Monday, May 14, 2007

Interviewing for a New Flexible Job

In the search for a new flexible job, how exactly do you know if you will find the schedule you need to balance work and life? Just as negotiating salary is considered unsuitable negotiation for the first interview, asking about flexible scheduling right off the bat could leave you at a disadvantage with potential employers. Remember, other candidates for the same job may be more willing and more available to work a traditional schedule. In her "Back to Work Toolkit", Nancy Collamer provides some questions appropriate for most any point of the interview process.

5 Questions to Ask When Searching For a Family-Friendly Company

1. In what ways is a career with your company better than one with your competitors? Listen for an answer that includes references to work/life balance or a friendly corporate culture. If an employer has a real commitment to work/life initiatives, this question should help prompt the interviewer to bring up specific examples of their policies in practice.

2. What do you enjoy most about working here?
This is always a good question because people love to talk about themselves! It’s also a wonderful way to learn more about the corporate culture without seeming overly eager to hear about options for flexibility. Listen for a response that includes quality of life indicators such as, “The company was incredibly supportive when I needed to take time off to pick up my adopted baby from Russia” or “This is the first place I’ve worked where the emphasis is placed on getting work done instead of on face-time.”

3. What is the largest single problem facing your staff (department) now? In general, requests for flexible schedules don’t fare well in chaotic situations that require everybody to be in constant crisis management mode. Analyze this response carefully to determine if somebody working a flexible schedule can reasonably accommodate the challenges facing the business.

4. What types of benefits does the company offer? Not all work/life benefits are created equal. Flexible scheduling, assistance with daycare and onsite parenting workshops are all welcome initiatives that demonstrate a company understands that you have a life outside of work. But other so-called “benefits,” like onsite catered lunches and dry-cleaning drop-off services may be thinly veiled attempts to compensate for a very demanding work environment.

5. What qualities are you looking for in the candidate who fills this position? Try to determine if there is more emphasis placed on results than on face time. Is your manager willing to allow you the freedom to determine how and where to get a job done, even if that means you will sometimes need to work at home?

Tips excerpted from “The Back-to-Work Toolkit: A Guide for Comeback Moms,” available for purchase at

Read the entire article at the Jobs and Moms Blog.

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