Popular Part-Time Interview Questions

Written by

George D. Baker


August 14, 2014


As with full-time positions, most companies choose only the best candidates to fill part-time job openings. Along with searching for the most qualified candidates, most employers prefer candidates who they believe will stick with the position for more than a short time. While you may prefer to work full-time, don’t blow off part-time positions, as the employer may eventually increase your hours. Here are some common part-time interview questions and tips on how to answer them.

“Why Do You Seek a Part-Time Job?”

In most cases, employers want to know about your other obligations and why you are only looking for part-time work. If you are a student, take this opportunity to discuss your educational goals and the types of courses you are taking. If you have family or other obligations, discuss this briefly without disclosing too much personal information. Employers are usually trying to determine how reliable you are and how other aspects of your life may affect your work commitment.

“What Interests You About This Position?”

Some employers will want to know why you are applying for a specific position. Before the interview, conduct some research on the company so you can easily talk about what attracts you to the position. Try to relate some of your skills and job abilities to the requirements listed in the job description. Take this opportunity to demonstrate to the employer that you have a solid understanding of what is required of you. Let the employer know that you can handle the responsibilities of the position.

“What are Your Greatest Strengths and Weaknesses?”

When answering this type of question, you want to highlight your major selling points while at the same time not sounding too boastful. While you don’t want to stoop to outright bragging about yourself, make sure that you also aren’t too hard on yourself. Begin with what you consider to be your greatest strength and provide examples of how you’ve applied it and persevered in professional situations. When talking about your weaknesses, make sure to counter them by letting the employer know how you’ve been trying to overcome them.

“What Did You Like and Dislike About Your Previous Job?”

Be careful that you do not sound too negative or resentful. Even if you did not enjoy the position at all, try to come up with a few aspects of the job that you did enjoy. Another option is to try pairing a positive with a negative. For example, you might tell your employer, “I enjoyed being able to work with a variety of people on a daily basis. However, after a certain point I no longer felt challenged.”

“What Days and Hours Are You Available to Work?”

Employers want to make sure you will be a reliable worker and available during the required work hours. Assure the interviewer that you can be flexible, because as a part-time employee you will often be asked to fill in hours as needed. First inform the employer of the hours that you are regularly available, and then discuss any flexibility around other obligations. If you are a student, give the employer a basic idea of your class schedule. If you have family obligations during the week, let the employer know that you are often available on the weekends.

“What Are Your Salary Expectations?”

Use caution when answering this question, as you do not want to chain yourself to figures that are too high or too low. Research the position beforehand to determine a broad range for the job in your area. Be honest but realistic with the employer. You must remember that just because you earned a certain amount at your previous job does not always mean that you will be paid the same rate at the new position. Try these possible responses to this question: “I would like fair compensation for my experience and flexibility,” or, “From my experience, positions like this usually pay between $X to $Z in this field. Anything within that range would be acceptable.”

“Why Are You the Best Candidate For the Job?”

Even if it’s already clear that you’re a great fit for the position, interviewers always want you to plead your case and tell them why you would be the best choice over other applicants. Be sure to provide examples of how your education and life experience have prepared you for success in the position, and let the employer know that you will be a benefit to the company.

Written by:  George D. Baker

George D. Baker is a long-time contributor to College Mouse. Now retired, Mr. Baker volunteers at adult education programs in his local community.

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