Best Work Life Balance Questions to Ask
It's important, but also difficult, to know if you'll enjoy working at a company - after all, it's not all about the money. What you can do though, is ask these questions in your interview to get a better idea.
5 min read
20 May, 2022
We’ve all heard the phrase “work-life balance” a million times, but what does it mean? With 77% of workers and 84% of millennial workers reporting burnout resulting from stress, work-life balance has never been more important. So when looking for a new role, how do we find out the (true) answers from prospective employers?
The first thing to do is figure out what a work-life balance means for you. Everyone has different priorities and responsibilities that will shape the way they want their time to be spent. There’s no particular formula to follow, just note down a list of what work-life balance means to you, so you know what it is you’re searching for.
We’ll be taking you through examples of questions you can ask in an interview situation to help you gauge what the work-life balance is like in your prospective new company.
1. What does a typical day look like in this role?
This question is a great way not only to understand the role better but to have a better idea of what you can expect from your day-to-day. If the interviewer reels off a list of meetings and appointments, the likelihood of there being much deviation or time for yourself is limited. Of course, there are roles where this is part of the territory but it’s imperative to know whether it’s for you.
If the interviewer is a bit vague on the details, it could be because the role is project-based or varies depending on the season. However, it’s important to try and get as much information out of them as possible so you have the most realistic viewpoint. Don’t be scared to ask questions, it’s as much about you finding out about your needs as it is theirs!
Would you like a 4 day work week?
2. What makes the company’s culture special?
Company culture is a big part of any role. If you thrive in social environments, you might not enjoy a workplace where everyone merely punches the clock. You want to know that you’re going to be around (at least some) like-minded people. This environment can also offer insights about the balance between work and relaxation. If they have an early finish on Friday or a routine team gathering, it indicates a healthy blend of professionalism and camaraderie.
But make sure this is right for you as well! Perhaps you're more reserved and favor remote work, but you'd want to ensure there's no constant online presence requirement. The most important thing you can do is make sure it’s a good fit for you and how you like to work.
3. How do you ensure your employees have a healthy work-life balance?
If you’ve got a question, you might as well get it out there! There’s nothing wrong with asking outright, after all, as you’re as much trying to fit the best job to fit you as they are trying to find the best person for the job. And there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be a direct answer. If there isn’t, that’s probably all the information you need to know!
For example, one proven way that employers can improve their employee’s work-life balance is to implement a four-day workweek. Employees that work 32-hour weeks benefit from additional personal time, which adds up! Research from employees participating in four-day workweeks reported meaningful work-life improvements, including time spent with friends, family, and their communities.
Another way to ensure your employees have a healthy work-life balance is by utilizing an employee management solution. This software can help streamline scheduling, track hours worked, and give employees more control over their time. By implementing such a solution, employers can promote a better work-life balance for their employees, ultimately leading to increased productivity and job satisfaction.
4. How do you measure success?
This question is important not only from a work-life balance point of view but also from a personal value viewpoint. You want the job you’re doing to achieve something and for your own achievements to feel like they’re having an impact on the company as a whole.
This is only going to happen if your success is based on the value of your work. If you’re only going to be praised for staying late and not for the work you are doing during that over time, it’s not going to feel like the job you’re doing matters.
This should also open up a conversation about previous employees who have moved up in the company due to their success within their roles. If this turns out to be your boss or someone in a position of seniority, then you know you’re in a good place. Goal-oriented bosses are the ones who are going to have a more realistic view of work-life balance.
5. Does this position require me to travel regularly?
Although the idea of an all-expenses-paid work trip sounds dreamy, if this is a weekly occurrence, it could become quite tiresome. And it’ll definitely disrupt your work-life balance! This will usually be documented in the job spec but it’s good to get a definitive answer whilst you’re in the room.
6. What wellbeing support do you offer?
The importance of mental health has really come to the forefront in the past couple of years and is only rising in importance. This makes it an important factor to consider when finding a new role. Lots of companies will offer some kind of well-being activity on a regular basis or a subscription to an app such as Headspace.
Some companies have started offering mental health days alongside sickness days. If you’re someone who struggles with mental health issues, this is a great thing to make sure a company has in place already to support you.
Companies that offer flexible working schedules and four-day work weeks are particularly attractive in terms of providing a great work-life balance. Employers that demonstrate concern over their employee’s physical and mental health are in great demand among younger generations in particular.
Studies indicate that the four-day working week is associated with improved wellbeing among employees: 78% of staff were happier with the arrangement, and 70% were found to be less stressed.
7. What kind of support do you have for parents?
Of course, this question only applies if you have children or are expecting any in the immediate future, but it could also be beneficial if you see yourself staying at this company for the foreseeable future. If they offer flexible working hours for those on the school run or 4-day weeks for parents, then you’ve got an employer who knows how to support parents.
Work-life balance is all about personal preference so making sure that you have the right balance for you is of the utmost importance. And don’t be afraid to ask questions! Think of it like a date – you’re both there to see if you’re a good fit for each other as much as wanting to impress the other person.
With around 40% of workers quitting their jobs due to stress-related burnout, flexibility and work-life balance are crucial factors for your job search. By asking the right work-life balance questions at the interview stage, you’ll be able to gain insight into the company’s culture, flexibility, and overall support for their employees’ well-being—before you take the offer!