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Are you willing to relocate?

Interviewers ask this question, especially if you currently live far from the new potential job, such as in a different city or state. Sometimes they ask it if you live a long commute away even in the same city. In those cases the answer is obvious – you wouldn’t interview at a job in another state if you weren’t willing to relocate. But, they may have other offices and want to know if relocation is a possibility if needed.

The first element to this is to have already decided whether or not you’re willing to relocate. If you say yes when you’re really not willing, you’ll find yourself out of a job in a short time. You can categorize your desire into a number of levels of willing or not willing to travel, and express the answer accordingly.

Location restrictions can be as simple as setting a maximum commute time or mileage for a company with many branches in the same city. “I want to stay in the city, but I’m willing to commute up to 30 miles.” That closes the possibility of far away branches, but leaves open the possibility of working at a few branches around the city. Your range might be larger – “I can handle up to 100 miles, even if I have to stay in a hotel but can return home on the weekends.” A larger range is better, but make sure you’re really willing to travel that far. Some people commute daily from city to city on a train or even by airplane.

Another restriction you can place on relocation is financial. Maybe you aren’t willing to relocate for one position, but are for another that pays more. “I can’t relocate for a position like this one, it just doesn’t pay enough, but if a promotion is possible down the line, I’d relocate.” Or, maybe you can relocate with a little financial help – “If the company pays relocation costs, then yes, I can relocate out of the city.”

You can say no for now, but leave the possibility open for the future. Express this answer in general terms.

“Relocation isn’t an option now, but who knows what the future brings.”

If you’re completely open, make it known in direct terms. But be sure you can really do it.

“I’ll work wherever the job is. So if a move is needed, let me know.”

This answer, given at a recent interview, could have come from a politician. “I’m not able to relocate, but I’m willing.”

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