The purpose of the interview question “What’s your availability?” is to understand if your schedule is compatible with what the company needs. It’s a pretty straightforward question, but there are some points you’ll want to consider when answering, all of which will help show you’re a strong candidate.
If you are interviewing for a salaried position, the interviewer wants to know that you are able to put in the hours necessary to complete the work. Some companies require employees to clock in and out daily; other companies are less rigid with their requirements. In either case, there will be times when you may need to work beyond your normal schedule to complete work, and the employer wants to know if you are willing to do this.
Companies that operate 24/7 or divide the work day into shifts, such as retail establishments, want to make sure you will be available and interested in working during the hours needed.
If you’ve researched the company, you should know the hours or shifts the company operates on, and what the attendance requirements are. Another clue is the job advertisement. You may see job advertisements that request candidates be flexible. What the company is really saying is that they want candidates who can change the days and hours available to work based on scheduling needs.
Companies don’t want to hire someone who leaves for the day without finishing the work. This question is not only about your schedule availability, but about your worth ethic and willingness to perform the job well. Flexibility is a key attribute employers are looking for when it comes to availability.
You’ll want to make sure you’re prepared to answer this question truthfully and in the best possible manner. Keeping the following points in mind should help.
Include These Points in Your Answer
Your answer should convince the hiring manager that you are able to work the scheduled hours and that you are a good fit for the position.
- If you have time commitments, such as classes or another job, give a brief explanation about what they are and why they are important.
- Few people want to work the night shift, weekends, or holidays, so if you are interested in working the less-popular shifts, this could work to your advantage. Be sure to let the interviewer know where you stand here.
- Let the interviewer know that you are ready, willing, and able to put in extra time to do the job well.
- If you submitted a cover letter with your application, review it to see if you mentioned anything about availability.
- Make sure that you are truthful about the days and hours you are available.
Don’t Include These Points in Your Answer
There are certain things you want to avoid saying when answering the “What’s Your Availability” question, as they may hurt your chances of getting the job. Make sure that you avoid the following mistakes when providing a response.
- Avoid saying that you will be able to work when you really aren’t available.
- Don’t use the answering of this question as a way to ask for time off that you will need in the next few months.
- As you answer this question, don’t be defensive when explaining your circumstances.
- Be cautious about discussing future vacation plans or scheduling conflicts during the early phases of the interview. It could persuade the interviewer to move forward with another candidate who has no scheduling issues.
Just remember to carefully plan your answer, and always remember this: the interviewer wants an honest, straightforward answer from you.
Here are several examples of good answers:
I’m pretty flexible and available in regards to when you’d need me to work. I am very interested in this job and look forward to working with your team and helping out as needed.
My schedule is flexible, and I’m available for the shifts you need covered. I actually like working evening shifts and weekend shifts, so I’d be happy to cover those whenever you may need me.
I am in classes on Mondays and Wednesdays from 1pm to 3pm, but I’m available before and after that. I can also work weekends.
Remember, the interviewer is not trying to disqualify you for the job based solely on your availability. Rather, the interviewer is simply trying to find out more about when you are available to work so that they can fill the position with someone who will be there when they need them to be.