As a career coaching veteran for over 20 years, many professionals have sought my advice on how to ask about work-life balance in a job interview. It's a difficult question to ask without it being a red flag. Still, there's definitely a way you can find this information out in a job interview.
Asking about work-life balance in a job interview starts with using emotional intelligence to avoid being overly blunt. You also don't want this to be the first question you ask in a job interview.
When a hiring manager asks, "Do you have any questions for us?" at the end of a job interview, the very first question you ask says a lot about you.
I'll give you an example. I was hiring for my company at one point, and I had two candidates. The first candidate came in and when I said, "Do you have any questions for me?" she replied, "Yeah, what's it pay?" Meanwhile, the pay was posted in the job description. So that told me the only thing she cared about was the money.
The second candidate came in and when I said, "Do you have any questions for me?" she said, "Yes, can you tell me how this job will impact the success of the organization as a whole? How will I know that I'm doing a good job?" This was a very thoughtful question. I knew she wanted to understand how to create value so she could be successful. It was also a strategic question on her part. But I loved it.
Best Interview Questions To Ask To Learn About A Company's Work-Life Balance
When it's your turn to ask questions in a job interview, after you've asked a few strategic questions, you would transition to asking about the company's work-life balance. Here are some great examples of questions you could ask the hiring manager:
- Can you tell me about your company's strategies for work-life balance?
- Can you give me some examples of how the company ensures work-life balance?
- Can you tell me the company's policies on working outside the normal hours? For example, will I be expected to work nights or weekends? Can you walk me through those expectations?
These are totally fair, positive questions to ask on the subject of work-life balance. By asking these questions, you're making the assumption that they support work-life balance and giving them the opportunity to elaborate.
Now, the hiring manager can say whatever they want. They could lie to you in this interview. So my advice is if you get a lot further along in the process and you're still wondering about work-life balance, ask to speak to a peer. This is especially true if you get the job offer and you haven't met any of your potential co-workers. You can say, "I'm really excited about this job and I want to accept on the spot. But I was hoping to talk to somebody who would be my peer and also just get a sense of the job from them." That way, you can talk to a potential co-worker and ask them:
- Can you tell me about work-life balance here?
- Do you find yourself having to work nights or weekends very often? If so, what are the circumstances?
- What can I expect at this job?
That peer can be more forthcoming with you. And if they're not forthcoming, you can usually read people and tell if they're hiding something or not being honest.
So find the right spot to ask about work-life balance in the interview. Frame your questions in a way that isn't too negative. Most importantly, if you're still not getting the right vibe, ask to meet other people in the organization. Ask to meet your peers, and then ask them those same questions and pay attention to how they respond. This is how we start to look under the hood of a company to figure out what's going on.
Finally, there are websites you can go to that have anonymous reviews of companies and what it's like to work there. Make sure you visit those as well. Do your homework. Be careful. You don't want to be sucked into a bad job where it's not what you expected it to be. So make sure you research the company beforehand and ask about work-life balance in your job interview—the right way.
Good luck, and go get 'em!
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