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I am currently talking to employers for hire in 5 months. I am open to the idea of moving across the country, but not fond of it. I have expressed my insecurity of living across the country to my potential employers. My stance is between "60/40" and "70/30" leaning towards relocation. To those who have managed the hiring process- on initial interviews, does that dissuade you from pursuing that candidate further?

Edit: The relocation was Iowa to Texas.

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Short answer: yes it dissuades me from considering you, to some non-trivial extent.

I'm answering this as a hiring manager, but with a big caveat: I firmly believe in hiring the right person for the job, regardless of where they live, and not requiring relocation if the employee has any hesitation about doing so. But, depending on the company I've been with, that has not always been possible to offer, so I do also have experience with this more typical scenario.

When I have selected a short list of candidates to interview, I'm already investing time and mental energy into their candidacy. If, in the course of an interview, I learn of any hesitation on part of the candidate for anything related to the position -- duties, responsibilities, location, whatever -- there is a negative mark against that candidate. The negative mark isn't because they did anything wrong, but because it makes their candidacy less than a perfect fit. Maybe it drops from "this person would be great" to "this person would be great but here's this little nagging thing that we might have to work through -- maybe shift around some duties, make some accommodations, etc".

If there are 10 applicants, 2 are perfect, and 8 are great and have some sort of nagging thing, I am going to spend the remaining of my efforts on those first 2, first, unless there's some ultraspectacular quality to one of the people in the group of 8.

Those nagging things that cause negative marks do vary; hesitancy at performing task X would be weighed lower than hesitancy at relocation. Hesitancy at relocation -- even a little bit, let alone a 30-40% chance that you're going to ultimately have wasted everyone's time no matter how nice you probably are -- would be, to me, the biggest of the red flags in the process.

Not to pick on you by using you as an example, but I will since it's your question...if I were interviewing you, and my company didn't hire remote workers, and you expressed that you were 30-40% sure you weren't going to relocate, I would absolutely not continue spending time with your application unless you were so spectacular that anyone and everyone would be a fool not to drop everything and try to pursue you. There are precious few unique talents like this (see Free Electron). I would pursue (and have) a known Free Electron for the good of my company.

So where does that leave a prospective candidate who also wants to be honest (and honest is always a good thing, and who probably isn't a Free Electron (again, not casting judgement on you, just playing the odds)? I would suggest that until you are 90%+ sure that you would relocate to New Location, don't apply to the position. Especially don't apply to the position if you're just using it for practice -- that's wasting your time, my time, and burns any potential bridge that could've been built for future opportunities.

  • Excellent answer, thanks. The employer pressed on the issue of the relocation, describing the work area to me and trying to get an idea on my position about relocation. While the emotional part of me holds the ties that make up that 30 to 40 percent of indecision, the intellectual side of me says go for it. – Garry Jul 30 '12 at 17:54
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It plays a big part in the decision making process unless the location is really out of the way, in which case relocation doubts would be commonplace among most applicants.

When I want to fill a position, it typically means the need already exists and needs to be filled quickly. Since most applicants will require anywhere from 1 to 3 months just to leave the last job, the entire process is already so drawn out that it doesn't really require more elements of risk.

Candidates that make it to the final round are also typically in demand, which means we have a small window in which to decide before he/she takes someone else's offer. So if we take a risk on someone that has relocation doubts and it backfires, it can get ugly.

The biggest fear is that you will accept the job and send all the right signals, than turn around 2 weeks later just to say NO. Our bridges would have been burned with the previous candidates and we'd have to start all over again.

  • As I am about to become a recent graduate, I would like to consider multiple companies and offers and make the best decision I can in my first full time employment. I will not accept a job then backing out, but I imagine I will at some point need to decline offers after an extensive interview process. – Garry Jul 30 '12 at 17:56
  • @le_garry, it doesn;t matter that you would not accept a job and then renege. The hiring manager has no way to know that about you and with what you told him, you are a high risk to not accept the job if it is offered. This would absolutely kill your chances at most employers. – HLGEM Mar 6 '13 at 22:39

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