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I got a very good offer from a company I interviewed with recently, but I will turn it down since it implies relocation to a different city, and this is something that I did not want to do from the beginnining. So why did I interview?

  • I believe that is a great company, and I wanted to get to know about it first hand
  • The company is expanding, and there is a medium-high probability that it eventually opens up an office in my city.
  • The interview was an excellent training for other positions that I'm applying for. In fact, it was my first interview in 4 years

So here is the irony: I really like the company, and I really would like to work for them. Just not where they are located now. How can I convey this message to the recruiter? From his perspective, I probably sound rather contradictory: I'm telling him how much I liked his company, but I'm not taking the job. In addition, I do not have any competing offer, and I expressed my desire of leaving my current job.

  • Did you go into the interview understanding the expectation was that they would want you to relocate? – UnhandledExcepSean Apr 13 '15 at 19:47
  • yep, they made it clear from the very start – user3120046 Apr 13 '15 at 19:53
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    You don't have to say that you never intended to take an offer. Just say that after careful consideration, you have decided to not relocate. Happens all the time. Your reasons for interviewing with them are perfectly valid. – teego1967 Apr 13 '15 at 19:53
  • Are you 100% against relocation? If they doubled the money, would you relocate? Or are you against it for personal reasons? – UnhandledExcepSean Apr 13 '15 at 19:56
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    "The company is expanding, and there is a medium-high probability that it eventually opens up an office in my city." At which point, you'll be down in HR's files as "that flaky guy who couldn't make up his mind". Not really a good position to be in if you want a job with them. – Philip Kendall Apr 13 '15 at 21:03
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In the comments, you imply that it's a family decision. So tell them that.

"I really appreciate the opportunity to apply for this position. I am extremely impressed with everything that I've heard about both the company and the position. However, after talking it over with my family, this is not the best time for us to relocate. This was not an easy decision to make, and I hope you can keep me in mind if a similar position opens in my city."

This is one of those situations where honesty really is the best policy. No need to embellish the truth - as @teego1967 says in the comments, people change their minds about relocating all the time. An additional benefit to telling the truth is that, should they call you back in several years, you won't have to try to remember what you told them.

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    "...However, after talking it over with my family..." - that is what is required in this situation - explaining that the decision isn't entirely up to you - so they can't really have any problem with you taking up their time with the interview, because you in many cases you wouldn't go into a detailed discussion about relocation unless it was very relevant. But I'd leave out extremely impressed - sounds like over-compensating a little. I think impressed is sufficient. – Vector Apr 13 '15 at 21:44
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    It might be me but as a hiring manager, I would just respond, "That is unfortunate because that job requires relocation." If the candidate changes there mind at a whim on something this directly related to the job then why wouldn't they change their mind on a lot of things once they have the job. I have specifically had people pull the interview double take on me a few times (for relocation or interview for one job but really want another) and I have never even thought about them after the sour taste they left. – blankip Apr 13 '15 at 21:55
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I appreciate the opportunity and offer, but after further consideration, I cannot relocate at this time for personal reasons. If a local position becomes available, please keep me in mind as I really do greatly like the company and what they do.

If they do come back with a "but you knew it would require relocation!!!", reply with "I did and I apologize. After further consideration, relocating at this time is not right for me or my family." Either they will accept it or they wont.

  • Maybe I'm overthinking it, but a natural response would be: "You knew the position implies relocation -- what gives?". In other words, to some extent I feel like from their perspective the interview was a waste of their time, and I would understand that they would get confused about such response (and that I told them that I really liked the company). – user3120046 Apr 13 '15 at 20:56
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Nothing contradictory about that. Tell them but say it in such a way that you leave the door open to accommodation such as remote.

Example:

"I am declining your offer and it's killing me to decline the offer because I got to know the company through the interview process and I really like what I got to know.

The reason I have to decline is because the job, as I understand it, entails me having to move to [name the city]. I don't want to move.

If you don't feel that the reason I am declining is a deal breaker and arrangements can be made to circumvent the requirement to move to [name the city], I'd be open to such arrangements - Again, I really like your company and I really appreciate the offer you extended to me :)"

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I think to keep a good relationship with this company you need to tell a small white lie. You must convey to them that your relocation issues have popped up recently. Surely a normal person that they want working for them would have been more forthcoming about this during the interview process. Meaning only someone who just found out that they would not be able to relocate would ever be taken seriously.

People can react however they want and maybe you are such a good find that no matter what you do will end up with you taking a job there. However, I would not be happy with a candidate leading us on during the interview process. I would not trust them with further communications, meaning they just wouldn't be right at our company.

So... The only way out of this is saying that something (I would be vague) personal came up and you can no longer relocate. I would then tell them that you would really still like the position and ask them if there are any alternatives. At least if there aren't you might get pushed to a pile of good candidates in your area. (Also note that the company could have 20 people better than you in your area, but none in other area)

[I really wouldn't be happy with this either as a hiring manager. However this would not set me off compared to hearing that you just can't relocate or "after I discussed this with my family" or some excuse that conveys that you already knew I would just find you a bit flaky or a waste of time.]

  • My problem with the "something came up" is that it looks fishy: I interviewed with them 4 days ago and said nothing about this event. It would look like I'm declining the offer because of any reason: I got cold feet, I did have another offer...using a more concrete explanation (relocation, which happens to be the actual reason), as suggested by the other answer, seems better to me. – user3120046 Apr 13 '15 at 22:01
  • I don't know what the hiring manager is thinking. I know how people at my company deal with this. We either believe you that something came up or you basically get blacklisted. We are instructed as hiring managers to give HR feedback when candidates lied during interview process or misrepresented themselves. Really you did both (by interviewing you were implying your ability to relocate). – blankip Apr 13 '15 at 22:05

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