I am currently a foreign student (master degree) in Japan. I’ve already had 3-4 meetings and interviews with a major company. They need someone for a job related to international relations that would imply lots of trips or even moving to another country, and they seem rather interested in my candidature. I believe that my technical field of study combined to my language skills and the fact I’m already used to living abroad (as a foreign student) played a major role. (This is only speculation though. They did not explicitly say such things.)

Today I received an invitation to another interview, which I highly expect to be the last one. They pretty much stepped up the level of formality. After that, I’m expecting to get a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ but no ‘maybe’.

Now, my girlfriend is living in a different country right now. I am especially looking for a position that would allow me to live closer to her, or to live in a country where we could both move easily. Japan is not one of these countries. Therefore, I kinda have a ‘wishlist’ of countries to work in, that would make our couple life much easier.

They seem to have a decent interest in hiring me and I think this interview is the good time to step in and explain them that I am especially interested in working in some specific countries, for personal reasons. However, how should I do that ? (Or should I do it at all ?) If I say that, I expect them to ask why, and the conversation would quickly get into personal details. How to explain my situation firmly but neutrally, so that it does seem important while staying serious and professional? What should I do in this situation?

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    Is this a preference or a non-starter for you? That distinction is rather important here.
    – Lilienthal
    May 15, 2017 at 11:33
  • Please edit your question and be specific about country names and nationalities. IMO The question is not clear about where you are supposed to be stationed or and/or spend most of your time (Note that people answer you starting with a question)
    – user8036
    May 15, 2017 at 14:12
  • 1
    This is a good company and my best match so far, but not so as to be ‘my absolute dream’. May 15, 2017 at 14:12
  • Sorry, I stay purposely vague about the job and nationalities involved because I want to stay anonymous, and being more precise would create smaller subsets of an already very small set. May 15, 2017 at 14:15
  • Is there a reason you don't want to say you want to be near family/significant other? I don't think it will reflect negatively on you in any way.
    – David K
    May 16, 2017 at 16:08

4 Answers 4


According to the number of interviews you've already passed in that firm, I think saying that you have a preference for a specific country to work in is something that you can do. it'll then depend on the firm itself.

They would likely weigh your motivation to work in a foreign country if you highlight the fact that, for personal matters, you'll be able to set up a lifestyle where you feel more comfortable and that this changes will be reflected in your work in a positive way. No need to mention the girlfriend as personal matters shouldn't interfere during your job interview. Stay as professional as you can. Everything you should say about this issue should go straight into work improvement.

If you are really confident about your chances to be hired, feel free to ask in a polite and diplomatic way. Moreover, it'll show that you care about you're working environment.

Good luck!


Does this company offer positions in other countries or its a Japan-based one that includes a lot of travelling? If the first and they have not specifically specified in the job description they look for someone for their Japanese branch, feel free to bring it up that for personal issues (may as well say for family reasons to make it more explicit and avoid further scrutiny) you'll highly appreciate a position in their other branches. Now, the degree of how firmly you insist on that one is up to you. Consider if you're willing to work in their Japanese office at all or if working in Japan is something you wouldn't consider at all, if thats all they can offer you currently. Choose your wording in regards to this carefully in order to communicate this point precisely.


I don't think your approach is feasible. Seriously, countries are huge. Even if they would have an open position in the country your girlfriend lives in, how likely it is that it is within a reasonable distance for a real life relationship?

I mean, for now you might be grateful to just replace internation flights with national flights, but in the end even a 4 or 5 hour distance will feel crippling after two years. And that's how the person responsible for hiring will likely see it, too, and so consider you a less-than-ideal candidate.

Otherwise, I'm not sure what you think will happen when you are worried that things would escalate quickly into personal details. Choosing or changinge the workplace according to relationship requirements is fairly normal. Nobody is going to discuss how often you have to meet your girlfriend to maintain a healthy sex life. What might be discussed is how you see your future within the company considering the above mentioned problems or how you intend to arrange your future so that it matches the company requirements.

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    @unknown_fish: No need to be condescending. Though you are right that this does not directly answer your question - should probably be a comment.
    – sleske
    May 15, 2017 at 12:51
  • @sleske You are right, this comment was not useful and I deleted it. May 15, 2017 at 14:18
  • @sleske Considering the question:"how far should I go in explaining?" I answered, which reasonable questions and issues will arise for which he needs to find an answer. I can't give an answer what to say nor can I draw the line what is too much and what not. May 16, 2017 at 6:44
  • @JohnHammond: Fair enough. Admittedly, the question is not entirely clear either...
    – sleske
    May 16, 2017 at 6:58

If your personal reasons involved a spouse or your immediately family (children, or parents needing care), they'd have far more legitimacy than involvement of a girlfriend; likewise, it'd probably be far less of an issue to announce those reasons.

You may be able to influence a decision, but your potential employer may be turned off if it comes out that you've asked the company to jump through hoops over a someone you don't have strong ties with. Health insurance companies use the same rationale, which is why we can't insure a girlfriend but we can insure a legally declared domestic partner. As is, you might need a stronger case for the type of privilege you're requesting.

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