Q: Is it OK to mention a preference for telecommuting when I’m interviewing?
A: It depends on your situation and whether telecommuting is a preference, as you say, or a necessity. The company’s culture and the nature of the work you’re interviewing for are also considerations.
For people who need a schedule where they can work from home, or for those who wouldn’t take a job unless it allowed telecommuting, I recommend bringing the subject up early in the interviewing process.
However, if telecommuting is more of a “want” than a “need”, you’ll want to be careful about how you ask the question and when you ask it. In general, I recommend waiting until the interview process is further along and you have a better sense of the job, the company and whether there is a good match between you and the organization.
If you have highly in-demand skills then you can put the telecommuting benefit on the table for negotiation. When you do, try to put a positive spin on how your telecommuting would benefit the company, e.g. eliminating the commute would make you more productive, and explain how you plan to make it work — such as providing status reports.
If you don’t have high-demand skills and are interviewing for a position along with lots of other qualified candidates, it’s probably not beneficial to bring it up until you’ve worked in the position for awhile and earned the telecommuting benefit.
After 8 years of working at PSG, I started working from home when my first child was born, and I modify my work schedule to fit client needs or to fit personal commitments. I’ve found it’s also important to have a backup plan in place in case company or client needs change and your telecommuting schedule has to be altered. A successful telecommuting arrangement must work both ways!
About the Recruiter
Laurie Fiumara has 10+ years of experience in the staffing and recruiting industry. As a director and member of the management team at Professional Staffing Group (PSG), she oversees PSG’s major client relationships.