What’s Your Availability?

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For jobs that are not standard 9-to-5 positions- one of the most common interview questions to be asked is- “What’s your availability?” Other variations of this question include “What hours are you looking for?” and “How soon can you begin working?” This question may also be presented as “What days are you available to work?” It is understandable why a lot of hiring managers ask this. They want to know if you will be reasonably available for whatever your position entails. Naturally, if you are going to be busy all the time- then you are not the right individual for the job.

The important thing to bear in mind is that hiring managers do not ask this solely to disqualify candidates. They are merely trying to get a sense of what your schedule is like so that they know if they will be able to depend on you. It is important that your response is honest.

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How to Answer the ‘What’s Your Availability’ Interview Question

Be Honest: You never want to lie for any interview questions- and that is especially important when you are discussing your availability. If your schedule is wide open and you are capable of working any day of the week or evenings- then that is fantastic and feel free to say it. However- if you do have a scheduling conflict- then you want to explain that. In the event you say your schedule is completely open and then once you are offered the job you mention you have something else going on- then the job offer may immediately be rescinded. Honesty also comes into play when you are discussing how soon you will be available to work. Do not say you are available as soon as possible if you will need to give your current job two weeks’ notice.

Talk About Conflicts- If You Have Any: In the event your schedule is not completely open- briefly mention what else you have going on. If you are a student- then you should explain what your class schedule is like. Many interviewees are hesitant to mention anything because they want to come across as the most attractive job candidate possible. However most hiring managers understand that you will have other things going on to an extent. If you are taking classes or have children to look after- then those are completely reasonable excuses for not always being available to work. You do not have to go into great detail unless the hiring manager requests additional information after asking- “What’s your availability?”

Be Mindful of Requesting Time Off: A class schedule is a consistent thing that remains the same from week to week. However- it is also possible that you have something coming up that you will need time off work for. If you will require time off in the near future- you need to be mindful of how you present it. For instance- if you will be starting school within the next couple of months- then you should mention that. Your schedule may be wide open now- but you want to make your new boss aware that it is going to change in the near future. However- if you have something like a camping trip planned with friends in the next couple of weeks and you are hoping for time off- then that might be something to avoid bringing up. You want to show that your priority is the position at hand.

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Sample ‘What’s Your Availability’ Interview Answers

1. I have classes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday and from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday and Thursday. Outside of that my schedule is completely open- and I am willing to work evenings and weekends. I also need to give my current job two weeks’ notice- but I would be able to give that to them as soon as possible should a job offer be extended.

2. I have a five-year-old son who will be starting kindergarten in the fall- so I will need to pick him up from school at 3 p.m. Monday through Friday starting in August and look after him in the evening. However I am available between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. during those days- and I would also be available on weekends because my husband will be off work to look after him during that time.

While these samples are examples of people who have conflicts- you should feel free to say that you are available all the time if your schedule is completely open. There is nothing wrong with giving a simple answer along the lines of- “I am available any time you need me.” Hopefully, these tips and samples make you feel a little better if you do have scheduling conflicts. “What’s your availability?” is one of the more straightforward interview questions to be asked- and you should be confident in your response.

Similar Interview Questions

1. What does it mean when a recruiter asks, “Do you have open availability?”
In terms of interviews, open availability means that your calendar doesn’t have current meeting conflicts and makes it easier for the hiring manager to schedule an interview. In terms of employment, open availability relates to your potential work schedule. With open availability, your employer has more flexibility to create your weekly schedule versus someone with additional responsibilities like a second job, school, or childcare.

2. What should I put on a job application regarding my date availability?
If you’re about to leave your current job for a new role, it’s hard to pinpoint an available start date. Since most careers require a minimum two-weeks notice, you can offer a start date two-weeks from your official acceptance of a new role. However, you should still verify your onboarding documents regarding resignation.

3. Do you need to put dates on your resume?
The chronological resume format does feature dates under the work experience and education sections. It’s normally good practice to include the start and end month and years on your resume, but there are exceptions to this rule. If you’re an older jobseeker afraid of unconscious age discrimination or a jobseeker with significant work gaps, you can opt for a functional or combination resume that highlights skills over a defined employment history.

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