keeping me here, but I expect to have more flexibility next year”.

Job interviews are largely a diplomatic affair; they involve being as truthful as possible without coming across as negative. As long as you can convey your commitment to the role and company and back up what you’re saying with a valid argument, the interviewer will appreciate your answer.

4. Briefly explain your reasoning

Though behavioral job interview questions can easily be structured using the STAR method (or a similar one), general questions like this one require you to strike a balance: providing a clear answer without oversharing.

Though you may feel the need to overexplain yourself (especially if your answer is in the negative), there really is no need to do so. The more concise your answer, the better, as this can demonstrate confidence and self-awareness.

5. Mind your body language

It’s possible for your mouth to say one thing and your stance to say another. Generally, in job interviews, try to avoid crossing your legs or arms, as this can send a signal that you’re uncomfortable, displeased or closed off.

Instead, try sitting with your back straight, maintaining eye contact and occasionally smiling (when the context of the conversation allows for it).

If your answer to the interview question is “Yes, I would” or “I likely would”, but you’re sitting with your arms crossed, your head tilted down, and avoiding eye contact, the hiring manager is going to perceive it as a “no”.

Example answers

The following three examples can help you format your answer in an effective manner so you can convey professionalism regardless of your circumstances.

When you’re happy to relocate

Yes, I would be willing to relocate, because I believe that taking up this role would be a significant step towards my career progression, and I’m very excited to be presented with an opportunity to work for XYZ Motors.

I have always viewed traveling and experiencing new places as a great way to grow on a personal level, too, so relocating is something I am up for.

When you would consider it

Moving away from family, friends and the city I call home would not be an easy decision to make. That’s certain! The primary reason being my parents, who, like all parents, are ageing — and spending time with them is valuable to me.

I would therefore prefer to work for the California branch remotely, if possible, but if this cannot be arranged, I will definitely consider relocating for this role.

When you definitely wouldn’t relocate

Although I’m passionate about this role and joining ABC Insurance, I cannot commit to relocating at this time due to family obligations.

Relocating in the future is still of interest to me, but in the meantime. I would prefer to work remotely and travel to New York occasionally if that is a possibility that you are willing to consider.

Mistakes to avoid

We’ve talked about the dos of answering this question. Now, let’s look at some of the don’ts:

1. Being absolute

Saying a confident “yes” or “no” isn’t a problem here; it’s the way you do it that could get you into trouble. As we’ve seen, your answer to this question can reveal a lot about your adaptability, enthusiasm and commitment — as such, you want to demonstrate flexibility and professionalism.

2. Bringing up money right away

It may be tempting to talk about remuneration and relocation costs when this question comes up, especially if the cost of living in your potential new home is higher than in your current area. However, this is a discussion for another time!

3. Answering untruthfully

Saying “yes” when you really mean “no” can backfire down the line. If relocating is vital to your job, then you’ll just reveal yourself as an unsuitable fit for the role after you’ve been hired… Which is extremely unprofessional and bound to come with repercussions.

Key takeaways

Besides asking you to talk about your skills and experiences, your ideal work environment and long-term career goals, the hiring manager may also want to hear about your willingness to relocate for the role in the interview. When talking about this, remember:

  • This question reveals what sacrifices you’re willing to make for your chosen career path, plus how serious you are about joining your prospective employer’s company.
  • Employers expect to see a varied skill set. Transparency, adaptability and reliability are all soft skills you can demonstrate by answering this question effectively.
  • Hiring managers don’t only want to see if you’d make a great fit for the position you’re applying for, but also for the company as a whole.

Have you ever relocated for work before? Is it something you’d be willing to do (again)? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Originally published on June 21, 2017.