Resumes and Job Hunt

July 25, 2013

Q&A: Asking about firm's work/life balance without looking like a slacker

Q: Does work/life balance really exist? And when interviewing with a company, what are some questions that you can ask to find out if they value work/life balance without making it seem that you are not a hard worker?

A: Some would say work/life balance (and specifically the word “balance”) is a myth. But to learn more about how a company views work/life issues, you should talk to employees who work there.

You can get on the company’s website to learn about it and its values, but this tells you what they say about it -- not whether they actually live it.

It will be very important to observe employees and talk to them about hours they worked, extent of travel, work at nights, work on weekends, to see how much of this is standard or how much is periodic. Anyone can work extra hours occasionally -- what you are trying to learn is how much of this is regular, everyday life.

In addition, observe and ask questions about the managers -- do they seem to have any work/life balance themselves or do they live at the firm? This will tell you what they are modeling for others to do.

Joyce E.A. Russell is an industrial and organizational psychologist.

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