A couple of decades ago, it would have been seen as bad form or even rude to ask about flexible working arrangements during an interview with a potential employer.
Over the last 10 years or more, though, flexible working patterns and arrangements have become more commonplace and many companies and organisations are considering it.
In a recent study it was found that in the region of 9 in 10 employers would welcome discussions about flexible working with employees they took on, though many just don’t mention it from the get-go.
You may wonder, if it is becoming more of a viable option with many managers, should you broach the subject during an interview?
Above all else, you need to determine how important it is for you to have a flexible working arrangement. If it is a dealbreaker, then it is important to be honest and completely open about it from the interview stage.
If you don’t, you could spend weeks or months going through a gruelling application process only to discover the company you were interested in working for doesn’t offer flexible working arrangements.
How to Work Out If You Should Ask or Not During Interviews
The easiest way to figure out if it’s a good time to mention your desire to work flexibly during the interview is by conducting research into the company.
Figure out what the culture is within their organisation.
- Is there a precedent for flexible working?
- Do many of their staff members work flexibly?
- Is it mentioned on their website or any other of their promotional and information materials?
If there is mentions of flexible working arrangements that are easy to find, it might be a good idea to mention your desires and wants during the interview.
If there are still uncertainties, it might be worth being patient and waiting for your second interview. Second interviews are a sign the employer is interested in hiring you and they feel like a good point in the process to field questions.
It’s important to be aware that, for some employers, it can be off putting when a potential employee mentions flexible working.
If it is so crucial to your situation that you have a flexible working arrangement though, you need to mention it and if they are put off by the idea, then you need to look elsewhere.
Alternatives to Asking At Interview Stage
What if you decide you are definitely not going to broach the subject during your interviews? You may want to wait until you have been offered the position.
You could use the fact you want a flexible working arrangement as part of negotiating the terms of your employment.
This could work because you know they are interested in you and want to hire you. Therefore, they may be willing to do what it takes to get you on the team.
The best foot forward in this regard is to make your case for it and point out not just how it will benefit you, but the business too.
If you have experience, describe how it worked and how you made it successful. Discussing any concerns they have with flexible working may be helpful.
If you really don’t feel comfortable broaching the subject during the interview stage, you could wait and request it once you are in the job.
Once you have been employed for more than 26 weeks, you have the legal right to ask for a flexible working arrangement.
This might be the best option if you can wait, as your employer gets to know you as a person and employee over the first 26 weeks. As they see and trust the quality of your work, it makes the topic of flexible working easier for both parties.