Q&A: What to Say on Interviews When Asked How I Would Handle Having a Job and Taking Classes at the Same Time?



Q: I’m taking 4 classes in the fall and I’m looking for a part-time job. I’ve been in college for a few years, but right now I’m in my second year but going at a fast pace. Once I told an interview I intended to take night classes and he (a doctor) was like, “Oh. Then why are YOU here?” I got that job though.

So, what do I tell interviewers when they ask me how they think I would handle taking a ton of classes and working at the same time? Either way, they are just going to view me as just another useless 20-something who won’t work out at their office, just like they view every other employee other than the office manager.

A: Balancing a full-time course load and a job (be it part-time or full-time) is a great responsibility that takes skill, time management, and discipline. You’ve done it for a few years now and you are to be commended for demonstrating that it can be done. You have, no doubt, learned your limitations and are have gone through the trial and error period necessary to maintain this type of lifestyle. As you go forward in your job search, remember, no one knows your course load but you and your academic advisor – unless you tell them. Once you do, any disclosure you make in a job interview is fair game for the interviewer to use to make his/her decision on whether or not to hire you. He/she may do that with or without your guiding how they perceive your academic activities.

I would recommend that you don’t specify to a potential employer the number of hours that you are taking in college. If you are asked about whether or not you are in school, don’t lie. Just say that you are. If you are asked if you are concerned about it interfering with your ability to perform the tasks required or to show up for work or to work the schedule asked of you, let them know that you feel capable. Use this opportunity to boast about your time management skills, your discipline, your tenacity for reaching your goals, etc. Draw on past experiences. Since you’ve been doing this for a while, you will have lots of examples of when there was a conflict and how you overcame it to be successful at school without affecting your work. Knowing yourself and what you are capable of is a sign of reflection and maturity. Employers can appreciate that because you will hopefully bring that type of diligence to work with you.

Be sure, however, to properly vet the opportunity to ensure that it does indeed work with the time you have available and that it offers you the flexibility that you need to be able to complete class projects and to study for exams.

Best Wishes.


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