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Why Do You Want to Work Abroad? Interview Tips and Answers to Explain Personal Reasons

Updated: Jun 19, 2023

From the desire to experience life in another country to following your heart, there are countless personal reasons why you might be looking for a job across borders. Whatever your motivation may be, you can count on one thing: interviewers will surely ask you why you want to work abroad.

And that's great news! Knowing that the question about your reasons for applying for a job abroad will come up gives you a chance to prepare a strong answer and be confident while explaining your reasons.

Here are five personal yet completely valid reasons to work abroad:

Read on to find done-for-you interview answers and tips to apply to each situation and make the most of your interview.

Reason #1: You need a change

Sometimes we get stuck in a rut, either at work or in life. But you want to step out of your comfort zone to shake things up. And you are craving a significant life change. No matter how extreme it may seem to some, you feel that moving abroad is exactly what you need. The world is calling!

Yet, you're not sure how to put it in words during the interview. You don't know how to explain your reasons for wanting to live and work abroad in a rational way instead of justifying it with an emotional pull toward the new and unknown.

Here's an example of how you can answer it.

Interview answer: How to explain it in an interview

"My main motivation is to challenge myself professionally and personally. I'm driven by finding new opportunities and exploring the unknown in work and life, and I'm always looking for ways to get out of my comfort zone. At this point in my career, moving and working abroad feels like the best way to do it. Plus, I want to develop my career in {industry or field}, and I have always been fascinated with {country}. So, this opportunity is a perfect combination of my professional and personal goals.”

Interview tips

  • Highlight your reasons for wanting to work in a specific country or field, not just feeling a need for change in general. This approach will show employers that you're serious about making a career out of it and not just looking for a quick adventure.

  • Don't make it all about yourself, your wants, or your needs. Make it about them! Try to point out what the company can gain from hiring you, an international employee, like a fresh perspective and new ideas.

Reason #2: You want to live abroad

Living abroad has always been on your bucket list. After years of daydreaming about strolling the streets of an exciting new city—the one you could call home—you've decided to make it a reality.

But how to tell that to employers? Saying that you've always dreamed of living in Paris, London, or any other bucket—list city just doesn't feel right. Even though that might be the core reason, it's not the only one, and you want to give a more professional explanation.

Take a look at the next example.

Interview answer: How to explain it in an interview

"I've always been passionate about exploring and embracing different cultures. Having been fascinated with {country or city} for years, I have started actively looking for opportunities to immerse myself in the culture and experience it first-hand. When I saw the opportunity to join {company} as {job title} in {country or city}, I felt that that was the ideal fit for my professional and personal ambitions, and I couldn't miss applying for it. With my experience in {relevant area of expertise}, I'm confident I can bring a fresh perspective, new ideas, and insights from other markets.”

Interview tips

  • Remember, companies don't want someone just looking to move abroad but someone who can bring something new and valuable to their business. So, research the company and the industry before applying for a job there. Emphasize how you can use your experience of living and working abroad to benefit the company. Show employers how it will make you better at your job, help the team with new perspectives, and strengthen the company.

  • Briefly mention your reasons for wanting to live in this specific country or city. It shows your commitment and understanding of the cultural context of the new job. Plus, it implies that you have done your homework by researching {country} 's culture, economy, and other relevant aspects, showing your motivation and dedication.

  • Be careful not to stereotype the country or city you want to live in. (Sidenote: Sadly, Emily in Paris, Eiffel Tower, or croissants are not convincing reasons to move to France.) Show employers that your reasons and interest in the country or city are based on research and informed decision, not stereotypes or a superficial understanding of the culture.

Reason #3: You want to learn a new language

If you want to learn or improve your language skills, relocating is one of the best ways to do so. Being surrounded by native speakers quickly accelerates language learning since it requires regular use of language outside of structured classes or lessons.

Mentioning this makes it clear that working overseas isn't just about getting away from home but also about developing yourself professionally by expanding your language skills. However, you're not sure if that's convincing enough.

Here's how you can position it.

Interview answer: How to explain it in an interview

"My interest in {language} and {country} culture has grown over the past few years. This opportunity with {company} seems like a great way to immerse myself in the culture and learn the language while continuing to develop my skills in {industry or field}. With several years of experience in {relevant industry} in {current country}, I am well-equipped to bring a fresh perspective from different markets and contribute to the team.”

Interview tips

  • Don't point out learning the language as the single reason for wanting to find a job abroad. Employment is not a language course; you don't want the employers to feel like you'd be more focused on learning the language than doing the work.

  • Demonstrate how being an international candidate and knowing your native language helps you be a better employee and enable you to understand and appreciate cultural differences.

  • Show dedication and commitment by mentioning language classes or programs you have taken and the resources you plan on using to help you further develop your skills once you are living in your new country.

Reason #4: You are looking for international work experience

It's true—working abroad offers a unique opportunity to gain international work experience, build a worldwide network, expand your horizons, and gain a global perspective.

Having experience living and working overseas can also give you a competitive edge and help you stand out from the crowd—especially in global companies where diverse perspectives and experiences are important.

You can use this argument to explain why you want to find a job overseas to position yourself as an ideal candidate who will bring something new and valuable to the company.

Interview answer: How to explain it in an interview

"I'm looking for an opportunity to gain international work experience and build a global network, and the idea of living and working in {Country} has always fascinated me. {Company} is particularly attractive to me because it has offices in many different countries, which will allow me to learn from colleagues with diverse backgrounds and understand how business is done in various markets."

Interview tips

  • Remember that employers are looking for someone who can bring new skills and knowledge to the role, so highlight the value (skills and experiences) you bring to the table.

  • What would you say if they asked you “What would you get from working at {new location} that you can’t get where you’re now?” Be prepared to get probed on your motivation to move and work abroad.

  • Explain how your background and experience make you the best candidate for the job and how you plan on using this opportunity to grow and develop professionally.

Reason #5: You want a better life

Working abroad is a great way to build a successful career and exciting life, especially if you come from a small town or a country with limited career and job opportunities.

Depending on where you come from, you may not be able to have the lifestyle you want in your home country. If that's the case, you see going abroad as a great way to experience new cultures, explore the world and open yourself up to potential opportunities for further career development.

Your only concern is explaining that to interviewers.

Let's take a look at how you can position it.

Interview answer: How to explain it in an interview

"I'm looking for a job abroad because I want to develop further, beyond what is available to me in {current country}. In my opinion, the best way to do it on a personal and professional level is by changing the environment, expanding my horizons, and working with international teams such as the ones in {company}. I've specifically applied to {job} at {company}, as it combines all the things I'm excited about: {list a few responsibilities}, {company's values}, international environment, and the opportunity to develop further."

Interview tips

  • Avoid speaking negatively of your home country.

  • When explaining why you want to work abroad, focus on the opportunities that come with living in the desired location, how this opportunity fits your career path and helps you grow professionally.

  • Point out the tangible benefits you bring to the table, e.g., relevant skills and experiences or international perspective. Be ready to explain how your international experience and cultural understanding will help you contribute successfully to the role.

Bonus: You want to move for love

Following your heart to another country? Ah, we've been there!

If you want to move abroad to finally remove the "long—distance" part from your long—distance relationship and be with your loved one, you're probably eager to land a job abroad as soon as possible.

Now, moving for love is a perfectly valid reason to look for a job abroad, and a surprisingly common one. But you'll need to think carefully about how to explain it in an interview since it can be a delicate topic.

Interview answer: How to explain it in an interview

"This opportunity at {company} seems like a perfect fit to my skills, previous experience, and interests. It combines {list your areas of expertise}, and considering that it's based in {country or city}, it also provides an opportunity to contribute with my skills to an international team which excites me. Now, why specifically {location}? I have a personal reason that helped me narrow down the options on the location where I'd like to continue developing my career."

Interview tips

  • Your relationship shouldn't be a focal point of your answer regarding the motivation to move and work abroad. Instead, talk about professional reasons.

  • Don't go into too much detail about your relationship. Simply explaining it with "for personal reasons" should be enough - and the meaning of it is often clear to the other side.

  • Always imagine as if they're actually asking you: "Why are you interested in this job opportunity?" You can mention personal reasons, but approaching the question from the job-focused angle will help you stay focused on the professional reasons that played a role in your decision to apply for that specific job.


There are so many personal and life reasons to look for a job abroad. Shaking things up, living in a dream city, learning new languages, and following your heart are just a few.

Whatever your reasons are, relocating for a job can be an exciting new chapter in life that offers plenty of opportunities for personal and professional growth. But, explaining your reasons for wanting to work abroad in an interview can be tricky. You may feel that employers won't understand your reasons, or you might worry they'll view them as frivolous.

With the right preparation and attitude, you can easily explain any reasons for wanting to work abroad, no matter how personal or professional those reasons might be.

Bookmark this article with interview answer examples and tips to get some inspiration and prepare for your international interviews.

What's next?

Two female career coaches and HR professionals. Matilda Patsou and Ana Colak Fustin. Cutout headshots in a circular frame on purple background.

Matilda Patsou & Ana Colak-Fustin

Matilda and Ana, the founders of MoreThanCareers, are expats, international corporate recruiters and HR professionals with 18+ years of combined HR experience. Since 2018, our career-building techniques, tools and resources have helped over 500 coaching clients and 8,000 individuals worldwide land new, more fulfilling, higher-paying and career-changing jobs.

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