Your preferences around traveling for work will define whether you’re happy and successful in a new role. If a job requires travel, this topic will likely be one of the first things an interviewer asks about. Here are a few things to consider when formulating your answer to “Are you willing to travel?”
Why do interviewers ask if you are willing to travel?
For some, the opportunity to travel the world and call it work is a dream come true. For others, it’s a nightmare that negatively impacts their job satisfaction and their life outside of work. It’s in an employer’s best interest to learn which end of the spectrum you’re on (or if you’re somewhere in between) before they move you forward in the hiring process.
If the job requires a lot of travel, an interview will ask about your openness to it to decide whether to rule you in or out. Or, it’s possible travel could be part of the job depending on the employee’s preferences, so the interviewer is asking to get a better idea of what to plan for if they hire you.
What is an interviewer looking for in an answer about willingness to travel?
An interviewer wants to gauge your honest attitude toward and realistic availability for work-related travel. This information will help them assess whether you’re up for the job’s demands regarding how much you’ll be on the go.
They also ask this question to understand your expectations for the role better. When an employer’s requirements are not aligned with what a candidate expects, that’s when rapid turnover happens. This question helps determine if the two of you are on the same page about travel and other important aspects of the job.
How to answer the interview question, “Are you willing to travel?”
Communicate your willingness to travel
Many positions require some travel, but making a few trips a year is much different than being in a new city every other week. Decide what level of travel you’d be comfortable with and communicate this clearly to the interviewer.
When formulating your answer, consider both frequency and duration. For example, you might be okay with making several trips of two to three days each, but wouldn’t be comfortable being gone for multiple weeks at a time.
Cite previous travel experience
If you’re gung-ho about traveling and want to convince the employer you’re the perfect person for the job, share any prior experience you have traveling for work. Give specific examples of what you accomplished on the trip and how travel plays a role in your strong performance.
Convey any limitations
This is a good time to mention any conditions you might have around travel briefly. For example, “I understand that travel is a routine part of the job, and I’m excited about that. My spouse must attend a weeklong out-of-state conference every June, and that’s the only time I would not be able to travel.”
Ask for more information
Gathering more information to help you make an informed answer is a great idea. This shows that you care about your ability to be successful in the role. Ask for additional details with a response like, “I’m open to travel, but I’d like to understand the expectations a little better. Could you tell me how many trips typically happen per quarter?”
How not to answer
Talk about how much fun you have traveling for work
This is not a question about whether you like to travel, so don’t get sidetracked talking about your love for sightseeing or trying global cuisines. Keep the focus on the job and its requirements.
Ask about bringing your spouse or family
Some jobs have the added perk of allowing professional travel to double as a family vacation. However, the job interview is not an appropriate time to ask if this is an option.
Going into too much personal detail
Avoid sharing information that could introduce bias or negatively impact your candidacy, like going into extensive detail about your childcare situation.
Sample answers to “Are you willing to travel?”
Traveling for work can keep things interesting and be a lot of fun–if you’re on the same page with your employer about how much you’re willing to travel. Giving an honest answer and facilitating further discussion will help ensure your ideas about travel are aligned and that you’ll both meet your needs if you get the job.