Should You Hire that out-of-town Candidate? 5

Every so often a job application from an out-of-towner lands on a recruiter’s desk. These applications are generally treated with a fair amount of hesitation. It happens with good reason – interviewing someone from outside your city’s limits tend to be cumbersome. Add to that travel and relocation costs, and it just seems simpler to hire locally.

But what happens in those instances when you simply cannot find a local candidate that’s suitable? You surely can’t afford to go without an employee, otherwise the recruitment process would not have happened.

You could of course hire someone junior, but if a certain skill set is needed, this route won’t be an option. Then hiring a candidate from another city or town could be your only option.

There are a few tells you can look out for that’ll indicate the candidate you’re dealing with is serious and worth the effort, as well as the risk. All too often these candidates back out, which means the recruitment process has to start all over again.

Here are some signs that point to the fact that your potential employee is serious about uprooting their lives to your hometown:

The reason for relocating


The “why” behind the reason for a person applying for a job in another town is crucial. If they’re looking to swop cities just because they’re after a change of scenery, they could move on quickly if something better comes along. But if the move is due to substantial reasons, like a husband or wife moving jobs, a candidate is likely to stick with their application.

If you can’t find any clues as to the reason for the move in the CV or cover letter, give the candidate a quick call to chat to them about it. There will be another clue as to the suitability of a person here – a serious candidate will be happy to explain; a candidate that dodges your questions is not a safe bet.

Ties to the city

Someone with an established professional or friendly connection to the city they’re aiming to move to, is more likely to follow through with their decision. Social media comes in handy here. Don’t feel like you’re trespassing, as the majority of recruiters use social media to establish the suitability of candidates. A quick scroll through a LinkedIn or Facebook profile could reveal just the information you’re looking for. You might find a common acquaintance to approach as a reference.

Another idea is to enquire whether the candidate have a place to stay in town. This doesn’t have to be a house or flat they own or rent. Friends or family members who’ll provide accommodation in the first few weeks or months are good enough. Someone with a place to stay will feel more comfortable relocating, and will thus be more likely to do it should their application be successful.

Previous moves

Someone who’s spent most or all of their life in one place could back out of a move when the time comes. The fear of the unknown could be bigger than their appetite for a change. But when you can see that someone has lived in a few places over the years, you can definitely feel good about making them that offer. Beware of someone that town or job hop often, however. This is not good either, as they could leave you in a lurch in the near future.  

The fear of not knowing could also become a stumbling block for someone from a small town moving to a big city. So make sure that the person from Upington looking applying for city of Cape Town vacancies is actually ready to take on the big city.

Still no alarm bells ringing? Then it might just be time to set up an interview with that out-of-town candidate. Do it over the phone or via Skype to mitigate risk even further. These are standard methods of interviewing, and suitable candidates will understand why these routes were chosen. Should it be successful, set up a face-to-face interview, knowing that you’ve covered all your bases.



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5 thoughts on “Should You Hire that out-of-town Candidate?

  • Chantel Harris Post author

    Thanks for reading and commenting, everyone. Ian, you raise a valid point, as that is definitely a possibility (the CV being ‘active’). And Steve – all the best to you with the job hunting!

  • Karen Hardman

    I hope it works out for you Steve, the job market is not an easy place in any country.  Emigration is not on my radar, although it is good to have the contacts.  Priority Management operates in 77 locations (5 of them in Australia) and we are really hopefull we can break into the South African market, so home is where I will be.

  • Steve Short

    A very interesting post.  I am now located in Australia and have been trying to break through into the job market for over 12 months.  Some recruiters have openly told me that they give preference to locals first.  Thus, in this instance (unless I was a refugee), It’s been a huge challenge to get a door to open.  I suspect that there is also a degree of ‘academic snobbery’ because my qualifications were all earned in South Africa (even though I have had an equivalency assessment that pegs it at the same level as an Australian qualification).

    I am quite envious that you were successful Karen.  Will you be emigrating to Australia, or will you continue to operate remotely?  I can say without hesitation that it’s a great place to be for anyone who wishes to work in a first world country.  I must however add that I still love South Africa and did not emigrate to Australia for work reasons.

  • Ian Webster

    Thanks for the post.

    Even when the reason for relocating is genuine – spouse has a job here, mother is sick, etc. – one should be cautious. Your job might just be the first one on the horizon that gets the applicant into the area. They have no intention of staying and consider their CV still to be ‘active’.

    That, I guess, is where our normal selection skills come in: is this the right person for this job? Is this the right job for this person.

  • Karen Hardman

    I was hired by my “out of country” boss via Skype.  He is based in Australia and we have only met once in 18 months.  Skype is our meeting room.  We are now building a new training company together (although part of an international group) and most of the relationship is based on trust.  It was a huge risk on both our parts, but a risk we will hopefully be glad we took.