Would it be a problem if we asked you to work overtime/weekends?

  | James Innes

     

Would it be a problem if we asked you to work overtime/evenings/weekends?

Alternative and related questions:

Would it be a problem for you taking work home occasionally at the weekend?
Do you have a preference for working regular days and hours?
How do you feel about the amount of overtime this role demands?

The meaning behind the question:

In some jobs it is going to be essential for you to work unusual hours – and if that’s the case the interviewer probably wouldn’t even be asking you the question. In other lines of work there will be an unspoken expectation that you will be prepared to put in longer hours than the average. Generally, an interviewer is most likely to be asking you this question if working overtime/evenings/weekends isn’t in fact the norm for your job. They want to identify how flexible you are in terms of accommodating their needs even when it might be to your own detriment – in other words how committed you are to your work.

Your answer:

It is of course entirely up to you how you feel about working above and beyond ‘normal’ office hours. There will be numerous factors you have to weigh up and the decision is yours alone.

Once you have established your position on the matter, honesty is very much the best policy. Unfortunately, it may well count against you if you’re unwilling – or quite simply unable – to work long hours. But don’t let yourself be talked into accepting working conditions which you know you won’t be happy with unless you really are prepared to live up to your promises.

Whatever your stance, try to communicate your opinion in as reasonable and positive a manner as possible. Even if you aren’t keen on overtime, you might be prepared to offer a compromise as in the example below.

Example:

I’m reasonably flexible and if business needs are such that it would be advantageous for me to worker longer hours – and even weekends – then, depending on my other commitments, I would certainly be prepared to do so. However, I would hope that this would be the exception rather than the rule. I do believe in a life outside of work and, while my job is clearly very important to me, I would generally like to keep my working hours within normal bounds. In my current role I have had to put in some overtime during especially busy periods – and I have had no objections to doing so. However, I am efficient and productive and I generally manage to complete my work without having to resort to overtime.

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