If a job involves any travel, you’re likely to hear interview questions like, “Are you willing to travel?” “How much are you willing to travel?” etc.
So in this article, I’m going to walk you through how to answer all of these interview questions.
And we’ll look at how to understand the meaning of “travel percentage,” so you’ll know what the job is really going to require before you say “yes” or “no.”
And finally, I’m going to share multiple word-for-word example answers to help you get confident and comfortable with this type of question. So make sure you read until the end.
Let’s get started…
If they ask an open-ended interview question like this about your willingness to travel, you should state your answer as a percentage.
For example, you could say:
“I’m willing to travel up to 30% of the time. That’s what I did in my last job, and I know I’m comfortable with that amount.”
They may ask you directly for a percentage, with a question like, “what percentage are you willing to travel?” and you’d answer that in the same way.
What does travel percentage mean, though? If you’re not sure, it’s essential to understand. So let’s discuss the meaning of “travel percentage.”
So what does 70 percent travel mean? It means that the employer expects you to be traveling or in cities other than your home city for 70 percent of your working days. So you would expect to spend seven days traveling or away from home for every three days in your home town/office.
This is a very high amount of travel. In my experience working as a recruiter, most travel jobs are 50% or below, because this is less stressful and more sustainable for the worker.
So, this is something to keep in mind when deciding how much you’re willing to travel, and whether you’ll take or decline the job offer.
The hiring manager may also come out and tell you how much travel is involved, and then ask an interview question to determine if this is an acceptable travel amount.
In this case, if it’s acceptable to you, then you can indicate that you are on-board with what they’re proposing. For example, you could say:
“That amount of travel will work for me. In my last company, I traveled that same amount, and it worked out fine.”
(It’s always good to show you’ve done something successfully in the past. This is the best way to improve to a new employer that you’ll be successful for them, too!)
No worries if you haven’t traveled for a job before, though…
Here’s an example of how you could still answer this question:
“That amount of travel sounds acceptable to me. I have no problem doing that for this role.”
Here’s another example:
“That sounds acceptable to me. I’d love to hear more about the role, and if it’s a good fit, then I am able to travel.”
Another thing to keep in mind is the actual travel schedule. Two jobs could both have the same travel percentage – let’s say 50%. But one could have you spending two weeks away and then two weeks at home, while the other could have you traveling for 2-3 days at a time, returning, and doing it all again a few days later.
Depending on your family, children, etc., you may be able to handle one of these travel requirements but not the other. So the travel duration and schedule are another thing you should clarify before answering.
You can say, “I would like to understand the company travel schedule a bit better. Can you give me an example of how long each trip would be, or what a typical month looks like?”
This will help you get a clear picture of what your work schedule would look like before you answer the interview question.
So don’t be afraid to ask questions of your own. You can’t answer interview questions like, “Are you willing to travel for this job?” without knowing what the company expects!
For example, if they ask, “Can you travel if the job requires it?” you’d want to respond by saying, “How much travel is expected in the role?”
You can’t give a good answer without knowing what they’re proposing or asking, so clarify that first.
Once you know what the company expects, then it’s time to directly answer their question and indicate whether you can travel the amount they require.
If you’re interested in the job but can’t travel quite as much as they’re proposing, you can say:
“I don’t think I can travel quite that amount. The job and work sound interesting, and I’d love to consider the position if the travel requirements can be reduced to 30%”.
This may work, it may not (it depends on the role and company’s flexibility), but it’s worth asking! This way, you’ll find out the best they can do!
You never know if they’re asking, “How much are you willing to travel?” because it’s a hard requirement, or if they’re just wondering how much you’re willing to do
So give an honest answer and don’t be afraid to make a counter-proposal.
A lot of job seekers are afraid to set limits or “push back” in a job interview, but this can actually make you more attractive to the company. It shows confidence!
However, you also don’t want to rule yourself out in an interview. So if you’re not quite sure, but think it’s possible to travel the amount that the company would like, just say “yes” for now.
You’re not accepting the job or signing a contract. You’re just indicating whether this might be possible for you.
And your goal in any interview is to get invited to the next step in the process… or get a job offer. So if you think it’s even remotely possible to travel the amount they want, then yes “Yes” and keep interviewing!
You can always go home and talk to friends and family and make a better decision about whether this is right for you! You do NOT need to decide this in the interview!
This is a slightly different question. But just like with the questions and sample answers above, you should give an honest, upfront answer. There’s no sense in wasting their time if you absolutely cannot relocate.
But if it’s even slightly possible, say “Yes” when an employer asks if you’re willing to relocate. Don’t rule yourself out.
Remember: Your goal in the interview is to impress them and get invited back to the next round – so keep going with the job interview, and ask questions to learn more as you go!
You’re NOT wasting the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s time by exploring the opportunity, as long as there’s a tiny chance you’d be willing to travel or relocate for the job.
They want the opportunity to sell you on their position! I can’t stress this enough: You’re not wasting their time. I hear a lot of job seekers bring up concerns about this, so I just wanted to set the record straight!
You should now know what travel percentage is, and how to answer any time an employer asks about what percentage you’re willing to travel.
Remember – you’re not signing a contract or agreeing to anything in writing; you’re merely indicating whether this could potentially work (for the right opportunity).
So stay calm, use the sample answers above, and be direct/concise when responding in a job interview.
This isn’t one of those interview questions where the hiring manager needs to hear a long-winded answer. So once you’ve answered the question, stop and let the interviewer move on!
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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