Too Much Information

Should you volunteer information in an interview that will hurt your chances of getting hired? 

When interviewing, it is important to be honest.  Lies and fabrications will doom your chances when they are discovered.  At the same time, there is information job seekers volunteer that is not essential.  Often this information hurts the candidate’s chances.  One example of this I have run into relates to spouses of individuals who relocate frequently.  The spouse volunteers that they are likely to move again in a few years.

This is common in the military and in some corporations.  There are individuals who relocate every three to five years.  They know the odds are good a posting will not be permanent.

During the hiring process, a job seeker will often highlight the frequency of the relocations to explain why they are “jumpy.”  Being jumpy is a term for people who do not stay in a job very long.  It usually has a very negative connotation and many hiring managers will assume the job seeker was unsuccessful.  This makes it important to explain why a person changed jobs.  Frequent relocations due to a spouse’s career explain a jumpy track record. 

Unfortunately, there is a question you are almost guaranteed to hear…  How long will you be here before you relocate again?  Most hiring managers want to hire people who will stay a long time.  They don’t want to hire someone they know they will have to replace quickly.  How you answer this question can affect your odds of getting hired significantly.

If you know you are going to relocate in the near future, you need to be honest.  However, there are few people who know with certainty what is going to happen have two, three or five years down the road.  You and your spouse may plan for your spouse to stay in the military for an additional ten years, and it is likely you will need to relocate a few times during that period.  This isn’t a guarantee.  There is a lot that can happen that can change this plan. 

Your plans can change due to your decisions.  Your spouse may decide to leave the military earlier than planned or you may not need to relocate when the next posting comes out.  Your plans may also change due to factors outside your control.  Just because your spouse wants to stay in the military, there is no guarantee this will be an option.  The military grows and shrinks over time.  There have been periods when it was very difficult to stay in the military because of downsizing.  There is a wide range of other reasons that could also change your plans. 

In the corporate world, predicting the future is even more difficult.  No matter how stable a company is, there is no guarantee they will continue in their current form.  Well respected companies fail and mergers can dramatically change the goals and procedures of a company.  A person also has more control of their career in the private sector.  Someone in the military usually cannot refuse a new assignment, but you can refuse a transfer within a company.  There can be negative effects on a person’s career by doing this, but it possible to decline a move.

All of this creates uncertainty.  No matter how you plan the future, it is very difficult to be certain what the future will hold several years down the road.  For this reason, you should be careful when speculating about the future in the future.

When asked if you will relocate again, answer honestly:  You do not have firm plans to move.  You may relocate again, but you don’t know for sure.  There are a lot of factors that could affect this.  Right now, you are focused on building a career here. 

Volunteering more information than this is unlikely to help you and it can create a false expectation with a hiring manager. 

The one exception to this advice is if you know with certainty you are moving.  If your spouse has accepted another position, and you know you will be moving in the near future, you really should be honest about this.