The modern professional world is adopting remote working rapidly. Multiple large well-known multinationals have taken the “remote first” approach. This includes giants like LinkedIn, Salesforce, Twitter, Microsoft, and Coca-Cola. Infosys in India is recruiting for many remote work positions. This creates a natural expectation among freshers and those early in their careers, to have the flexibility of working from any place they desire. So, when they come across this common fresher interview question, they tend to feel a bit stressed and challenged.
This momentary tension in the candidate’s mind usually stems from their strong interest in joining the company. The job may be attractive, it may have a strong learning curve for them and the company may give them a brand name to show on their resume. All of this can help them in their future career growth. So on one end, they are trying hard to get the job. But on the other end, they deeply wish flexibility to work from anywhere they wish. So when the interviewers ask, “Are you willing to relocate?”, many candidates can find themselves confused about how to respond.
Let us logically understand how to handle this interview question.
Why interviewers ask, “Are you willing to relocate?”
Like every other interview question, before learning how to answer this one, we need to understand the motive behind it. Let us look at the main intentions behind asking this question.
Every job posting receives tens if not hundreds of applications. The interviewer wants the best candidate for the position. This is why they try to judge the nature and skills of any candidate from multiple angles.
How you respond can work in favor of you or go against you even with this seemingly simple question.
2. Job requirements
Jobs in sales, operations, or marketing tend to have travel as an inherent part of their core requirements. It can also need you to relocate.
If a candidate appears to be good for such job positions, the interviewer wants to ensure that there are no assumptions. So is the candidate willing to travel as per the job requirements, needs to be confirmed upfront.
This also gives an idea to the candidate about what is to be expected with the role on offer.
3. Candidate’s flexibility
The important thing for the freshers or those early in their careers is the ability to adjust quickly and be flexible.
Every job evolves eventually based on the needs of the company from those positions. This is because companies are constantly evolving the way they operate or do their businesses.
So, the interviewer wants to get an idea about your adaptability. They want to know the extent to which you can push yourself in order to get things done.
4. To have a feel of your desire to get the job
Your answer to this question can also show your determination and “whatever it takes” attitude to some extent.
This gives them some idea about your desire to join their company. It may help them understand how well you will perform down the line and how long will you stick to their company.
How to answer this fresher interview question?
The key in responding to this interview question is, to be and to sound, grounded and passionate at the same time.
For you to be able to convey that, use the following insights.
1. First ascertain the details of travel involved
Before jumping on to any predetermined or instinctive response to such a question, you want to be aware of the extent and type of travel involved on the job. You may be open to travel but these 2 factors can determine the level of your interest and ability to match the expectations. If it is relocation to a new city, understand the details of the same.
So first ask the interviewer for more details about the travel involved. Ask them about the routines of the current employees in that position.
2. Think about the costs involved
Traveling or relocation, both mean more expenses in general. So if the company is going to relocate you or make you travel, you want to carefully think about the extra money you are going to spend. You want to understand how those expenses will get compensated or reimbursed.
Even if you cannot talk at this point in time about salary or your remuneration, it is wise to briefly check how these expenses will be covered. You need not worry about creating a bad impression here even if you are talking about money. This is your genuine and legit concern.
3. Consider the effort and adjustments involved
Frequent traveling or relocation for the new job means many small or big adjustments. You will need to carefully think about your family, your own current life, and your routines. Many of them can get disrupted. So, you want to be certain that it is acceptable for you.
You want to also confirm the help that you will receive from the company in these things.
4. Sound genuine with a positive tone of voice and words
Being genuine here is very important to establish credibility. If you are too enthusiastic you may sound desperate or immature at times. If you are low on energy, you may create a disconnect between you and the interviewer.
So keep your voice energetic and your words positive. Talk with honesty in your response, even if your answer is a clear no.
Sample answers for “Are you willing to relocate?”
If your response is “Yes”
“I feel there is a lot to learn in this role. I like the way this is going to expose me to varied experiences on my journey of learning sales. So, I am completely open to travel and even relocation if the need arises. I have read that your company takes great care of your sales people even if the job may be hectic.”
In this response, your focus on learning, eagerness to experience what the position offers and flexibility to travel or even relocate can be endearing to the interview. You are also showcasing the extra efforts you took to research the company.
“Totally! I am a fresher right now and I do not have any responsibilities of family per say. I want to use this time to explore and experience the field of operations. If the job entails travel or if I need to relocate, I can do that happily. Looking forward to give my best in this stint and do whatever it takes.”
This answer shows your readiness to take all the efforts necessary to excel. This is a sign of passion and energy. You are making yourself totally available to the company. This can be huge for the interviewer.
If your response is “Maybe”
“Moving to Bangalore from Pune has its own benefits and challenges. My family and friends are in Pune. My expenses will be lower significantly here because I do not need to spend on rent and food. That said, the opportunity is very attractive for me. I have heard a lot about your company. Bangalore is the silicon valley of India. So working there can be hugely rewarding. So I am just gathering my thoughts. Overall, I think I am willing to relocate. However, a second opinion would be great. Can I ask you, how you may go about it, if you were in this same situation?”
Here you are showing thoroughness of your thinking. You are not amateurish in your approach. You are carefully weighing your options. You are even encouraging the interviewer to help you here. It shows that you are sincere and systematic. This can create a strong impression on the interviewer.
If your response is “No”
“This role is very interesting, however I have a few obligations which make me stay where I am right now. So the relocation looks difficult. Is there a possibility to work remotely and travel if there is a need for client visits?”
Even if you are certain about not relocating or traveling, you have created new possibilities just in case they are available. You also sound rational. You have handled the risk of sounding picky or arrogant. So, if you are a great match and if your previous questions have been handled well, the hiring company may just want to adjust a few things for you. You have kept the doors open here.
What not to do when answering this interview question related to relocation?
1. Even in the case of a clear “no” from your end, keep the possibilities open. If not for this role, maybe for some other role they may want to reach back to you.
2. Avoid negative language and tone. Avoid getting into the details of your constraints which don’t allow you to relocate or travel. Avoid getting deeper about your personal or professional agendas here.
3. You do not need to cater to your strong need to explain yourself. While you answer, if the interviewer is not trying to dig deeper, your unnecessary explanation may make you sound lame. It may create a bit of a negative impression.
4. Avoid being overtly positive. It sounds pompous or immature. You also risk yourself looking desperate for getting the job. Desperation always smells bad!
5. Do not bring the subject of salary at this point in time. This can create awkwardness in the conversation. You are still to be selected for the position.
6. Avoid being ambiguous in your response. You may sound confused. It can create doubts about your ability to analyze and think with clarity.