Screening Candidates for a Long Commute

My friend recently advertised for a new receptionist for her chiropractic business. The whole process was time-consuming, took a lot of energy, and detracted from her real job, but it had to be done. She interviewed several candidates, narrowed it down to one, and made a hire. Breathing a sigh of relief, she  started training the new girl. But after only two days of work, the employee unexpectedly quit. Her reason? The commute was too long! In spite of the fact that the candidate had driven to the office to interview, she hadn’t experienced driving in rush-hour traffic until the morning she started. Once she did, she realized she couldn’t face it every day. The chiropractor had to start the hiring process all over again.

Another friend of ours got a job about a 45-minute drive from home—on a good day. While she wasn’t thrilled about the commute, which proved to take longer than she’d first thought, she was happily employed for 9 months. But then a local organization offered her a job 2 minutes from her house. It was a no-brainer! As a working mom with children involved in sports activities, she couldn’t pass up the opportunity and gave her notice immediately.

The moral of these stories? Candidates who want the job badly may feel or act as if the commute is a non-issue, but the reality is, a long daily drive eventually takes its toll on anyone. When you screen candidates, it’s important to specifically address the issue of their potential commute. If it will be a long-distance or traffic-ridden one, Scott Kuethen, our CEO, recommends asking if candidates have done that kind of commute before. If they haven’t, chances are, they don’t know what they’re committing to. If they have, they are more informed about what they’re facing but might also burn out. Either way, it’s better to paint a realistic picture of the commute and discuss the ramifications now before either you or your candidates invest too much in the process.

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