When a prospective employer asks you whether you’re willing to travel, your answer had better include the word "yes." If the employer is asking you the question, chances are there’s a significant amount of travel involved with the job - so much so that it could affect your home and personal life.
The way to answer most questions in a job interview is with enthusiasm; so really, the challenge here is not how to answer the interview question, but whether or not you’re really willing to say "yes."
Ideally, you’ll tell the employer that you’re willing to do whatever it takes to do your job well, but also that you need certain information before you can make a final decision.
Asking some questions should help you make up your mind.
1. How much time will be spent on the road?
It’s a pretty basic piece of information you need to know before making a final decision: Exactly what amount of your work week will be spent on the road? Spending one night a week away from home is far different from a job that requires 75 per cent travel.
2. How is the time on the road broken up?
If an employer tells you that you’ll be expected to be travelling 25 per cent of the time, follow that up with an inquiry into how the time is broken down. Does 25 per cent road time mean you’re away from home for four months of the year, or does it mean one or two days a week, every week of the year? There’s a huge difference between the two.
3. Are all your expenses paid?
You should also find out what expenses your employer will cover when you’re on the road. Ask:
- Whether you’ll have to drive your own car
- Whether you’ll get any bonus money or overtime for overnight trips
- How much per diem you’ll get to cover things like food and incidentals
4. Is your family on board?
Isn’t not just whether your spouse or other family members are OK with you being on the road. That’s important for family harmony, but the other thing to consider is whether you can afford to be gone that much. If you’re away from home several days of the week, that might mean you’ll need additional daycare for the kids.
If you’re a one-car family and you’re expected to drive your own car for your work, that might mean you’ll need another car or an alternate plan for getting around. When it comes to fitting an intense travel schedule into your home life, weigh the pros and cons carefully.
It is always important to be honest. There is no point saying that you can travel when you can’t because you will have to turn down it down if you receive a job offer.
If you are an entry level candidate with no commitments or family, then this is a good positive response.
- “I am able to travel extensively, and I have a lot of experience of travelling from my year studying abroad in Sweden and the gap year I took to travel the world after university.”
For more experienced candidates with a family and commitments, this would be a good response.
- “I can travel during the week, but I need my weekends in order to spend quality time with my family. Will I be required to travel on weekends? And if so how often?”
During the job interview, the answer to the question "are you willing to travel" should definitely be "yes." Don’t waste the employer’s time if you’re not willing to travel.
If the employer offers you the job, use the information you’ve gathered at the bargaining table. You might even be able to negotiate for a higher salary, for example, or more travel perks in exchange for all that time on the road.
Have you ever got a job where you were expected to travel and could not commit? What happened?
This article was originally published in May 2015.