I recently saw a job description for a senior software developer position says "Must be able to work nights and weekends, variable schedule(s) and overtime as necessary."

This job description makes me rather uncomfortable. We all know some overtime (paid or unpaid) for software development is inevitable. But it is the first time I saw a JD make it so clearly.

Say I do get the interview, what should I discuss that with the hiring manager and HR regarding this?

  • 1
    I think a country tag would be very helpful, there is huge differences in expectations and employee protection between different countries.
    – Helena
    Mar 21, 2022 at 9:43
  • I deliberately missed that because I don't what it sidetracks the answers I may get. It is a US company opening a position in Beijing. And although China used to be notorious about working overtime. A lot have changed since 2021, e.g. China's Supreme People's Court said the overtime practice of "996", working 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week, is illegal. Mar 21, 2022 at 9:49
  • The problem is, that even if they cannot force you, they can decide to never promote you if you don't play along. I have worked in China before, and can tell that my managers didn't like to hear a "no" from me.
    – Helena
    Mar 21, 2022 at 9:58
  • Well this is a US company and I don't know what is the common practice in US company. Mar 21, 2022 at 10:03
  • 3
    It seems pretty clear that they're letting job candidates know that there will be after hours work. If that makes you uncomfortable then don't apply for the job.
    – joeqwerty
    Mar 21, 2022 at 12:05

5 Answers 5


You should simply ask them how much they are going to pay for this additional working time. If they really need this time (e.g. to check on critical infrastructure), they will pay for it and you can decide if you want to work like that. If they don't want to pay more (or don't want to give accurate answers), you'd probably don't want to work there.

  • Thanks for answering my question. The JD makes it sound additional working time is the regular routine, which it is strange. Mar 21, 2022 at 9:43
  • 2
    Then ask exactly for that. If they give you a limit (e.g. max 20hours /Month) let them write it into the contract.
    – FooTheBar
    Mar 21, 2022 at 9:49
  • The trouble with the answers they might give is that during the interview they may say one thing (and the interview person responding may actually believe it), but after joining the company that the reality is totally different. And you can't predict that from just the interview.
    – Peter M
    Mar 21, 2022 at 13:09
  • 1
    @PeterM Which is why you ask for it to be written into the contract.
    – gidds
    Mar 21, 2022 at 14:31

It's possible that this position involves on-call production support or something similar.

Often this is on a rotating basis among the team members and it may be on an as-needed basis. Things like a "production down" situation, new software releases, patching, etc. may also trigger a need for off-hours support.

Definitely ask about this as a part of your interview. For some developers other commitments may make this difficult or impossible. So you want to understand the requirements in advance and the company should want you to understand them as well.

Extra compensation may or may not be involved here. Ask questions.


There may be myriad reasons why this is part of the job description:

  • Updates are pushed when convenient to customers in other timezones, there is an on-call rotation to support major releases.
  • You are contracted out to companies in different timezones and expected to adapt to their core hours.
  • There is no customer support departement, you are the support departement.

In your position, I would try to get a really clear picture of the working hours and scheduling structure. I left a career in retail logistics to attain a better work-life balance. I'm happy to work on-call and pull overtime, but I'm also wary about companies that ask a lot from their employees and offer little in return. So I ask about:

  • What does the company do to minimize overtime? I'm happy to save the day, or be on-call 'just-in-case'. But after a crisis, we do root cause analysis and change our processes. I won't compensate for our inability to test releases properly, hire enough staff or plan our projects.
  • Is overtime paid, paid extra, or compensated as extra leave? By the time we're discussing the specifics of the contract, I'm setting up coffee dates with future colleagues to do due diligence: Frequency of overtime, ability to take accrued leave.
  • Does the contract offer sufficient protections? That contract is a bilateral agreement, my obligations should specify appropriate limitations. I.e.: A hard maximum of two on-call shifts per month.

If you are potentially interested in shift work, ask about:

  • Schedule structure: Continuously variable, or different between multi-month projects?
  • Min. and max. shift duration.
  • Rest hours between shifts: In EU, minimum of 11 hours.
  • Break times / structure.
  • Weekends / Time off. (I.e. Max 7 workdays in a row, then a day off. Two consecutive days off at least once a month.)
  • On-call expectations: SLA's with customers, types of issues.

Everything has a price. I'm willing to work ridiculous hours, but I expect a ridiculous salary in return. The rest is a negotiation. Try to get a good understanding of their offer, discuss what aspects are negotiable. If they're not paying enough, or you're not willing to accommodate their ridiculous schedule, thank them for their time and walk away.


You should ask if this requirements actually implies overtime or just flexibility. It is perfectly possible to have a flex-time agreement where you work at unusual times, but in return can stay home during "regular" work hours, so you never exceed the average amount of hours per week.

So a good question to ask is how many hours per week employees are expected to work at this company, and if there are any policies in place to control this.

Note that when you receive the answer that employees are expected to work much more than 40 hours per week not just occasionally but permanently, then you might want to look for a different job, because this policy is neither sustainable nor productive.

  • "Must be able to work nights and weekends, variable schedule(s)" implies flexibility but combined "overtime as necessary." means exactly that stacked on top of aforementioned flexibility. The result is overtime, anytime.
    – DKNguyen
    Mar 22, 2022 at 1:25

There should be compensation for this as part of your salary. Some smallish compensation to be available (for example for having your phone besides your bed when you go to sleep, not getting drunk etc. ), without doing any work. And some major compensation for getting a call at 2am in the morning, working a few hours, and being back in bed at 6am. If the compensation is enough, and you don't mind doing this, then you can sign. Otherwise let them find someone else.

PS. We do NOT all know that overtime is inevitable.

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