Working overtime has become almost a norm in the majority of big corporations. If you stand up from your desk at 4pm, ready to go home after spending eight hours at work, people will start looking at you. They will think that you are crazy, because people do not leave the workplace after eight hours in the 21st century…

Now I do not want to argue whether it is right (in my opinion it is not, but that’s not a point of this article). While interviewing you for a job, hiring managers will often inquire about your willingness to work overtime. Or they will structure it differently, asking “Your supervisor wants you to work overtime every week, but you have other commitments outside of work. What will you do?” And I will try to help you understand what you should say, both if you can and cannot stay besides typical working hours. Before we look at seven sample answers to the question, I want you to remember two crucial points.

First one, if they inquire about working overtime (or night shifts, on weekends, etc), it is almost certainly required in the job. If they did not expect you to work overtime at least sometimes, they would not ask the question. And secondly, your attitude matters more than anything else. Maybe you have a little child or another job, or some other obligations, and most of the time cannot stay at work besides the standard hours. Even in such a case you can show your willingness to sacrifice something for the employer. Maybe you cannot stay overtime, but you can arrive early to handle your duties. Or you can sometimes work on Saturday, etc. Let’s have a look at the sample answers now.


7 sample answers to “Are you willing to work overtime?” interview question

  1. I am willing to, because I understand the workload is heavy here at times, and we’ll have deadlines to meet and monthly targets. Of course, in an ideal case I will manage to handle my workload during standard working hours. And you can be sure I do not plan to waste time at work, and will try my best to eliminate all distractions. But I know that despite my best effort I may struggle to meet some deadlines or simply get the job done. In such a case I do not mind staying overtime.
  2. I am willing to, but it is hard for me considering my obligations outside of work. You should understand that I have a family and lot of things to do in the afternoons. And I am also seeking a better life-work balance. What I try to say here is that I definitely cannot stay here until 6:30pm every day. However, what I can do is to take some work home with me, and work for one or two extra hours in the evening, or on Saturday, simply when I have no other obligations. I believe that the key is to get the job done, and it doesn’t matter much whether I do it in the office, or back at home.
  3. I am not only willing to do so, I count with dong it. Look, this isn’t my first job application in a bar. I’ve been working in similar places for the past ten years, and I know how it goes. Officially the place closes at midnight, but there are still thirty guests inside, spending money. You cannot really afford to close in such circumstances, can you? Especially when your supervisor asks you to stay overtime… So we stay until 1am or 2am or 4am. I am still young and do not mind a long shift, as long as I am properly compensated for each extra hour at work.
  4. I would love to do so, but I just cannot. Let me explain. I have a second job, and a small child, and have to take care of it. For me staying overtime is not really an option, at least not on the majority of days. In my opinion though, it isn’t necessarily a disadvantage. Because I know I will have some goals to reach for each week and month, and some deadlines to meet. My tight schedule motivates me to plan my work with utmost efficiency, and make sure they I do not waste any time at work. I believe I can handle the workload in 8 hours. Maybe others need to stay here ten hours, but what they do not realize is that they spend two hours each day doing nothing–drinking coffee, chatting with colleagues, checking this or that online, and so on. And that’s not my case really.
  5. I am willing to do everything necessary to be successful in this job. Is working overtime necessary? I cannot tell, because this is my first job application in the field, and I have no idea about a typical workload here. But I can assure you that I will do what I can to succeed as a salesman in your company. If it means staying here until the evening and making calls or preparing offers for prospects, I will do that. So we will see. Maybe I will excel in the job, and will actually leave one hour earlier than anyone else. And maybe I will stay two extra hours. Only time will tell, but let me repeat that I am flexible and ready to sacrifice some of my free time for achieving professional success.
  6. I am willing to, but I prefer not to. Let’s face it: most people work overtime simply because everyone else does the same thing in a big international corporation. But is it really necessary? Don’t they waste time during the day? Cannot they be more efficient in the job? In my opinion, working overtime is overrated. Just look at the examples from Europe, where many companies introduced new concepts, such as 4 days long working week, or working just for 7 hours a day. As long as one really focuses on the core of their job, and does not waste time at work with a variety of unproductive tasks, they will handle the workload. No need to stay overtime, unless we speak about exceptional cases, such as a day before an audit etc.
  7. Working for your company would be a dream come true. And I know it isn’t easy to get in, and to stay. Without a doubt you have high expectations on your employees, and in order to meet them, people have to work overtime, perhaps almost every day. I want to assure you that I do not expect to leave my office at 4pm on any day. I am here to work, and hopefully to make a great career as an engineer. Good things do not come easily in life, and I know I will have to sacrifice something for my professional success. Staying overtime, or even working on Saturday at times, does not seem like a big sacrifice to me, considering everything I can gain in your company.

* Special Tip: This isn’t the most difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, solving problems, and other tricky scenarios that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 50 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!

Final thoughts

Many people spend their entire life at work, having two jobs, working overtime. It certainly isn’t a good trend, but sometimes we have to sacrifice something for better tomorrows… When they inquire whether you are willing to work overtime, make sure to show at least some flexibility, and a desire to reach your goals at work. Because that’s exactly what they hope to hear from a great candidate for the job…

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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