The Relocation Candidate Who Said Yes, But Meant No

Jan 25, 2013

House moving in boxYou’ve got a new job order. You have a good feel of the group and the partner the new hire will  work with. You begin making calls and networking in the local market. After several weeks you come across a candidate with what looks like the perfect background. The concerning part is he’s outside the area.

You decide to reach out to the prospect anyway, and find him receptive. You are excited. You ask for a resume and when it comes, it’s as good as his profile on the law firm website; even better actually. Your heart skips a beat. You reach out to the candidate thank him for being so prompt, and you start the placement process by interviewing him. Great personality. Yes he would fit in well with the group. You stress this is a relocation; is he good with the idea? Wait was there hesitation in his voice when he answered the question. Maybe it was just your imagination.

You finish the candidate interview and ask his permission to present his qualifications to the client and he gives the go ahead. Yes, it must have been your imagination on the relocation question.

The client calls you back and is impressed with what they see. He is good with moving right? Yes, of course. But there’s just a bit of a nagging voice in the back of your mind. The client schedules a phone interview with the law firm partner with whom the new hire will work.

You call the candidate and relay the good news. He is still receptive and gives you a couple of dates. Just to relieve your mind you ask the relocation question again. He says yes, but it is not the firm solid yes you would like to hear. But you think: Once he hears more about the opportunity from the partner he will be even more excited.

The phone interview went very well, so well they want to fly him in for a full round of interviews. He accepts, gives me some dates and it is scheduled. I ask again about his decision to move,  and he tells me his wife is the one who is really excited about relocating. The family is very outdoors oriented and where they would be moving is just made for those who love outdoor activity.

OK.  I am feeling a little better. What husband is going to turn down his wife and her request? And anyway, this is not a cross-country move;  they would be able to drive back from their new location in about 8 hours.

Wondering what happened?

The firm made him an offer and it was more than $50k more than what he was making. I was excited for him. Knowing his wife wanted the move, I felt confident he would accept.


He did not accept and the reason came down to him to two things:

  • He really didn’t want to relocate;
  • And there was a disconnect between what the firm’s partners were telling him about expectations for his billable hours, and what the associates told him.

The moral of the story is this: When it comes to relocation candidates, you must listen to what they are saying when you ask the question. If you get hesitation, ask them again if they really are ready to move. Ask them if there anyone else who will be involved in making this decision.

And when you debrief the candidate and they tell you one group of people is telling them one thing and another group is telling them something else YOU need to say something to your hiring manager so they know there is a disconnect between parties.