Here we're advised that asking about overtime during an interview is a mistake. Is it?

"And will you guys pay me for my extra hours of work?"

is probably not the best way to phrase the question but the overall meaning of the question seems meaningful to me.

Is it a mistake? Why?

I work as a Full-stack web developer out of Bulgaria.

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  • The flagged duplicate mentions literally nothing about how to ask whether overtime is paid for, and neither do the answers. – Player One Jul 14 '19 at 20:34
  • I think it's just a case of phrasing the question in a more polite way. "If there is overtime, are there option to have it as paid or TOIL?" – Smock Jul 15 '19 at 12:12
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    This question really needs some job-specific and regional context. There are lots of jobs where an overtime policy is a standard part of the agreement and an interviewer would expect to be asked about it, and explain it, in an interview. Other jobs where it's inherently not typical to have arrangement for overtime, and asking about it might seem a little strange. And of course there are lots of parts of the world where overtime is managed by law. So, again, asking would seem strange. What type of job are you interviewing for, and where are you located? – dwizum Jul 15 '19 at 13:44

It's entirely acceptable and advantageous to ask about overtime. If overtime is something that is important to you (whether you want to avoid it or want the extra hours), definitely ask about it when talking to recruiters or managers.

A potential series of questions could be:

  • "How many hours should I expect to work each week? How will those hours be spread across the week?"
  • "How often should I expect to be asked to work more than 40hrs/week? How much notice will I receive when this happens?"
  • "How will I be compensated for overtime hours worked?"

Polite and direct questions will always get a commensurate answer and will never be an issue for a reasonable recruiter or interviewer.

In fact, in a recent discussion with a job seeker, the first two questions asked were about call (i.e., being called back into work after leaving for the day/weekend) and overtime. Questions about overtime like those above are not unusual at all.

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    Personally I'd word the question as: "What are your overtime policies?". That way they can describe if overtime is even allowed and/or if it's expected and in what form you'll be compensated for it. Then depending on their answers (and local legalities) you can ask clarifying questions or try to negotiate better compensation. – yetanothercoder Jul 15 '19 at 12:33

It is true that posing that question can sometimes cost you the job (please note "can sometimes" is not the same as "will for sure")

However, I wouldn't really be too concerned for the cases where it does cost you the job, because those are precisely the cases where the answer to your question is "No". And if you are asking that question, it's probably because that's important to you.

gmasher729 is right that "how much do you pay?" is probably a better way to ask that "do you pay at all?", because it creates the same (or less) "nuisance" but provides you more information. Jay's formulations also look OK to me.

By the way, I wonder what kind of job the author of the post is currently holding...


"And will you guys pay me for my extra hours of work?"

That's the wrong way to ask, because it asks for a yes or no answer and therefore invites a no, and you're stuck. Better ask:

"And I have to ask, how much do you guys pay for overtime, if there is overtime?"

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    @JoeStrazzere Even if there is a legally mandated amount, this question still has value. It gets at the heart of the OP's concern, and if their answer is lower (or higher!) than any legal requirement, that's also good information to know when deciding whether or not to accept. – Steve-O Jul 14 '19 at 23:50
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    Better ask them about how overtime works instead of asking how it is paid. If you don't like the answer, consider asking for modifications. Also avoid using the term "you guys." – Battle Jul 15 '19 at 10:04

You do want to ask about overtime, but I would not phrase it that way.

First ask how often overtime happens, and what causes it. There's a big difference between "management frequently sets unreasonable deadlines and there will be overtime if we may miss the deadline" and "we give teams a lots of freedom how to implement their stuff, but you may be called after hours once in a blue moon if something breaks and operational support can't fix it on their own".

Then ask how people are compensated. Compensation can happen by extra wages, but you can also be compensated by time.

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