Asking Questions


What questions have you asked to help make a position be a better fit with your juggle? What has been the response of your employer or potential employer? How have you as an employer been flexible with positions for your employees or potential employees?

You don’t know if you don’t ask!


The Answer Was “Yes”!

A fantastic curriculum development job opportunity came up for me, when our three children were quite young (6, 4, and 1). During my interview, I was asked if I could work 4 days a week. I did not yet have child care in place, my husband was working long days, and this potential new position would definitely add to the chaos of our busy family life. I said that I would be available for 20 hours a week. I asked the question: Could I work the majority of those hours on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and then, work the remaining hours around my family’s schedule (after the kids were in bed, before they got up in the morning, or when my husband was home and could give me some uninterrupted work time). The answer was yes! I was asked if I would prefer to work in the office or out of one of the school’s that would be later piloting the curriculum. I asked the questions: Could I do the majority of the work at home to save time commuting and then, come to the office or any other needed locations for meetings. The answer was yes! 


The Perfect Job – By Asking Questions

I worked incredibly hard in this part-time contract position and successfully created a curriculum that was piloted in two Calgary high schools that year. I had meaningful, soul filling work that, added to the “crazy” of our family schedule, but that did fit our juggle. I only had to find and pay for two days of child care for three children (which made financial and logistical sense) and the flexibility with some of the hours let me work the remaining time around my husband’s busy schedule. I enjoyed the adult time at the meetings that were scheduled occasionally on Tuesdays or Wednesdays and found that this time was particularly productive and a good opportunity to touch base and ensure we were on the same page along with phone calls, conference calls, and communication over email.

Questions to Ask Potential Employers:
  • Can some of my time be flexible time?
    • Can I do most of my work on 2 or 3 specified days and then, fit the remaining time around family schedules and commitments?
  • Can some of my work be done remotely?
    • Can some of my work be done from home?
    • Can I use online tools for collaboration and/or participation in some meetings?

What are the questions you have asked potential employers about making a position fit with your busy family life? What were the answers? I would love to hear your stories! 

When you read a job posting, it might seem like the perfect fit in terms of the type of work and responsibilities but it might not seem like a perfect fit logistically. Go for it – apply! Then, ask questions to see if there is negotiating room to make the position be a ‘win-win’ for both the employer and for the employee! 

You’ll never know the answer if you don’t ask the question. The worst thing that can happen is that the answer is “no”. It’s always better to ask questions then, to wander around aimlessly in the part-time jungle.


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