Why Employers Ask This Question
For many employers, schedule availability often makes the difference between hiring or rejecting otherwise qualified applicants. In popular industries like the retail and restaurant fields, businesses regularly maintain extended hours of operation and therefore need employees to remain available for work as consistently as possible. As a result, employers frequently use the interview process to ensure job seekers possess the willingness to work nights, weekends, and holidays. Responding to interview questions probing for flexible schedule availability involves the prioritization of extracurricular activities and the careful yet honest disclosure of personal information regarding outside commitments potentially interfering with work.
How to Answer This Question
Show Schedule Flexibility
In general, interviewees who commit to being flexible and working whenever necessary enjoy stronger hiring consideration than candidates who remain unwilling to work a variety of different shifts. However, job seekers should refrain from concealing or lying about significant non-work commitments just for the sake of demonstrating schedule flexibility. Most interviewers understand the need for work-life balance and try to accommodate the pressing scheduling issues of prospective employees. Applicants should focus on determining which scheduling conflicts to mention during the interview and how to go about discussing the topic.
Be Tactful and Reasonable When Explaining Schedule Conflicts
As a general rule, candidates interviewing for open employment should remain as reasonable as possible when explaining an unwillingness to work nights, weekends, or holidays. In other words, think about the types of scheduling conflicts a rational hiring manager would consider sensible and use the issues to answer interview questions about availability. More specifically, many employers prove willing to work around issues related to family, education, religion, or personal health, while scheduling conflicts created by casual hobbies and other easily rescheduled events typically inspire a less accommodating attitude from the interviewer.
Regardless of the issue, proceed cautiously when deciding how much information to disclose. For example, while some employers may view personally held religious beliefs as a legitimate reason for being unable to work certain days of the week or holidays, interviewees should avoid naming their specific religion and possibly introducing an illegal bias into the hiring process. Instead, describe the lack of availability as an unbreakable commitment or something similar and do everything possible to assure the interviewer of a willingness to maintain a flexible schedule on all the other days that remain available for work.