What to say and what not to say at interview, about why you want a part time job.
Best tip: don't stop at preparing answers to interview questions - practise saying your answers out loud the day before the interview.
We’ve put together some answers to questions that have a part time angle, to add to those about your skills and experience:
1. Why did you apply for this role?
Even though you're applying for a job that's been advertised as part time, NEVER say: ‘because I want to work part time’. Instead, focus your answer around why you want this job in this company. The employer wants to hear why you think it’s the perfect opportunity for you, and about the skills and experience you can bring.
2. Why do you want to work part time?
This is different! The employer might want to make sure you genuinely want to work part time – he/she doesn’t want to take on someone who is just filling time and will leave to get a full time role as soon as they can.
Let the employer know, honestly, why you want to work part time. Reassure them that you’ve carefully thought out the hours that you’re available for work, and that you will be completely reliable within those hours.
Explain your main reasons for wanting part time in a positive light. Some examples of answers could be:
‘I am a volunteer trustee with a local charity, so I am looking for a role that will also allow me some time to focus on that’.
‘I have a young family and your role sounds perfect as it will give me the opportunity to continue with my career at the same time as spending time with my children’.
3. What hours/days are you available to work?
Be clear and honest about your availability. The employer might be worried that you will be inflexible about hours, or that you will prove unreliable if your answer gives the impression that you haven’t really worked out your availability.
If your reason for wanting a part time job is to fit with family (and the interviewer already knows this), explain that you have already researched childcare and that this will not be a problem. Never go to an interview unless you have already done this! It’s not fair on the employer if you accept the job and then find out that you can’t make childcare arrangements.
4. Would you be interested in increasing your hours in the future, if the business expands?
Try not to shut off any options. It’s hard to know the answer before you’re in the job. You might find you are able to increase your hours a few years down the line.
5. What are your salary expectations?
If it's a while since your last job, the best way to prepare for this question is to search online for similar jobs, to get an idea of the current market rate. You can then use the part time salary calculator on our home page to work out your pro rata salary.
Take some time to consider not only what the market rate is for the role but also what salary you can afford to take. This is particularly important with part time as you will still need to factor in commuting costs and also other potential costs such as childcare. It is very frustrating for a recruiter to think they have found the perfect person only to find that salary is a stumbling block.
6. What did you do during your career break? (If you had one)
You have probably gained valuable knowledge and experience without realising it!
Think of the skills and experience you have built up during your career break. For example, organising events in the PTA at school, project managing a house extension, becoming fluent in a foreign language, voluntary experience with a charity, or further training.
7. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? What are your future goals?
Park 'part time' to one side when you answer this one. It’s important to show the employer you are committed to working in their organisation. Never think of yourself as 'just working part time' or that this will get in the way of career progression.
A tip on flexibility
Keep your options open! Don’t be too rigid about exactly how many hours you want to work each day, and the precise start and finishing times. If you’re completely inflexible about your part time hours, you’ll find job opportunities are limited.
Our sister company, Women Like Us, holds regular Interview Success workshops in London. These small group sessions are particularly designed for women who have had a career break or want to change their career direction, or who simply want to give themselves the best chance of getting their job of choice.