How to Answer Interview Questions About Shift Work

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The ability to change up shifts or work through the night, whether in a hospital or a shipping warehouse, is a special skill of its own. People who work at night may have trouble balancing their work and family lives, let alone their sleep, health, and well-being. Energy can diminish if you're not accustomed to late hours, weekend work or all-nighters, and morale can wane if you don't feel like a part of the company's daily activities.

Shift work often requires a great deal of flexibility with a worker's schedule, too. One week, you may work all morning shifts, followed by another week of night shifts. It can be challenging for maintaining relationships, doing chores, and arranging childcare. Employers are well aware of these challenges, and look to hire people who can handle this unpredictability. 

Tips for Answering Questions About Shift Work 

Consider your personal situation carefully before answering. If you are unwilling — or unable — to work certain shifts, it's best to be straightforward in your response. That way, you and the employer won't have any unhappy surprises when schedules are issued. 

Consider mentioning the reason that you would be unavailable during certain hours. Be brief! No need to share a complicated story. You can simply say, "I take care of an elderly relative after 5 p.m. on weekdays, so would not be available for shifts starting then." or "I can work any shift if I have enough notice to arrange child care." 

On the other hand, if your hours are flexible, or you're comfortable working unpredictable hours or nights and weekends, make sure to say so in your response. 

Some questions you may receive about shift work are: 

  • How do you feel about shift work? 
  • Are you comfortable with shift work and a changing schedule? 
  • Do you have experience with your work hours changing from week to week? 
  • Are you available to work nights and weekends?  
  • Are there any times when you would be unavailable to be on the schedule? 

Sample Answers

Here are sample answers to the job interview question about your interest in working different shifts, taking into account different values and outside commitments.

  • Absolutely. I am single, live alone, and I don't mind keeping hours that take me out of the nine to five routine.
  • As long as I would know at the start of a placement what the hours would be, I would be willing to work any shift. I would prefer to keep one shift throughout each placement.
  • I am really only available during regular business hours as I have an elderly family member who I need to care for during other times.
  • I wouldn't prefer to work at night and weekends but during peak workloads, I am ready and available to work whenever you need me.
  • Night and weekends are the only time I can spend with my family and that's very important to me. But in the case of an urgent situation, if you need me then I will definitely be available.
  • I enjoy night work because to me it's a very peaceful environment. However, I need my weekends to refresh and recharge.
  • If there is an urgent need or an emergency I'll definitely work whatever shifts you need; the company's growth and success are mine as well.
  • I'll definitely work whatever shift is needed because I feel a responsibility towards the company to complete the necessary work.
  • I have no problem working different shifts as needed. I consider organization and my coworkers to be my family, and if they need me, I'll be there. 
  • I can work any shift you require; it's my duty to be there when you need me.
  • I would be happy to work night and weekend shifts if you have a proper security guard in place.
  • I am not comfortable with night shifts due to safety concerns but am happy to work any other shift as needed.
  • I'm a self-starter and I'm confident making decisions during any shift.
  • I can stay focused for a long period of time without getting tired, so I'm available for any shift.
  • My schedule is very flexible, and I'm open to whatever shift you offer.
  • I do value a work-life balance, so while I'm available for any shift, I would like to create a consistent schedule so I can make other plans.