A question about geographic preference often occurs early on in the interview during the get-to-know-you phase. Many candidates consider this an obvious question. If the company is in Chicago, then you break out into a rendition of “The Windy City.” But this may be a very important question if the company is considering plans to expand, or if they have in mind an opportunity that may involve travel. In this case, the challenge for the candidate is to give a real, honest answer, but one that gives lots of room for the plans the hiring manager may have.
Points to Emphasize
Most candidates want to secure the job without making locale a deal-breaker. Some ideas along these lines:
Get with your significant other and decide which locales would definitely be a problem. Can you realistically embrace the constant rain of Seattle Would you mind living in a small area with no big cities nearby Are you truly open to an overseas assignment in a dangerous country
Have a reasonable but ambiguous answer ready, such as, “We prefer the inviting weather of California, but have also enjoyed our time in the Phoenix desert and the Chicago winters.” We enjoy a variety.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
This question can invite specific or binding answers that could put a jimmy on the interview.
Avoid mentioning that you have family in a particular city that you or your spouse cannot live without.
Don’t tell any funny horror stories about how you couldn’t get out of a certain area fast enough.
Be very careful on the subject of kids. Some interviewers focus on the fact that most parents do not want to move their kids around during their school years. Decide beforehand how honestly and in how much detail you want to answer this question.
Unlike many interview questions, this one is not an opportunity to sell yourself. Unfortunately, it is an opportunity to disqualify yourself. Tread lightly and speak sparsely.
Here is an example of how to deal with this part of the interview:
I’m from Texas, my wife is from Alaska, and we’ve traveled all over. We like to visit our relatives but we hate being in each other’s pockets. Our kids love to travel too, and enjoy the experience of seeing new places and trying new things. We are looking forward to settling down, but we’re ready to take things as they come.
When responding to this question, remember that less is more. If you want the job regardless, then give just enough of an answer to show the hiring manager that you took his or her question seriously, and then stop talking.