When to Ask for Flexibility During Interview Process

When to Ask for Flexibility During Interview Process

This question was posed through our “Ask a Coach” form, where you can ask questions, too.

Question:

Hello! I am about to interview for a job after being a full time stay at home mom for the past 4.5 years. I’ve kept my skills very relevant and current during that time through freelancing and other volunteer roles. I’m very ready to return to more formal employment but still want flexibility to be present for my young children. When would be a good time to ask about options for flexibility in the interview process? How do I bring it up and what could I negotiate with, especially if I don’t have any history with the organization yet? ~Andrea

Answer:

Congratulations on the interview! And good for you for keeping your skills sharp during your career break. Now that you are at the interview stage, your top priority is getting the offer. Spend your time communicating your relevant skills and accomplishments so you can demonstrate the value you will bring to their organization.

Wait until after you have the offer before negotiating terms like flexible work options. Bringing that topic up too early in the interview process may make you look like you are putting your needs above the company’s. It’s important to look at the interview from the employer’s perspective. He/she has three main objectives on his mind when interviewing you:

  1. Can you do the job (and excel at it)?
  2. Are you a fit for their company and department?
  3. Do they like you and would they want to work with you? Spend your time in the interview conveying that you meet all of those objectives.

So, in terms of the negotiation, I would suggest doing some research beforehand. Is this company family friendly and do they have a history of granting employees flexible work options?

You can do this by looking on their website to see if they have job postings for flexible or part time work, or checking the Maybrooks database of companies that work for working families. You can network within the company and find out from employees what their experience has been with flexibility. Through this research you can assess whether or not bringing up flexibility would be well received or a deal breaker.

You should also prepare yourself that when you negotiate flexibility, the answer could be “no.” Think about your priorities and whether or not this would be a deal breaker for you (i.e., are you willing to walk away from the opportunity?), or could the experience at the company be something you would be willing to forgo flexibility for a while so you can get new work experience on your resume, prove yourself at the company, and perhaps ask for flexibility down the line. All things to consider before the negotiation.

I hope this helps answer your question. Good luck with the interview! ~Career Coach Jennifer Chow Bevan

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