How to Answer “What Is Your Date of Availability?” in 5 Steps
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Employers ask "What is your date of availability" because they want to verify that you are reasonably open to what your position involves and when you can begin working. Your availability may determine your fitness for the position. Understanding how to answer this question can help you consider whether your schedule and the new position's time requirements align. In this article, we show you how to answer the question in five easy steps.
Why do employers ask, "what is your date of availability?"
"What is your date of availability?" is one of the most frequently asked interview or application questions. Employers might also ask variations of this question, for example:
"How soon can you begin working?"
"What hours are you looking to work?"
"What days are you available to work?"
"What are your ideal working hours?"
"Are there days or times you know you cannot work?"
"What hours are you available each day?"
"Are you okay with possibly working late evening hours?"
How to answer "What is your availability"?
You can follow these steps to explain your availability during your interview:
1. Research the company hours
You can research information about the company you apply to on the Internet and look for the standard job requirements. Find out about your future position's schedule to determine whether your schedule matches the position. It's important to research the position before you interview so that you're not surprised by the position's requirements. An employer might even appreciate that you took extra time to research the position. For example, verify if the job requires you to work in the evening, on weekends or if it involves overtime. A flexible schedule that can meet these kinds of demands might be more attractive to a potential employer.
2. Review your schedule
Before the interview, make sure you take a look at your schedule to identify future commitments you can't cancel. Note any recurring events that could interfere with your availability to work. For example, if you need to pick up your children from school or sports practice, if you have classes or already registered for a seminar in the coming months. If you have any of these commitments, inform your interviewer for maximum clarity. An employer may be more willing to amend the schedule if you're a highly qualified candidate who's open about their commitments.
3. Emphasize your availability
During the interview, emphasize your availability when you speak and express your offer of quality work. If you are flexible, explain that you can work every day of the week and additional hours if necessary. If you can only work in the evening or weekend, tell your employer so there's no confusion when you receive your work schedule. Flexibility can be a great attribute in any industry, as needs often arise for extra hours and labour. Your employer might offer additional compensation for extra effort like bonuses or vacation time and you can potentially increase your salary with overtime work.
4. Give an honest answer
Honesty is important during an interview, especially when the question is about your availability. Your prospective employer uses the availability you provide to create a schedule that works for everyone, so provide an honest answer. If you can commit to absolute flexibility or on-call work, tell them. Avoid telling a potential employer that you're always available if you think the position's hours might interfere with prior commitments or home life.
Moreover, hiring managers usually understand scheduling conflicts issues. Having a family to look after or take classes are valid reasons for not being available to work at any time of the day. Tell them if certain days or hours don't work for you. Then explain that you are open and ready to work during the other hours. Doing so shows that you can prioritize your work.
5. Share your future plans
There might be a situation in your future requiring some time off. For example, it could be a necessary medical appointment scheduled long ago or your graduation celebration. You can also be in a situation where your schedule is entirely open now but may change in the future. For example, if you plan to take evening classes in a couple of months, you won't be available to work in the evening. Transparency helps the employer respect your time from the beginning of your professional relationship, which can make future time-off requests or scheduling conflicts far easier to work with.
Here are five examples of potential answers to the question "what is your date of availability and general availability?"
Example 1: Student
"I am currently taking classes full-time at the university. My classes are on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I'm available after 3:00 on those days and available from 9:00 until 5:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I can begin work next Thursday, September 15th."
An employer might want to know what your education schedule is so they can schedule your work time around your education. You can also exclude certain blocks of time that you might use for studying or coursework outside of the classroom.
Example 2: Interruptive schedule
"I have a five-year-old son who I take to school every morning at around 8:30. I'm usually home by 9:00 and am available to work by 10:00. I can work until 2:30 on weekdays, but have to leave no later than 2:40 to pick my son up from school. On weekends, I typically spend time with my son and my wife, so I can't commit right now to weekend work. I hope you understand my desire to keep a good work-life balance so I can spend time with my family."
Sometimes, familial or other commitments, like raising a child, might interfere with a traditional work schedule. You can tell you employer about your family if you choose, letting them know your available hours as they relate to school, pick-up and drop-off or personal family time.
Example 3: Currently employed
"I am currently employed at Max's Furniture on Brown Street. I work part-time there and can commit to around 20 extra hours per week if you hire me. I work Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday at the furniture store from 9:00 until about 4:00. I can't commit to any hours on those days because I also do freelance photography work in the evenings and on the weekends. I can commit to Wednesday and Friday from 9:00 until 6:00. I'm available to begin work on Wednesday, January 8th."
Explaining your current work schedule to prospective employers helps them understand what kind of work you do and how your current schedule might affect the position's requirements. It's important to be honest about your prior commitments and not overlap work commitments.
Example 4: Flexible hours
"I am flexible and can work almost any shift. I've worked both night and day shifts, so I can work first, second, or third shift as needed. I can also commit to one weekend per week. I'm flexible enough for on-call work as well, if that's an option. I'm available to begin work on Tuesday, March 3rd."
If you have a flexible, open schedule, you can commit to working any time. Tell your employer if there are any special days or hours that you participate in activities, family time, or other personal commitments before committing entirely to the open schedule.
Example 5: Future plans
"Over the next month, I'm attending an online seminar training program to develop my interpersonal and conflict resolution skills. This seminar is important to me for professional and personal development. It takes place at 8:30 in the morning until 11:30. I would like to continue to attend, so I won't be available during those times for the next four weeks, ending on the 25th. I can start working from 8:30 to 5:30 on the 25th, or from 12:00 to 5:30 until my seminar ends."
Tell your employer about any future commitments so they can amend your starting schedule for minimal interference. Being honest about these commitments helps your employer make adjustments without affecting someone else's schedule with a last-minute request. Your new employer may appreciate the transparency and be more trusting if you're honest.
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