Why You Should Think Twice Before You Mention “Work-Life Balance” In An Interview

“I want work-life balance.”  This is a topic that comes up all the time, but what does it really mean?  In my experience it is a statement that can have unintended consequences.      

Here are some things I have heard from hiring mangers based on this comment:

  • The person is lazy

  • They are burnt out

  • They are not a fit because we all work extremely hard here

  • They have a family that will take away from work and make their hours unpredictable

The reality is that the meaning of work-life balance is different for each person, so unless you unpack that statement, you are at the mercy of the interviewer’s thoughts on the subject.  If you want work-life balance, rephrase to describe what you really mean. 

So, out with Work-Life Balance and in with What That Means To You.  Here are some examples of how simple it can be to avoid a negative impact on the interview process:

  • I am looking for a role that calls for a 40-50 hour per week commitment in the office.  When I am home I do not always want to be still working.  Occasional emails and other items are okay, but not the rule.

  • I expect to work 50-60 hours per week, but when I need to work remotely for family obligations, I would love to have that flexibility.  That will probably be a few times a month.

Rule of Thumb:

  • Make it short and to the point.

  • If a 7 year old cannot understand it, you are over thinking it.

Some people think 30 hours a week is a full load, while others think anything less than 70 is hard to imagine.  Take the mystery out of this situation and be specific.

-Written By Tim Sprangers