Open Availability on a Job Interview: Here’s What It Means

During a job interview, you’ll probably be asked, “What hours or days are you available to work?” Some recruiters will even ask if you have open availability. These are just some of the most common job interview questions you may encounter.

Most of the time, they ask these questions because they want to determine how flexible you are. So, when giving your answer, you must be honest while emphasizing your flexibility.

We understand how challenging it is to answer questions about availability. So, in this post, we’re going to give you some tips on how to respond depending on the kind of job you’re applying for. We’ll also share the best examples of availability answers.

Open Availability on a Job Interview: Here’s What It Means

Why Do Employers Want to Know About Your Availability?

As we’ve mentioned, employers or recruiters ask about an applicant’s availability to know if they are open to what the position requires. They can determine if you’re not suitable for the role if you’re unable to commit to what the job needs. Aside from learning how to write a resume, you should also determine if your availability aligns with the position.

The most common question related to the topic that recruiters ask is, “What is your availability?” However, you may encounter other variants of the question:

  • How soon can you start?
  • Do you have an open availability?
  • What are your preferred working hours?
  • Do you mind working the graveyard shift?
  • Are there times or days that you cannot work?
  • How many days within a week can you commit to us?
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Tips on Answering Questions About Availability

Learning how to write a cover letter is one thing but knowing how to answer questions about availability is a different ballpark. Being vague about your availability can make or break your chance of securing the position you want. So, here are some tips on how you can discuss your availability in a professional manner.

Answer Honestly

According to a Checkster survey, 78% of job seekers lie during the hiring process. You wouldn’t want to be part of that statistic.

No matter what questions are asked during an interview, you should always be honest. Of course, don’t say you have an open availability when you can’t commit to it. However, if you can work during the evenings and any day of the week, don’t hesitate to say that.

On the other hand, if you want to follow a strict schedule because of other commitments, you should explain that professionally. What if this is your case and yet you said that you have an open availability? Once you start working, you’re going to struggle with scheduling.

When you’re discussing your availability, it’s always important to be honest. If you need to give a two weeks’ notice at your current job, you shouldn’t say that you can start as soon as possible.

Learn About the Work Hours

Before you even submit an application, you can research some information about the company online. Learn about the standard requirements of the position, including the position’s work schedule.

Check if the position involves working overtime, in the evenings, or on weekends. Learning about these details will help you decide whether the job is ideal for your needs and schedule.

Discuss Scheduling Conflicts

As we’ve mentioned in the first point, you need to be honest about restrictions in your schedule. Briefly discuss anything else that you have going on. For instance, if you’re studying, you should explain your class schedule.

Many job candidates wonder how soon they will get an HR interview feedback without considering if the role will conflict with their other commitments.

The truth is a lot of hiring managers understand if an applicant has other things going on. If you’re looking after your children or taking classes, you have acceptable reasons for not having an open availability. Also, there’s no need to get into the details about your other commitments.

Reiterate Your Availability

When you’re expressing what you can bring to the plate, remember to emphasize your availability. If you have open availability, don’t hesitate to say that you can work overtime and any day or shift. Hiring managers will see your flexibility as your eagerness to take on the job. Of course, once you’re hired, don’t forget to show your appreciation by sending a thank-you email.

Talk About Your Future Plans

If you have plans that may affect your schedule in the future, you should discuss them during the interview. Let’s say you have a medical appointment that will require you to take some weeks off. Don’t forget to mention that to the recruiter.

Another example would be plans of taking evening classes within a few months. Naturally, when that time comes, you won’t be available to work during the evenings. Remember to share that information with your new employer.

Examples of the Best Answers About Availability

If an interviewer asks you questions about your work availability, you can develop your own response using the sample answers below.

Sample 1: Long Hours

When I applied for this position, I knew that I was am expected to work long hours. I understood that it is a full-time job that also requires overtime. Since this is a salaried position, I already know that overtime pay is already included in my salary. Besides, I usually bring work home. So, logging in for long hours won’t bother me.

If you’re applying for a salaried, full-time position, this is the appropriate response. It’s also perfect for companies that require overtime hours. The interviewer will be pleased with this answer because it shows your dedication to the role.

Sample 2: School and Full-Time Work

I can work from Monday through Friday. However, I take night classes. So, while I’m flexible with the shift start time, I need to be done by 6 PM. If needed, I can work extra hours on the weekends.

If you need your evenings to be free for your classes, this is the ideal response. While you have something else going on, it still demonstrates your dedication to the job. After all, you’re saying that you’re willing to work outside regular hours.

Sample 3: Responsibilities with Children

I can work between 9 AM to 3 PM while my children are at school, Monday through Friday. During most weekends, I can work during the day.

If you’re applying for a shift or part-time work, this is the appropriate answer. It’s worth noting that employers are not legally allowed to ask if you have children. So, you’re not bound to disclose this information.

However, you should still state the hours you’re available to work. This way, everything’s clear about the schedule.

Sample 4: Weekends Off for Family

I am flexible about the start and end times of my shift, and I am available during the weekdays. However, I’d appreciate having my weekends off to spend time with my family. During the week, I don’t mind working beyond the regular work hours.

This answer illustrates the value you put on work-life balance. Even so, you’re still demonstrating your eagerness to take on the role. After all, you’re mentioning your willingness to work long hours during the week.

Sample 5: Open Availability

I am open to any shift and any workday. I am excited to join the team and contribute whenever I am most needed.

This answer is ideal for a shift, full-time, or part-time work. However, just know that this response tells the interviewer that you are flexible and that you are eager to work whenever you are needed.

Sample 6: Flexible Work Hours for Managers

I know that as a manager, I am expected to work long hours. I don’t mind working overtime because I usually take some tasks home. In my current position, that’s already something I’m doing on a regular basis. I am simply looking forward to joining the team.

If you’re applying for a full-time managerial position, this is the ideal answer. The interviewer would feel assured that you are committed to the job or that you are willing to work for extended hours.

Sample 7: Graveyard Shift

I am willing to work on graveyard shifts whenever necessary. My previous job required me to work between 9 PM to 4 AM. While it was challenging for me at first, I developed a routine and got used to the schedule. Eventually, I realized that I work better in a quiet environment. Besides, the night shifts have fewer distractions. As a result, I was able to accomplish more.

This response demonstrates your willingness to work night shifts. It also shows that you’ve already worked on that schedule. Besides, it emphasizes your preferences to the interviewer. By telling your potential employer that you will accept any work schedule they provide, they will be eager to offer you the role.

What Should You Answer for “Date Available” on an Application?

Your answer under this section will depend on the earliest date you can begin working. So, consider whether you need to give a two weeks’ notice before quitting your current job.

If you can start working right away, you can respond by writing, “available immediately”. However, if you need some time, you should put the specific date that you’ll be free to accept the new role.

Summing Up

If the interviewer discusses a work schedule that you’re not prepared for, don’t change your mind about your availability. You shouldn’t also look visibly uncomfortable. You should be honest about your schedule and let the interviewer know that their preferred work hours will be a conflict for you.

In any case, your best option is to be transparent. If the company is in desperate need of your services, they may make some special arrangements for you.

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