“Do you take work home with you?” is a tricky question you may get during your next job interview. It's a good idea to think through your answer in advance. Get insight into why this question comes up during interviews, as well as tips for how to respond.
Why Employers Want to Know Your View on Working at Home
Employers ask this question for a variety of reasons. They might want to know that you are organized and can do all of your work in the allotted time. They also might want to make sure you maintain a decent work-life balance (which many employers believe will ultimately make you a happier, and thus better, employee).
However, some employers really are looking for people who make work the center of their lives, and want to assess just how dedicated to the job you will be. Even employers who do not expect in-depth work on projects after business hours may want employees to frequently check email from home. For some roles, a certain amount of after-hours work is built in. For instance, a social media manager for a late-night TV show may have monitor online comments after business hours.
Answering this question, therefore, requires you to know a bit about the particular company and job.
How to Answer
Before you answer, think about the company culture.
If you know the employer values work-life balance or time management skills, you will want to emphasize your ability to complete your work during work hours so that you can focus on family or other activities after work.
If the company requires employees to put in lots of extra hours and emphasizes the need for dedication and passion in the workplace, you may want to stress your willingness to bring projects home in order to ensure high-quality work.
If you aren’t sure of what the employer is looking for, the safest way to answer is to emphasize your organizational skills while also saying that, when necessary, you will take work home with you. Try not to be negative about bringing work home, since that may be something that is common at the company. However you respond, do be honest.
This question also provides you an opportunity to think about whether or not the job is the right fit for you. Always remember, an interview is a two-way street. Just as the employer is finding out what you would be like as a worker, you're discovering what it would like to work for the company. If the employer clearly wants to you take work home with you on a regular basis, but you value your free time, you may want to consider not taking the job. Instead, look for jobs at companies that value work-life balance.
- When I need to, bringing work home with me is not a problem. I realize the importance of meeting deadlines and getting work done on time, and sometimes that requires extra hours in the office or at home.
- I am extremely organized and skilled at budgeting my time. When I begin a project, I create a timeline for myself that allows me to complete the assignment in a timely manner without taking my work home. However, I understand that sometimes timelines change or issues come up, and I am always willing to take work home with me when that happens.
- When I begin a new project, I often choose to take work home with me in order to ensure that I complete the project for my client on time. However, maintaining regular time to spend with my family is very important to me, so I try to limit this to the early stages of projects and to urgent matters. I'm very aware of how speedily communications move in this industry. One email can be the difference between landing a pitch or having it go elsewhere. To that end, I try to be very responsive to email on my phone. I do a quick scan of my inbox several times a night when I'm home, and look at my email during my early morning workout, too. I always encourage my team to reach out if anything's urgent. And, for the few times a year when I totally unplug, I prep with a back-up network so that all team members know who to contact for feedback and answers.