How To Answer 'What Is Your Availability To Work?': A Guide
Updated 1 March 2023
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In a job interview, hiring managers assess your compatibility with the job role and the company culture. They may ask about your availability to work to evaluate if it meets their requirements. Preparing for such questions before the interview helps you become confident in your answers and provides you with ample time to consider your commitments. In this article, we discuss why employers ask about your availability to work and take you through steps to answer, 'What is your availability to work?' in your next interview, along with examples to help you draft yours effectively.
Why Do Employers Ask, 'What Is Your Availability To Work?'
Employers ask "What is your availability to work?" to verify that you can commit to the work hours required by the job role. It helps them understand your suitability for the position and aids in deciding your candidature. If your available work hours do not comply with the firm's preferred job requirements, you may not fit the job role, despite your work expertise. Checking your availability to work is common practice when you interview with a company to work part-time, freelance or as a consultant.
There are several ways a recruiter may ask you this question. Some popular forms include:
How soon can you start work?
How many hours can you work per day?
What hours are you comfortable working?
What are your ideal working hours?
Are you available to work over the weekends?
Are you comfortable working night shifts?
Are there days or times when you are not available for work?
Are you okay working late evenings occasionally?
What hours are you available each day?
Are you available to come to the office every week?
Related: Show Hiring Managers That You Are Ready to Work
How To Answer, 'What Is Your Availability To Work?'
Here are the steps you can follow to prepare an answer to the interview question, 'What is your availability to work?':
1. Review your schedule
Before the interview, draft your daily and weekly schedule to understand your commitments that require your attention in the future. These events may recur and affect your work hours. While a schedule is dynamic, an overview of it helps you identify conflicts and limitations. It helps you work with your future employers to minimise its impact on your work. Understanding your schedule helps in making practical commitments for future events.
Related: Reliability Vs. Availability: Definitions And Comparison
2. Understand the job role
Every job role has varying demands in terms of work hours and responsibilities. It is essential to understand the specific job requirements before you commit to your availability to work. You may read the job description to estimate the work commitment that the company may expect. It helps you plan your schedule and prepare your answer before the interview and alter it if required.
Related: Job Description Vs. Job Specification: An In-Depth Guide
3. Understand the company work hours and culture
Research the work culture to understand the job requirements and expectations. Understand future job role schedules to evaluate if the role suits you. For example, some professions require you to work in shifts, over the weekend or overtime. Consider these factors before the interview to determine what may suit you the best.
Related: Nature Of Work Vs. Level Of Work: What Is The Difference?
4. Emphasise your availability
During the interview, communicate the hours you can work. This helps the hiring managers approximate the output you may provide after getting hired and if that fits the role or company requisites. Be clear about your availability to work over the weekends, overtime work or any other concerns during the interview. Clarity during the interview reflects your personality and the ability to manage time effectively to provide quality work.
5. Provide an honest answer
It is vital to be confident in your answer and communicate your terms and concerns without hesitation. The commitments you make during the interview set expectations of the recruiter on your availability to work for the company. Recruiters understand conflicts in schedules, for instance, if you are a parent or have dependents to look after.
If your schedule is not entirely open, explain the reasons to the recruiter. Ensure you keep the conversation brief while communicating the necessary details to substantiate your situation. A confident answer shows you are aware of the responsibilities the job entails and your ability to prioritise your time and activities and manage time for work successfully.
Related: What Is Organisational Culture?
6. Share your plans
You may have pre-defined commitments that require you to take time off work. Discuss these with your recruiter to negotiate your work commitments during such periods. Sharing your plans helps you understand the company policies for medical, education or leisure. It allows you to make an informed decision about your future association with the company. It aids recruiters in being mindful of your commitments while considering you for the role.
7. Be willing to negotiate
The recruiter may negotiate the work hours depending on your commitments. Try to listen patiently to their point of view carefully. Remember to make the most of the conversation and define a work availability that works well for you and the company. While an interview may seem overwhelming, it is vital to stay calm and not commit additional hours that you may not be able to deliver. You can also ask for some time from the recruiter if you think you require time to think if you can manage the working hours that the company prefers.
Related: How To Reduce Work Hours: A Guide With Practical Tips
Example Answers About Availability To Work
Here are some ways in which you may answer your availability to work in different scenarios:
Example 1: Family commitments
"I am available between 9:00 am and 3:30 pm from Monday to Friday. My daughter is in the second grade, and I pick her up after school and take her to extracurricular classes. I am also available to work over the weekends in case of any urgent requirements."
The above is a suitable answer when you plan to work in shifts or part time. It clearly states your priorities and commitments. It also shows your commitment to your role.
Example 2: Currently employed
"I am currently employed at Navan Corp. and require providing them with four weeks' notice. I can start serving the same after receiving a job offer. After completing my notice period, I am available to work every day, including weekends."
If you are a working professional and require serving a notice period, you can adopt the above answer or create your own based using this as a reference. It informs your new employer about the compliances you require meeting and provides a necessary explanation. It also demonstrates your work ethic and ability to be transparent with the recruiting manager.
Example 3: Shift hours
"I have a flexible schedule and no family commitments. So, I am available to work on all days, including the weekends. I am also comfortable working night shifts."
The above answer emphasises your ability to accommodate any urgent or other requirement. It conveys you can also offer similar levels of efficiency at all times. It is straightforward and adds value to your candidature and increases the chances of getting shortlisted.
Related: How To Crack A Job Interview
Example 4: Future commitments
"Next month, I am not available on the 11th and 12th because of prior commitments. Apart from that, I am available on all days. I can begin work immediately."
It is good practice to share details about plans decided before the interview. This shows that you are reliable and responsible. It substantiates your commitment to your engagements and the work you do.
Example 5: Available immediately
"Currently, I do not have any other commitments and can join work immediately. I am willing to work according to the work hours expected by the company for all employees. I understand the job role and am available to work late evenings or during the weekends during peak seasons or for urgent assignments."
The above answer helps establish your willingness to comply with company policies and states the work hours you can deliver. It is brief and comprises essential details. It also conveys that you can work overtime to meet deadlines if required.
Related: How To Answer 'What Is Your Work Style?' (With Examples)
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