Interview Question: What Hours Are You Available?

Woman interviewing another woman
••• Blend Images - Ariel Skelley/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

“What hours are you available?” is a common interview question for temporary jobspart-time jobs, and shift work. An employer will ask this question to get a sense of whether you will work with the company’s schedule. Sometimes an employer will ask a more specific question, such as whether you are willing to work nights and/or weekends, or how many hours a week you are available.

How to Answer Interview Questions About What Hours You Are Available

When answering this question, be honest about your schedule, but also emphasize your flexibility. You want to show that you are willing to fill the hours they need and that you can be a team player.

How to Prepare

If you are interviewing for a part-time job, temporary position, or shift work, think carefully about your schedule beforehand. Make note of particular days or shifts you know you cannot do. If the job has flexible hours, also think about how many hours a week you are willing to work.

Try to limit the number of scheduling conflicts you have. An employer will likely be sympathetic to family, education, health, or religious conflicts, but they will probably not care if your work schedule conflicts with a personal hobby. Try to remain as flexible as possible, and be open to rescheduling some of your personal activities.

Also, think about the particular job and company when you are considering schedule options. If this is a seasonal job, for example, you likely won’t get away with saying you cannot work weekends and holidays.

How to Answer

Be flexible, but honest: You want to demonstrate that you are flexible and willing to serve the company in whatever way they need. That being said, don’t lie about your availability. If there are certain weekdays or shifts you know you absolutely cannot do, say so. If you lie now, it will only hurt your chances of getting and then keeping the job later on.

Be reasonable about schedule conflicts: While you do not necessarily need to go into great detail when explaining a reason for a schedule conflict, you might briefly mention the reason for your unavailability, especially if it is related to professional, educational, or family conflicts. For example, if you are a student applying for a part-time job, you might mention that you are in school during certain hours.

However, an even better way to answer the question is to emphasize when you are available, and the days and times that you are flexible. This is a great way to put a positive spin on the question.

Examples of the Best Answers

Here are a few basic answers that outline different schedule scenarios. These can be tailored to fit your situation, or you can use them as inspiration to craft your answers.

  • I’m available during school hours while my children are at school, 8:30 a.m.- 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. I have a network of friends and family members who stand ready to watch them if they’re sick or it’s a teachers’ workday or vacation. I am also willing and able to work on weekends. I would love to cover any shifts during those times.
  • I am flexible and available almost any time you would need me to work. I am looking forward to making this temporary position a full-time job for as long as your company needs me.
  • As a college student, I have morning classes on Monday and Wednesday until 11:00, as well as a seminar that meets every other Monday, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., but I'm flexible about working any other hours you would like, including nights and weekends.
  • I am available to work at any time during the business week, including evenings, and I can also easily arrange to come in on Saturdays and Sunday afternoons. My Sunday mornings, however, are reserved for church.
  • I’m happy to work any time you need me, including on weekends, but I prefer evening shifts. My partner works evenings, and if I could regularly work an evening shift as well, this would allow us to spend more time together. Of course, I’d be available to work overtime during the day as needed.

By demonstrating your willingness to adjust, as much as you can, to your employer’s needs, you will set yourself apart as a potential employee dedicated to the company’s success.