I immigrated from Canada to Ireland.

The reasons are very personal and every job interview I have gone to in Ireland it has come up as to why I immigrated. They have been grilling me as to why I immigrated and if I like it in Ireland (almost in disbelief). It's not always the fact that they ask me but it's how they ask sometimes in a very skeptical and bewildered manner. I didn't like where I was living for a variety of reasons and I don't come to a job interview to discuss finances, economics, politics, personal preferences, family issues etc. The interviewers seem to think that Canada is a paradise when it is not and there is a massive culture difference. I don't see much of a culture difference between 2 first-world English-speaking countries.

So far, I just tell them that my husband is Irish and he has 8 siblings so we felt that it's better to live in Ireland.

Even I feel uncomfortable telling them this because I am revealing my marital status and my family status in a job interview. I don't feel comfortable telling them why I dislike where I lived before. It's not really anyone's business.

What can I tell them to avoid all the awkwardness and to keep the interview focused on the job? Have I been handling this properly?

  • 10
    Just say to be near family.
    – paparazzo
    Mar 12, 2017 at 15:00
  • 3
    What's the harm in telling them you moved over with your husband? I told people I move to Australia to rejoin my parents and sister. In fact, you being married gives more of an impression in being "stable". As for their incredulity as to why you'd move to Ireland - Canada seemed an exotic and wonderful place (albeit a bit chilly) when I was in England - they're probably thinking the same. If you're really uncomfortable, think of some other reason you could give them
    – HorusKol
    Mar 12, 2017 at 15:00
  • 2
    In Canada, if you are a married woman you are seen as a 'maternity risk' and possibly less committed to career. Mar 12, 2017 at 15:31
  • 13
    I honestly wouldn't worry too much; it's a typically Irish thing - "why'd you leave [a place we assume to be paradise] to come here, sure it's horrible here!". That's just part of our culture, we love to pretend we hate the place and anyone who moves here of their own volition must be "pure shtone mad". My advice would be, just roll with it, if you moved here for love, say so! If you wanted super top-notch professionalism when it comes to interviews, you will struggle to find it here - we're friendly and we like to take a much more informal approach to these kinds of things :) Mar 12, 2017 at 16:26
  • 2
    "They have been grilling me" - it's likely they are just trying to get to know you. To them it may be a natural thing to ask about. Prepare what you will answer to such questions before going into the interview. You can make it generic if you want as long as you tell it in a confident way. Be ready with some generic comments about things you like about the country, etc. and just behave as though it is quite normal to move here.
    – Brandin
    Mar 13, 2017 at 7:25

5 Answers 5


So I am Canadian, moved to the UK as a child, and moved back to Canada within the last year.

I would suggest there are two things here:

  • Genuine curiosity: Canada is seen by some as an idealistic place to go, and people are interested in why you went the other way (especially in this climate of post crash/Brexit, rise of the right in Europe). I lived in Scotland and every single person I talked to (even the woman in Tescos doing my Canadian passport photos) was really supportive of such a move and said they wished they could do something similar. I don't know what you can do to stop it, it's primarily clumsiness on their part.
  • The other part that I saw is more a worry about commitment. I think the fear is that you will either go back (especially if they agree with point one), or that having made this move (which is a big life step), will be unafraid to move on again if things don't work out as hoped. I did indeed do this, my first job was highly paid, but a poor culture and I moved job within six months, so maybe a valid fear on their part.

So I would just be firm about the move being family oriented and stress it was planned, not a spur of the moment thing. This should be enough to answer without giving personal details away that you don't want to.

I would also drop some hints about commitment. When asked about where I was living (a valid question for sustainability of commute) I mentioned I was in a rental for a year, but was actively looking at buying (and indeed just have), if I mentioned commuting I would carefully talk about the drive being ok as I had bought a nice car of my own. These things help establish you aren't going to just "up and go home" on a whim.

  • 1
    Well I have been in Ireland for 4 months already very impatiently interviewing and not having much luck. I guess if I hated it that much I'd be gone by then. Mar 13, 2017 at 19:03
  • 1
    "already very impatiently interviewing and not having much luck" - and if that shows to interviewers they will definitely think you are a flight risk, so you may be caught in a vicious circle. Mar 14, 2017 at 17:17
  • Well it's annoying to interview for a job and then be hassled by every single one about why I moved and then not get the job for 'not enough experience'. I don't know why anyone would want to live in Canada. It sucks, it's expensive and not worth the money. Mar 25, 2017 at 23:57
  • Well as I say YMMV. I had to hold off a move for 20 years due to my Mum's health, been back nearly a year and the wfie, kids and myself agree it's the best thing we ever did. Standards of life improved, much more fun as a family, away from all the Brexit turmoil, great. Mar 26, 2017 at 17:05
  • It sounds like you do not need the support of extended family to feel happy. Many people would not be happy like that. Money can't make up for support. That's what Irish people do better than Canadians - family & community. Why would Brexit be turmoil? I think it's great for the UK. Don't know how it would impact your daily life. Mar 26, 2017 at 17:18

I've dealt with this a lot for most of the last decade, as I grew up in Florida and currently live in the Midwest, and often meet people from both the east and west coast. I imagine they think of family vacations to the world-famous beaches, Disney, resorts, and restaurants, they think of the "sunshine state" motto, and all that. I've met people who've encountered similar reactions being from southern California, Seattle, New York, Paris - etc.

I have found the key is to find a polite, positive, upbeat script that works for you. Mine generally goes like this:

  1. Politely acknowledge positive aspects of where you are coming from. Great lines include: it is a great place for family vacations, I got to meet and learn about a lot of different types of people, the food is great, its glamorous or exciting (or laid-back and relaxed), note the nicest season they have, some sport, etc. Pick something that people often think of, and that you don't really disagree with.
  2. Pick a simple, honest reason that you moved. For instance: to be with family (you don't have to specify exact relationships if this makes you uncomfortable), the cost of living, employment prospects, etc. In your case, just "I wanted to be closer to extended family, and I have a lot of relatives here".
  3. Finally, my favorite part - offer a positive, honest thing that you like about this new place, and bonus points if it's somewhat insightful. Best results are when you point out something that makes them realize they know they should be more thankful for, but take for granted. This is personal and varies by place. Examples: the common friendliness of strangers, local food and/or cultural events, being close to the sea, outdoor adventures, architecture, whatever. It's good to practice this with locals in restaurants, bars, social events, etc, so you can see how people react and find the right fit. This naturally leads into questions like "what do you do for fun outside of work", or even answers them preemptively.

The real secret is you have to be genuinely sincere to get the best results, and you have to suck it up and get over your personal negative feelings about places you've been or you are going to come off as unpleasant, immature, negative, unreliable, flaky, unstable, or worse. These are all perfectly reasonable traits for people to want to identify and avoid, so in the case that any apply to you consider this a necessary growing experience.

If you really, really hated a place, I have at times found it possible to find socially acceptable complaints, but this can be touchy. I've succeeded with things like heat/cold tolerance (moving from the desert/tundra), violent crime/human trafficking when moving from areas where this is big, and crowded/deserted (from big place to little, or little place to big). But I've found that such negativity far too commonly taints the conversation, so I suggest you "keep to the sunny side" and compare positive traits.

Finally, as a last piece of advice - there's a good chance that you are bringing a 'vibe' of desperate, impatient, annoyed, or anger to your job interviews, and in my personal experience this repels good opportunities and attracts only job offers at dysfunctional places (I've been there, and at the time I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong). When you are going through harsh times and big changes I know it can be hard, but it's important to get yourself into a good mindset before you do an interview - exercise, watch some funny clips, affirmations in the mirror, stare at cute pictures of cats, whatever works for you. It doesn't always come easily, but I've found that just temporarily psyching yourself up into a good place can make all the difference in the world. Happy people like being around happy people - and the spiral works in both directions.

  • "I... found it possible to find socially acceptable complaints...I've succeed with things like... human trafficking.." -- well, I would hope that's an acceptable complaint!! Mar 26, 2017 at 20:10

What I did when i was asked on an interview why i came to Germany, it was to explain that since I have German family, I wanted to know better how it is to live in Germany out of curiosity, plus to get a more fluent German.

Maybe your curiosity for the Irish culture wasn't your reason number one to move, but if it was there, I think something in this line can be a good answer.


I think it would be helpful to put yourself into the position of the interviewer and try to understand the motivation behind the question. Apparently moving from Canada to Ireland seems unusual to them, so they could be thinking

  1. What's the long term outlook. Is this person here to stay or do they just want to bridge a short period before they move back to CA or someplace else?
  2. Did something bad happen in Canada that triggered the move?
  3. Something else

Before answering I would try to figure this out first. For example

I'm happy to answer the question, but I don't quite understand what my immigration has to do with this job. Could you tell me what's your specific concern or interest about this is, so I can make sure my answer is relevant?"

Depending on the reply you can tailor the answer. If it's about commitment you need to say something along the lines of "we are here to stay". If it's about what happened in Canada you can offer "I'm happy to supply reference from my previous employers"

Some interviewers may also back off at this point. Asking them to articualte the reason for asking may make them realize that this is probably not the most appropriate or relevant question. Back off would sound probably like "Oh, I was just curious". That should elicit a friendly but short answer. "We have lots of family here which wanted to be closer to".

  • I don't know how true it is, but I often hear how bad the job market in Canada is in certain fields. Everyone says it's nothing like the official/public picture is about finding jobs and how easy it is. And I for certain see that half of the job spam I get personally are positions in Ireland in particular (I live in Finland...). So maybe OP could use that as the reasoning for employers? Mar 12, 2017 at 19:03
  • 4
    That sounds like a really bad structure for any question. "How was your weekend?" "I'm not sure what my weekend has to do with this job, could you tell me what it is you are looking to hear?"
    – user42272
    Mar 12, 2017 at 19:06
  • @Juha Untinen - really depends on industry. Oil, yes I can see a challenge. IT, I get about 3 new jobs pinged a day (not intended as bragging, I've seriously had 15 recruiters ping me in a day) . Mar 12, 2017 at 19:42

Let's analyze this situation, your potentially future employer asks you a very natural question and that makes you feel uncomfortable. The thing is, you can not just answer something negative, let's take a look :

Employer : "Ma'am, Why would you leave your cozy / fancy Canada to move to a s***hole place like Ireland (lots of disbelief prior to you answer)

You : "Tbh, I didn't have a choice / for my family / because Canada sucks / etc"

That's a negative answer, as a boss, my first feeling would be that you're not a reliable person, and if you happened to get the job, you would not be 100% committed to your tasks, and would most likely seize the first opportunity to see if the grass is greener somewhere else.

A question during an job interview is an opportunity to promote yourself, and what you have to do when they ask you why you moved is to be confident and give them what they want.

2 solutions :

You're not comfortable with lying Say the truth (I moved to join family etc) + add some job or career related details like : Ireland is part of EU (for now), I'll be closer to "major POI", Your company ranked in my top 3. Make it an opportunity that you had to move.

You accept to lie a little to get the job You're only limited by your creativity, don't mention moving because of your family and play with feelings : I have Irish blood and I've always wanted to live on the land of my ancestors, I love the irish tradition, etc

Of course, I don't encourage you to lie, but if you wanna get the job, you might need to embellish the truth a little. That doesn't mean you can't clarify the story to you coworkers once you're hired (after the trial period) ;)

I wish you luck and don't post back until you get a job !

Source : I've been involved in recruiting process for a couple of years

  • 4
    Lying is pretty much always a bad decision. There is no reason why the driver for the move can't be pitched in a positive way, but claiming Irish blood falsely will come back and haunt you, downvoting as bad advice. Mar 13, 2017 at 18:01
  • that's why I said it was not encouraged (but still a possibility), besides, my answer was about getting a job and not about ethics nor moral. Your nickname lets me figure you know what you're talking about...
    – Krazy8
    Mar 13, 2017 at 18:16
  • @Krazy8 Just getting the job doesn't mean anything, you need to be able to keep it. Lying to your employer makes that a lot harder than it needs to be. The truth is bound to come out eventually and at that point the company has very real (in most cases even legal) reasons to terminate your employment.
    – Cronax
    Mar 14, 2017 at 12:29

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