I was just contacted by a company whose offices are two minutes walk from my flat. Now let's assume that I am interested in the job and get to the interview stage. For me the location is obviously a bonus, but do they care? I don't know whether I should mention it. If they do care I would include it in the secondary motivations for the job, after presenting the primary ones, but if they don't, I wouldn't want to dilute actual reasons.

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    It could work both ways: they know you value the proximity so you will be less likely to leave, making you a more "stable" candidate. But since you value that proximity, maybe they are tempted to lower their offer since you have few possibilities of finding a similar post at a similar distance.
    – SJuan76
    May 20 '15 at 14:57
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    I will say that there can be downsides to living so close to the office - staying late often, getting called in during off-hours and weekends since you're right there, coworkers who live further away asking you to pop by and do something "simple and quick" for them, being habitually late to meetings because you think "it's just a two-minute walk..."
    – David K
    May 20 '15 at 15:26
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    Just remember that you might choose to move in the future and they might choose to move in the future. Neither side should use this as a primary evaluation or motivation factor.
    – cdkMoose
    May 20 '15 at 16:20
  • @Joe It's a small/medium sized mobile development company. May 20 '15 at 16:37
  • I remember from last time I did hiring that it's a question we can't legally ask. However, we do like having employees very close by as it helps the business. The closer the employee the less "can't get to work because of bad weather" issues there are (important here in the snowbelt). Also good to have employees nearby for emergency situations (we occasionally get emergency support requests and if you're 1.5 hours away, you're useless). So, I would definitely volunteer that information if I was close by... May 20 '15 at 16:58

I don't ask people where they live or how long their commute would be. I also don't refrain from hiring people because their commute would be too long, though I wouldn't be surprised to hear that some employers do, worrying they would eventually lose you and the investment they'd made in you. But even those employers won't distinguish between "lives two minute walk from work" and "lives within a reasonable commute distance for this culture" - say an hour of driving or public transit if you live in Toronto, presumably less in other places.

However if you want them to make that distinction, then show it to them yourself to make it a positive for you. Some examples:

  • when they ask "did you have any trouble finding our offices?" as a typical conversation opener, you give a big smile and say "oh absolutely not, we're only two minutes walk from my home here so I was already familiar with the location!"
  • when they ask "why do you want to work here?" you use the typical answers about technology and why you're a great fit for the job, and you wind up with "and I love the idea of having a two minute walk to work, that would be so great!"
  • if the conversation turns to overtime, on call, flex hours, working from home or the like, present your benefit. "I don't mind coming in for 9 because I don't have to worry about traffic, it's just a two minute walk for me." "I can stay a little late because getting home will only take me two minutes, I don't have to run to catch a train." That sort of thing.

Don't bring it up more than once or twice, but connect your lucky location to things that matter to them - your wanting the job, your availability at times when commuters may have problems being available, and so on.

  • Deft answer, emphasizing that a light touch about this could give a small (but probably not decisive) advantage at interview. May 20 '15 at 14:41
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    I know after the bullet points you said "once or twice", but whilst I was reading them I had this idea in my head of this slightly obsessed sounding candidate saying all the above :D May 20 '15 at 16:27
  • I would say having been on both sides of a long commute, that it is of some concern and warrants a question in the interview if the candidate is commuting a long way, or longer than normal for the area. Are they expecting to work from home a lot, etc. May 20 '15 at 19:34
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    You probably don't want them to think this as a benefit. Just knowing commuting is not an issue would be OK - if they're glad you live a two-minute walk away, they're fabulating about asking you to go at any time whenever they need it. After all, you're only two minutes away! May 20 '15 at 21:29
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    Beware that this could backfire if you go overboard (and ignore Kate's "once or twice"). I like to see candidates with some motivation in the position and company at hand; I've had candidates present as though they are only interested in us because of the location and that is very off-putting.
    – Ray
    May 21 '15 at 1:05

If you have two candidates who are exactly alike in every way, and act the exact same way in the interview, then they will prefer the closer candidate. However, if the closer candidate is even a little less competent or desirable in terms of skills, they will take whatever gets them the most bang for their buck regardless of how far someone lives.

I would say that living close to work is more of the employee's benefit than the employer.

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    I think that this "two candidates alike" thinking is flawed, as no two candidates are really the same. If they look same, it only means that evaluation process failed to spot the differences.
    – Agent_L
    May 20 '15 at 16:26
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    It was only a hypothetical example to prove a concept. Don't look too much into it. May 20 '15 at 16:35
  • IMHO it doesn't work even as an hypothetical. If you really want to do it, you would have to actually give an exact weight at the distance from work, add it to the other factors, and see who gets more points. Just saying "even a little less competent or desirable" doesn't make much sense.
    – o0'.
    May 21 '15 at 8:21
  • I think his point was that, while this is a consideration that could have weight, it's a very minor weight compared to other considerations.
    – jhocking
    May 21 '15 at 12:26

I went for a job as a handyman.

"Can you lay bricks?" "No"

"Can you plaster?" "No"

"Can you do any carpentry?" "No"

"Then why are you handy?"

"I only live round the corner"

(With apologies to Ronnie Corbett)

Employers don't really care about how close you live, just how far. If you have a long commute you may be late, have car trouble, call off due to bad weather etc. Being close doesn't really get bonus points.

Usually they only care if it's a perceived problem.

For example, I was interviewing 2 people for a role. One had a 30 mile commute on busy highways, the other came from the local city a few miles away. My boss (director level) urged me to discount the far away person as having an unsustainable commute (we didn't have flexible hours either). It turned out that the nearer person didn't drive, and public transport was non-existent at the business park where we worked, so actually it would have been much harder for him to sustain his commute. However the director saw the city name and assumed there would be no issue.

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    While I get your point, in some interviews I've been asked about where I lived and how I'd get to work, so at least some employers care.
    – GreenMatt
    May 20 '15 at 16:27

If I were a prospective employer, I'd take the view that an employee's commute is their own business and it's their responsibility to plan for it. Having said that, some companies do run shuttles to and from the office from various commuting endpoints. Having said that, I am more likely to be on time if I have to take transportation to an office one hour away than if all I have to do is to walk to an office 15 minutes away - that's because I am totally careless about the so-called 15 minutes walk, I do absolutely no planning, I am too comfortable flying out the door at the last possible second and I sport a hypocritical grin when I show up late and I get away with being late :)

  • +1 because I had the same experience - when I take public transportation I have to be on time at the station (even when the system is not) and I get to the office pretty much always at the same time; when I had the chance to work really close to home and just bike there, my start time was much more variable. May 21 '15 at 12:06

I would view it as a small positive during the interview experience if a candidate is close to the office. I've also seen cases where close proximity to the office leads to highly variable arrival times at the office.

Where distance from the office gets to be a serious concern for me is if a current employee moves to a new location that is (still) a significant commute from the office. In this case, I expect them to start to have difficulty with attending morning or late afternoon meetings, them to work from home more frequently and them eventually looking for different opportunities because the commute is too much.

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