Skip to main contentA logo with &quat;the muse&quat; in dark blue text.
Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

Ask an Honest HR Professional: Can I Ask a Potential Employer About Flexible Schedules?

Nazar Abbas Photography/Getty Images

Dear HR Professional,

I know that I’m most productive at odd times, and now that I’m job searching, I want to be up front about the fact that I’m looking for flexible hours. What advice do you have for starting that conversation?

Nervous Night Owl

Dear Nervous Night Owl,

Great question! Flexible work arrangements are becoming more common in the workplace as technology continues to make it possible to work remotely and work non-traditional hours. But, that doesn’t mean it’s an inherent employee right—so, you’re smart to want to address this early on.

Start by asking questions about this during the interview process—rather than approaching the employer with your own demands.

You can ask clarifying questions about the company culture, how they prioritize work-life balance, and even the company’s views on flexible work arrangements in particular. That will give you a better feel for whether or not this is a topic you should even approach.

However, if you have a very specific arrangement that you require due to family needs or some other circumstance, it’s best to share that early. It might feel presumptuous, but that’s important knowledge for the employer to have.

If Flexibility Is a Deal-Breaker…

If a flexible work arrangement is an absolute deal-breaker for you, then be honest and share that as you continue in the interview process.

A fitting time to do that is when you’re asked what you’re looking for in your next role. In addition to elaborating on the challenges you’d like to tackle and the growth you’d like to experience, also touch on the importance of a flexible schedule.

When doing so, you should also be prepared to share the specifics of what type of arrangement you are looking for and a detailed plan for how you would make it work while still meeting the demands of that role.

If Flexibility Is on Your “Nice to Have” List…

If a flexible work arrangement is one of those things on your “nice to have eventually” lists, it might be wise to consider a non-flexible work schedule when getting started. That allows you to build collaborative relationships and trust, as well as to better understand the responsibilities and demands of the position.

In time, you can approach your new boss to suggest a flexible work arrangement (remember to highlight a clear plan for how you will continue to meet the needs of the role!).

Managers who are resistant to flexible work from the outset might become more flexible as they understand an employee’s quality of work and build a level of rapport and trust.

Knowing what you want out of your next career move is empowering. And, if flexible hours make that list for you, I hope these tips help you find the right role and employer to meet your needs.

This article is part of our Ask an Expert series—a column dedicated to helping you tackle your biggest career concerns. Our experts are excited to answer all of your burning questions, and you can submit one by emailing us at editor(at)themuse(dot)com and using Ask an Honest HR Professional in the subject line.

Your letter may be published in an article on The Muse. All letters to Ask an Expert become the property of Daily Muse, Inc and will be edited for length, clarity, and grammatical correctness.

A logo with "the muse" in white text.