Tough Interview Question - Do you have any location preferences?

Do you have any location preferences?

Similar interview questions:
Where is your hometown? Do you want to return there eventually?
What parts of the country are you open to considering for work?
Is there a specific place you would like to live after graduation?
What would be your ideal place to live?

Why the interviewer is asking this question:
Most jobs (with the exception of virtual location roles) have a set physical location. If you’re not already in that location, it would require a move to get you there. Some candidates are willing to move while others are not. If the candidate is not willing to consider that location, it will be a very short interview. This question is often asked as a screening question before considering the candidate for a more in-depth interview. Some candidates will have absolutes when it comes to location (which is often the case when there is a spouse or other family involved) while others can be very flexible.

The best approach to answering this question:
If you have set limitations on where you will live, state them. But be aware that this may be a limiting factor in your job search so, if you are open to considering, keep things open. Do not focus on specific preferences unless you know your preferred location is the location (or one of the locations) being offered by this employer. Many employers will have multiple roles in multiple locations so you should be as open and as flexible as possible. The more open you are to multiple locations, the more attractive you will be not only as a candidate, but also as a future internal candidate, since future promotions may involve internal corporate relocation.

An example of how to best answer this question for experienced candidates:
"While I like the area where I currently live, I am open to considering other parts of the country for the right opportunity. I am early enough in my career to be mobile and flexible in what I will consider in terms of my work location. The work itself is what is most important for me."

An example of how to best answer this question for entry level candidates:
"I’m very flexible about where I will work after graduation. It would be relatively easy for me to relocate to other parts of the country and I’m open to exploring new opportunities."

An example of how you should not answer this question:
"I wanted to move back home after graduation to be closer to my Mom, but I can’t find a job there right now. So I would be open to considering another area just to get started, but my long-term goal will be to move back to my hometown if and when a job opens up there."

Remember to answer each interview question behaviorally, whether it is a behavioral question or not. The easiest way to do this is to use an example from your background and experience. Then use the S-T-A-R approach to make the answer a STAR: talk about a Situation or Task (S-T), the Action you took (A) and the Results achieved (R). This is what makes your interview answer uniquely yours and will make your answer a star!

Further review: know the answers to these Standard Interview Questions to be fully prepared for your interview!

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