We live in a fast-paced world. Most retail stores and restaurants are open on Sunday, and many factories run their operations 24/7, with morning, afternoon, and night shifts. Gone are the years when Sunday was a day off to spend with family and friends, and when people worked in the day and slept in the night. And though I certainly do not support the current trend, as a job seeker you have only one option: to adapt, and to show some flexibility. Any other attitude won’t land you the job…

This interview question in common in interviews for both full time and part time jobs. You will face it especially when applying for jobs in retail and hospitality, but it is not uncommon to get it in any other interview, simply because certain level of flexibility–such as staying overtime when the workload is heavy, is expected practically everywhere, and practically from everyone.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to the question. I tried to include on the list answers for people who are flexible and people who aren’t. My selection includes some typical choices together with rather unconventional responses. Read them all and pick a fitting one for your situation, and for the message you try to convey in the interviews. Once done, check also the paragraphs below the list of answers, where I explain the attitude you should present with your answer, in order to get the job.


7 sample answers to “How flexible are you?” interview question

  1.  I am incredibly flexible, and ready to work at any time you need me here. I can even start tomorrow. The case is that I do not have a family yet, and I am not studying any longer. At this stage of my professional career I want to work a lot, gain experience, and build a solid foundation for my professional career. Work is currently my first priority, and I definitely won’t say no to any shift you offer me.
  2. Speaking honestly, I have quite a lot on my plate currently. School, learning Spanish, training soccer, and other things. However, I want to ensure you that the job I try to get with you will have a second place on my list of priorities, right after school, of course. From Monday to Friday I am at school, typically until 3pm. After that I am ready to work at any time, including on weekends. It may happen at times that I cannot work on a weekend–for example when we have an important family gathering, but I believe that we can always find a way, such as changing a shift with a colleague.
  3. I wished I was more flexible. But things are as they are, I have a small kid and can work only certain hours each day. It is one of the reasons why I apply for a job with your restaurant. Because I know you have many staff members and are very flexible when it comes to shift patterns. And I believe you can find some hours for me in the afternoons. Maybe I am not the most flexible employee, but you can be sure I will always give me 100% effort, and won’t let you down.
  4. It depends whether we talk about time or working duties. I am definitely flexible when it comes to working hours. If it is needed to stay an extra hour at work, I definitely can–as long as I am compensated for it. But I guess it comes without saying. When it comes to other flexibility though–such as taking care of duties that are outside of my contract, I am not flexible. Because I have a bad experience from the bar where I worked before, and want to make it clear that I will take care only of my waiting duties.
  5. I have prepared an exact schedule for an entire week. Please have a look. As you can see, on Monday and Tuesday I can work from 4pm to 10pm. Then Wednesday and Thursday I can work basically all day. Friday I cannot work until 5pm, and Saturday and Sunday I can work. I am Christian, and I would prefer not working on Sundays. But I also understand that when I am not at work some of my colleagues have to be there, and perhaps they are also believers. So I will agree with an equal distribution of shifts on Sunday, so at least on some Sundays I do not have to work.
  6. I am super-flexible in all senses of the word. With my vast experience in office work and management, you can count on me to take care of a variety of duties, and even replace some of my colleagues when needed, when they cannot come to work. What’s more, I can afford to stay overtime when the workload is heavy, and make sure that we do not miss a deadline, or something similar. You can count on me when it comes to flexibility, and I hope you will give ma chance to prove it in the job.
  7. I hope to become more flexible soon. At the moment, I have some health issues and have to take care of two children, plus I have also one other part time job. But I work on simplifying things, perhaps a part time job with you can become a full time job one day, and I am also looking for a nanny. To sum it up, at the moment I am not very flexible, and can work only certain hours. But I do my best to change things, and the job with you can help me make it happen…


The key is to show your willingness to sacrifice something for the employer

As it is the case with many interview questions, your attitude matters the most for the interviewers. Hiring managers know that life isn’t easy, and almost everyone is busy. They do not expect you to tell them that you can work 24 hours a day, anytime they need you. Of course if it is the case great for you, but most like it isn’t….

What they are looking for, however, are applicants who are willing to make some changes in their lives, in order to become more flexible. Applicants who do not mind sacrificing something for their new job. Maybe you have children, and have to be at home at a certain hour each day. Fair enough, family should always be more important than work. But perhaps you can suggest hiring a nanny, at least as an option, if they need you a few extra hours on some days.

Or maybe you are a believer, and, following your faith, prefer not to work on Sunday. But you do not live in a small selfish bubble, and understand that other people–believers or not, also do not like to work on Sundays. Hence you are willing to work two Sundays in a month, so your colleagues can have a nice weekend with their family, or go to church if they prefer so. The remaining two Sundays they will pay you back the favor.

Of course, these are just some examples, but I hope you got the point. It is important to show some flexibility, or at least a willingness to change something in your life in order to become more flexible. At the same time, however, you should not give them false promises. If you cannot work on some days or hours, say so, and explain why (for sure you have a good reason). Because it would not end well if you promised something, they hired you, and then you would not be able to stick to your promises….

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

Matthew Chulaw
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