How to Answer Interview Questions About Availability for Work

Woman in job interview
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One question you might be asked during a job interview is, "What days/hours are you available to work?" Employers often ask this because they want to know how flexible you are. Many companies look to hire staff who can work a flexible schedule during the hours the organization is operating. That may mean evening, night, and flexible day shifts rather than a set schedule.

When answering this question, you want to be honest about your availability, but also emphasize that you are flexible. Your flexibility will be an asset when the company is deciding who to hire.

Key Takeaways

  • Take the time to prepare a response in advance. Determine what hours you can and cannot work and mention those hours when talking with the interviewer.
  • Always be honest about your availability. If you say you can work anytime and you are hired under that assumption, you must be prepared to follow through.
  • Unless you have an agreement that defines your schedule, the employer can change it at any time.

What the Interviewer Wants to Know

Especially for jobs that require a non-traditional schedule, employers look for applicants that will have the availability they need. The interviewer will want to know what days and hours you are available to work and how flexible you are around those days and hours. The way you answer this question will vary slightly depending on whether you are applying for a full-time job, a part-time position, or a shift job.

If you are applying for a shift job or a part-time job, an employer might ask this question because they want to see if you would be willing to work less popular days and hours (like nights and weekends).

If you are applying for a full-time job, the employer might want to know if you are willing to work hours and days outside of a typical workweek.

Note

Be aware that your employer may have the flexibility to change your schedule, even when you advise them of your availability to work.

How To Answer Interview Questions About Your Availability

When you answer interview questions about your work availability, be honest about any commitments that are not flexible. For example, if you must take your children to work in the morning, or if you cannot work evenings because you take a night class, say so. Do not promise you will be available if you know you will be unavailable.

If you are applying for a full-time job, you want to emphasize that you are willing and able to put in a full workweek and that you can occasionally work other hours as needed.

If you are applying for a part-time job, or a shift job, you will want to emphasize your flexibility even more. If there are certain days or hours you simply cannot work, say so. However, emphasize that you are open and flexible about any other days or hours the employer may need. It will show the employer that you will make your work a priority.

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3 Ways Answer Questions on Availability

Examples of the Best Answers

If you are asked questions about your work availability by an interviewer, these sample answers can help you develop your own response.

Example Answer #1

I expected, when I applied for this job, that it would require long hours. I knew it was full-time and then some. I realize that it is a salaried position and overtime is included in my salary. I enjoy my work and usually take work home with me anyway, so long hours don’t bother me. I’m used to that in my current position.

Why It Works: This is an appropriate answer for a full-time, salaried position if similar positions in similar companies usually require not only a regular workweek but also overtime hours. This answer would please the interviewer if there was concern about the applicant’s dedication to the job or ability or desire to work longer hours.

Example Answer #2

I am available to work Monday through Friday, and I am very flexible about the start and end times on those days. I'm willing to make occasional additional hours work with my schedule, as I really value my weekend time with my family. I'm more than willing to go above and beyond during the standard workweek.

Why It Works: This answer would work for either a full-time salaried or hourly job if you want to make it clear to the interviewer that you have a family and want to have some sort of work/life balance. It’s always best to make it clear up front what your limitations are regarding work availability.

Example Answer #3

I'm available during school hours while my children are at school, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. I am also available most weekends, especially during the day. Note: A prospective employer is not legally allowed to ask whether or not you have children, and you're not required to volunteer this information. 

Why It Works: This is an appropriate answer for either part-time or shift work. It clearly states the hours that you are available to work so there would be no misunderstandings.

Example Answer #4

I'm flexible and available just about any time you need me to work. I am simply looking forward to joining the team and helping whenever I am most needed.

Why It Works: You could use this answer, or something similar, with full-time, part-time, or shift work. Be aware that you are signaling to the interviewer that you are ready and willing to work whenever you are needed.

Example Answer #5

My schedule is flexible. I can take almost any shift you need me to take.

Why it Works: This is a clear, succinct answer appropriate for shift work.

Tips for Giving the Best Response

Research the company. Before your interview, research the company. Find out what the work availability requirements are for the employees who work similar jobs to the one you are applying for. You can use Glassdoor and LinkedIn to research many companies. 

Research the company culture. Just because the company only requires a certain number of hours per week doesn’t mean that the employees only work that number of hours.

Be honest. It’s important that you are honest about your work availability, but not to the point of being abrasive or abrupt. If you are asked about the hours you can work, answer the question directly and calmly.

Be brief. If you have prepared answers to frequently asked interview questions, you should be able to answer a question about your work availability briefly and succinctly.

What Not To Say

Don’t change your mind. If the interviewer says something about work hours that you are not prepared for, don’t get visibly nervous or change your mind about the hours you already know you can and cannot work. It’s important that you are absolutely honest with the interviewer about this issue.

Don’t try to negotiate. Don’t go to the job interview thinking that it’s possible you can negotiate working hours that are already set with the interviewer. You will waste both your time.

Possible Follow-Up Questions

  • Since you will be doing shift work, how do you handle your family life requirements? Best Answers
  • Would you be interested in this part-time job if, at some point in the future, it turned into full-time? Best Answers

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can an employer change my work schedule?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) doesn't regulate work schedules. Unless there is a prior agreement between an employee and an employer to work a set schedule, the employer can change the employee's schedule without notice or consent.

Do I get extra pay if I work nights or weekends?

Hourly employees must be paid one and a half times their regular rate of pay when they work over 40 hours in a week, but there is no requirement to pay extra for weekend or night work.

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Sources
The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Labor. "When Can an Employee’s Scheduled Hours of Work be Changed?"

  2. CareerOneStop. "Illegal Interview Questions."

  3. U.S. Department of Labor. "Is Extra Pay Required for Weekend or Night Work?"

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