Are you willing to work weekends? Holidays? Through the birth of your child? Until you collapse?
It’s the hot new thing in job interviews: Testing whether candidates are willing to sacrifice everything — their home lives, their families, their health — for the good of their company.
The Muse recently wrote that we should be aware of “work-life balance ‘tests'” during interviews, highlighting the chief executive of Barstool Sports, Erika Nardini, who reportedly texts job applicants interviewing with the company on weekends. Nardini said she does this “just to see how fast you’ll respond,” in an interview with The New York Times. She expects to be contacted back “within three hours,” she elaborated. “It’s not that I’m going to bug you all weekend if you work for me, but I want you to be responsive. I think about work all the time,” Nardini said. “Other people don’t have to be working all the time, but I want people who are also always thinking.”
It was also reported recently that Vena Solutions CEO Don Mal asks candidates if they’d “leave [their] family at Disneyland to do something that was really important for the company?” He expects them to say yes.
Needless to say, both of these questions would be a big red flag for anyone considering a job at such a company. While certain jobs may require your attention during time away from work — being on-call can be part of the job as a doctor or nurse or a systems administrator, for instance — most really don’t. What’s more, vacations and other moments recharging away from work are critical for a variety of reasons, including your health. And downtime may even help your wallet.
So, here’s how to protect your private time.
Find out what your boss wants
If you’re getting nightly communication from your manager, you should see what’s required from you. It might just be a convenient time for them to send you something; you might not have to communicate back at that time.
But you should see what they want you to do, and communicate clearly if what’s being asked of you is unreasonable.
If a text from your boss comes your way this weekend
An article by The Muse provides a potential response to a text your manager sends you on a Sunday (as inspired by Nardini): “I’ll review this first thing tomorrow morning and send on my thoughts by [time on Monday].”
The article suggests you could follow up, as such: “Then, when you do share more on Monday, you can intro your work with a line that says, ‘I’m always happy to answer as quickly as I can during the workweek, however I reserve weekends for [time with family/recharging/etc.] With that said…’”
Be flexible, but upfront about your time
If you’re interviewing, show dedication to your work, but remember to demonstrate that you strongly value moments outside the office, too.
A LiveCareer article features potential responses to an interviewer’s questions about working on weekends or during holidays.
Here’s one: “I’m an efficient worker, so though I will gladly put in extra time as needed, I find I can get the vast majority of my work tasks completed during the regular workweek. Although, I have no problem with the occasional long work weekend or holiday.”
Set your schedule well ahead of time
Way Up also shows you how to make your availability off-hours clear to an interviewer in this video.
Consider how much you want the job
Remember, being asked about working during time off during an interview doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed the job — or that you have to take it. You still have a choice to make.
If a potential future employer makes it clear they don’t respect your time, perhaps it’s not the company for you.