How to approach a candidate about a job with a long commute

HR professionals should discuss commuting with candidates.

Typically, one of the first questions HR experts ask job applicants is whether they're OK with the commute to the proposed job. They usually inquire to ensure they're not wasting their time or the candidate's.

However, all too often HR personnel and recruiters simply don't propose this question in the correct way. Sometimes they ask the candidate if the commute is acceptable too late in the phone screen, or they completely forget to ask. Other times, they fail to provide the candidate with enough information to make an informative decision. For example, the candidate may deny the opportunity because he or she is against traveling a long distance to the job, but they might have been more open had the HR executive presented them with better information about the company and position. For example, the company pays well and has opportunities for growth.

Here are several ways HR professionals and recruiters can properly bring up commuting with a candidate, as well as address concerns with longer travel times.

"Asking the candidate up front about their commute preferences can save everyone a lot of time."

1. Ask the candidate up front
As mentioned, some professionals forget to ask the candidate about his or her job radius before conducting the phone screen. Others, however, may also do it on purpose – to present positive information before potentially deal-breaking details – to increase the likelihood of moving the client through the sales funnel.

While we understand why employers would take the latter approach, asking the candidate up front can save a lot of time. More so, if commuting is an issue, the employer can ensure they address these concerns early and often.

2. Focus on commuting during the phone screen
HR personnel and recruiters shouldn't try to dupe or pressure candidates into taking positions. Instead, they should discuss potential issues with the candidate – such as the commute to and from work – and address them immediately.

Take for example Gate Gourmet, a well-known provider of airline catering. According to ERE, the company had a turnover rate among new hires of 50 percent. After conducting thorough research, they found that the amount of time it took for employees to get to work was a deciding factor in their reason to leave. Commute times averaged roughly 35 minutes. HR resolved this problem by putting more emphasis on the distance to and from work and how accessible employees were to public transportation.

Now, the above example describes a great solution to a problem for HR professionals who work for a company. What about recruiters who work for a staffing firm? The same resolution applies. Recruiters who address commuting times upfront can also save themselves time and money by ensuring they're only presenting the most qualified candidates to their clients. If a company hires employees through a recruiting firm, and those workers constantly abandon or quit their jobs, the firm is likely to lose that company as a client. That's why it's critical both HR personnel and recruiters address potential commuting problems early in the interview process.

"Commuting can be a problem if the company doesn't offer commuting benefits."

3. Discuss benefits
Commuting can be a problem if the company doesn't offer commuting benefits. These include:

  • The ability to work remotely.
  • A pre-tax employee-paid payroll deduction.
  • A tax-free employer paid subsidy.

Employees can save money when they take advantage of these benefits because they don't have to pay income taxes on the money they use for their commute.

Front loading an entire conversation with commuting logistics and benefits may not be the best strategic approach to keep a potential candidate on the line. However, an employer can easily discuss this in 20-30 seconds, and quickly pivot to talking about the open position if the candidate appears interested.

4. Stay in touch
If a candidate begins to move the interview process, don't be afraid to bring up the commute at least one more time if you think they're wavering. You don't want to make the candidate rethink his or her position, but it's critical to continue to address problems by reiterating solutions. You want the candidate to feel comfortable with his or her choice, and they may lean on you to help them solve transportation challenges.


As you can see, discussing the commute with a job candidate is important. Hiring is the most important thing you do. Trust it to Global HR Research. Find out more by calling 1-800-790-1205 or visiting the GHRR website today.

This entry was posted in Background Screening. Bookmark the permalink.