Discussing work-life balance in an interview can be tricky. Many of us have priorities in life regarding flexible working or part-time work and the job interview is a good time to inform the hiring manager of your expectations. If you fail to convey what you truly want, a few months or a year down the road in your new job, you might not be satisfied with the working conditions.
First, as with any interview question, you want to be prepared. The best way to handle the work-life balance question during an interview is to do your research. Find out if the company you’re interviewing with has flexible hours, telecommuting opportunities or the option to work part-time. If the company doesn’t share your work-life balance outlook, it may not be the place you want to work.
- Use tools like LinkedIn for discovery of mutual points of contact. You may have done this to see who could refer you in for a particular role but consider reaching out to them to see if they will chat for a few minutes or share a cup of coffee? Depending on the degree of connection, ask about the culture or if it is a contact you know well, ask outright about work-life balance at the firm. Always assume any question asked in an informational interview will be passed along to the hiring manager.
- Glassdoor.com can be very useful as well. As a part of its rating system on companies, an individual score is assigned to work-life balance.
If the company seems like the right fit for your needs, CareerBright.com recommends asking questions around:
Working flexible hours
For example, can you start work early in the morning and leave around mid-afternoon covering around 8-9 hours of time at work?
Working from home
How feasible it is for you to work two to three days from home if that suits you the best?
Working as a full-time employee but on reduced hours
Can the company hire you as an employee who is available at work for only 60 to 80 percent of regular full time working hours? Make sure that you have asked about the company policies on retaining benefits if you work fewer hours than required in a full-time job.
Now for the big decision-When do I address work-life balance in the interview process? My answer? Deep in the interview process when it looks likely that an offer is in the works. You want them to fall in love with you and feel you are the person for the job but want to avoid asking the question after the fact that could have and likely should be explored before the offer is on the table.
When discussing this question, let your interviewer know that having a good work-life balance makes you more productive and will actually enhance your work performance. Most interviewers will appreciate your honest response, but remember; it’s not just about what you want but also what the company is looking for. Make sure that you come across as an efficient candidate and someone who they can rely on. Once they see the value in hiring you, they will be much more amenable to your requests.
At Menlo Partners, we want to help you handle any interview question to help you get the best job possible.
If you are searching for a role in accounting, administration, finance, human resources, marketing or operations in the San Francisco Bay Area, call us today. Menlo Partners Staffing, a Peninsula based temporary staffing and employment agency (650)752-6193.