In general, you'll want to be cautious and moderate in your response, but take into account your own long-term preferences. Here's what you need to know about how to respond to this type of inquiries, whether you're interested in a full-time role or not.
What the Interviewer Wants to Know
Interviewers may ask about your openness to a full-time position for a few reasons.
First, it's possible that a full-time role may be opening up soon. This question can also be a way for interviewers to gauge your overall schedule and availability.
Plus, interviewers may see this question as a way to get a sense of how interested you really are in working for the company.
How to Answer Questions About Working Full-Time
"Would you prefer full-time employment to part-time if a job were available?" can be a tricky interview question.
On the one hand, if you are hoping that the job will turn into a full-time position, you want your prospective employer to consider you first should the opportunity arise. On the other hand, you don't want to raise the doubt that should a full-time position present itself, you would walk out of your part-time commitment.
For that reason, whether you would want a full-time job or not, you should at least say you would consider it, unless you are absolutely sure you never would. In your response, you should also speak positively about the job you are applying for, and the company.
Be cautious when you respond and keep your answer general, so you're not committing to one type of employment or the other.
Sample Answers About Full-Time vs Part-Time Employment
The following answers would work well – be sure to tailor them to your particular situation:
- “Right now, my education/family/children prevent me from considering full-time employment, but I wouldn't rule it out at some point in the future.”
- “What’s important to me is that I enjoy the work and the people I'm working with. I have many interests, and having a part-time job allows me the time to pursue them.”
- “I’m interested in this position at your company because (give the aspects of the job that interest you most). I'm available to work part-time but I'm interested in exploring opportunities at your company.”
In addition, you can discuss your flexibility for hours, days of the week, and shifts you are available. This will show the interviewer how you could be a good fit for their needs.
Sample Answers for When You Prefer to Work Full-Time and the Job is Part-Time
Employers may post jobs as part-time or temporary so they can assess whether new employees would make a good full-time employee.
If you know anyone at the company, do a little research with current employees to see whether this is the tactic used by the company.
If you can find out this key bit of information, you will be able to craft your answer better. Take a look at these possible answers:
- “I’m available for part-time work now and I am interested in working for your company. In the coming months, I will be available to work more hours.” (You can give a reason if you have one, such as family schedule, education schedule, etc.)
- “I would love the opportunity to become a full-time employee. I am very excited at the prospect of this part-time job, but I would gladly accept a full-time position if it were ever available. I believe my organizational and time management skills would make me a very strong full-time employee.”
- “I’ve wanted to work for your company for years because of your consistent success in the industry. I would definitely like to become a permanent employee for such a terrific organization. I’m a quick learner with a passion for the work you do.”
However, if you discover that the company rarely promotes part-time staff to full-time, focus on why you are interested in working for the company in the offered position. You don't want to raise a red flag that you are looking to move on to a full-time position elsewhere.
How to Respond If You Can Only Work Part-Time Hours
Do as much research as possible before the interview as to the hours, shifts, and days of the week that the job requires. See if you’re a good match considering your availability based on child care, education schedule, commuting logistics, etc. You can use these as the basis for your answer:
- “I'm interested in working in the position for your company because (give reasons) and I am available (give the hours/days/shifts).”
- “I enjoy the flexibility of part-time work and am excited for the chance to give my undivided attention to your company three days a week. If my schedule changes in the future and allows me the time to do my best work for you full time, I would love the opportunity for a permanent job.”
- “At this time, temp work is best for my family and I. I think I will fit in very well with your company culture, and for now, I think I can do that best in a temp position.”
Tips for Giving the Best Response
- Keep it positive: No matter what your answer is, be sure to stay positive about the job at hand. Express your enthusiasm for the company and the job when asked why you want to work there. Be sure to focus on how you can benefit the company rather than how the job or company will benefit you.
- Keep the door open: Focus on what you like about the specific role. Unless you know you would never want a permanent job, explain that you might be interested in a permanent job in the future. If you know you’d like a full-time job, you can say so, and briefly explain why you’re qualified for a full-time position.
- Provide an explanation: If you know you don’t want a full-time job, explain (briefly) why you prefer a part-time or temporary job.
What Not to Say
- Don't be negative: You don't want to say anything negative about the role at hand or about working full-time. (Remember, you're likely interviewing with someone who had a full-time role.)
- Avoid being overly personal: You may have complicated reasons for wanting to keep your hours part-time, but avoid oversharing. Simple comments such as, "I'm also attending school so full-time isn't a good fit" are a sufficient explanation. No need to run through the nitty-gritty details of your schedule.
- Don't be too gung-ho about full-time work: Even if you're interested in going full-time, keep your response even-keeled. After all, the role you are applying for is part-time. If you're too enthusiastic about the possibility of full-time, interviewers may think you'll continue to interview even after accepting a part-time role.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- What days/hours are you available to work? - Best Answers
- Do you have any activities that would prevent you from working your schedule? - Best Answers
KEEP YOUR ANSWER GENERAL You don't want to be too enthusiastic about the potential for a full-time role, but you also don't want to shut the door on the option.
BE POSITIVE Whatever your answer, aim to keep it positive, and express your enthusiasm for the role at hand and the company.