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The employers often want that their employees study. I mean not in university, but just reading books or articles.

But I have never heard - how much.

If you are going to be the best, you can study 5 hours each day and then employer will be happy of course. Unless what you study does not bring profit to the company.

But if you don't study 5 hours each day, then for me the question arises - how much is the minimum so I can be calm that I done what I am responsible for.

I guess some employers when count the salary which they are going to pay - might include your extra time of studying. On the other hand - it is not written in the contract. (Or maybe it is in some companies, but I have not heard).

My friend says that it is a employees business.

Even if it is employees business, then there is a risk that employee might get fired from job one day because he did not do what the employer expected even when it was not in the contract, lets say technology is updated but employee did not learn it at home.

So is it ok to ask this? If not ok, then how to know what is the minimum so you could be calm?

I am more thinking about software developers context but this probably applies for any job which is non robotic and worked can learn something new.

And also - is it beneficial to ask this question? Because when not defined, then maybe you are not guilty if you study 1 minute per year. Once it is defined during interview - they will hope that you are making it for the salary you get.

closed as too broad by Vietnhi Phuvan, Jan Doggen, gnat, Michael Grubey, Garrison Neely Oct 28 '14 at 13:12

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Voting to close as too broad because: 1. your question is too vague; 2. You are looking for a one-size-fits-all number of hours spent studying when people pick up info at different rates and when some subjects are clearly more time consuming to learn than others. – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 27 '14 at 11:33
  • @VietnhiPhuvan - I understand that it depends on the complexity of the technology, but there still is some average value I think. And you might go for 2 weeks hard studying and next 2 months chilling after work after you know you did your task. About vague - the thing what employers want is vague for me ;) I only know that they want the best worker for the minumum price :) And we as employees want to get best pay for minimum skill/effort. And I am finding out what is the minimum. – Will_create_nick_later Oct 27 '14 at 12:08
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    You can ask any question you want at your interviews. If you want to come across as silly or clueless, that's OK, too - It's your prerogative. So far as prospective employers are concerned, the only meaningful answers are either you know it or you don't. All other answers amount to "I don't know, and I am looking for ways to be cute about saying that I don't know" – Vietnhi Phuvan Oct 27 '14 at 12:36
  • "hours of study" is a very passive way to describe something that is anything but passive. If you describe mastery of new skills in terms of "hours of study", that gives a negative impression. Instead consider talking about how you learn new things and give an example. Hours of study means nothing by itself-- always tie effort to some kind of outcome. – teego1967 Oct 27 '14 at 12:54
  • @teego - hours of study I think means something. You learn during them. I agree that it depends from person to person how much you learn per hour, but if you set for yourself x hours to study I think still it will be positive. – Will_create_nick_later Oct 27 '14 at 13:05
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Is it ok to ask in interview how many hours should I study after work?

It is OK to ask, although this may not be the best way to ask about it. The employer may benefit from the results of your study - new skills, more experience, wider and deeper understanding of the problem and solution space -, not the sheer amount of time you spent on it. So from the interviewer's part it would be better to ask questions like this:

  • Do you study in your free time, or do you work on any pet project?
  • What have you gained from your personal studies?

And from your part, it would be better to give them examples and stories showing how your self-study improved your skills and experience in the past, and why you are eager to continue that. This may give a much more realistic picture of your skills and motivation to your prospective employer than telling you spend on average 1 minute or 3 hours per day studying. As well as this way you avoid the dilemma over getting committed into something you may not want to.

Even if it is employees business, then there is a risk that employee might get fired from job one day because he did not do what the employer expected even when it was not in the contract, lets say technology is updated but employee did not learn it at home.

Your free time is yours, and your employer has no right to make demands over how you use it (unless they pay you to do it - in which case it is obviously not your free time anymore). If they want to ensure you stay on top of things and learn new technology etc., they should provide adequate training, resources and schedule it out of your regular work time. Firing you for not doing something which was not in your contract would be IMHO illegal (but I am not a lawyer, this is just my personal stance - if you want to be absolutely sure, you should show your contract to a lawyer well versed in your country's employment law).

Of course, self improvement and continuous learning is in the long run beneficial to you first of all, so a wise person does invest in it; however, how much and in what form, is totally up to you. And it should also be perfectly acceptable to a good employer that you may be in a situation where you can't currently spend time on professional improvement (e.g. due to family obligations). On the other hand, if you sense that an employer is - formally or informally - expecting or obliging you to spend a set amount of your free time studying, that would be a big blinking red alert for me to avoid that company if at all possible. Such companies are most likely trying to exploit you - as long as you are willing to let them.

  • In my country most of advertisements state that employee should want to learn. Only it is not stated - when to learn - after work or during work time. But from the job interviews I have such impression that they expect you to study after work. Is it not the case in modern countries? Maybe its because I am in relatively poor country comparing to USA or Germany. – Will_create_nick_later Oct 27 '14 at 12:04
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    That companies prefer employees who are willing to learn and improve is natural, and there is nothing wrong with it. However, expecting you to spend a significant part of your free time studying is basically expecting you to work overtime for free. And it backfires for both parties in the long run. Employer doesn't get usable results from forced study, and employee gets burnout. Good companies - wherever in the world - understand this, bad companies don't. – Péter Török Oct 27 '14 at 12:25
  • "What have you gained from your personal studies?" You mean I should ask this myself? ok, I have gained some knowledge. I am not understanding how to ask then in terms of measuring this. So I measure it in hours. How much of the technologies should I learn per year? Technology is not equal to technology :| – Will_create_nick_later Oct 27 '14 at 12:26
  • @SPeed_FANat1c, I meant the interviewer could ask this in an interview. Although of course it is useful to ask yourself too ;-) The real measure of the usefulness of your studies is your improved ability to provide better solutions (in some sense) to users' problems, and/or to provide them faster / cheaper / more reliably. – Péter Török Oct 27 '14 at 12:31
  • About what is legal and what is not legal - it is your choice to work in that company or not to work. I think trying to call police because something is not legal in the company has negative effect on your "brand", I mean it might be harder to get other job and almost impossible to go back to current job. – Will_create_nick_later Oct 27 '14 at 12:37
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If you asked me this, I would never give you a numerical answer. I don't know you. How do I know what you will learn in 3 hours a day, or 1? What I care about is that you keep your skills up to date, not how long you spend doing that. What's more, if I say out loud in an interview that I expect x extra hours a day from you every day, someone could say that was mandatory overtime.

You need to accept that you will not get this number during the interview. However, you can ask questions that will answer your underlying questions, which I presume are some of:

  • will I be rewarded in this company if I put my time into studying evenings and weekends?
  • will I progress more slowly than my peers if I don't put my time into studying evenings and weekends?
  • will this company cover some of the costs of my study?

To that end, you can ask questions like:

  • do you provide training subscriptions, like Pluralsight, so that employees can watch courses at home in their free time?
  • do you send employees on courses or to conferences? Roughly how many weeks a year? Do you cover all the expenses and is time on course or at a conference considered work time, or must employees use vacation time?
  • if I wanted to go to a conference that the company doesn't cover, would I be permitted to take vacation time to do that?
  • do you have internal knowledge sharing sessions such as "lunch and learn" or "technical book club" ?
  • do you track the training and studying that employees have done on their own time? Does this figure into promotions or is that based just on the new skills and productivity I would demonstrate after completing a course?
  • how frequently do the technologies you use change? About how many hours a week do you think employees need to spend improving their skills? Is there time set aside in the work week for that?

These sorts of questions are harder for you to ask but easier for the interviewer to answer. They also clearly tell the interviewer that getting better is important to you. I believe they will also help you decide if this is a job you want or not.

  • "About how many hours a week do you think employees need to spend improving their skills? " I think you asked same as in title, just bit rephrased. "will I progress more slowly than my peers if I don't put my time into studying evenings and weekends?" - do you really think that it is good question to ask an employer? Will he not think that I might "deprogress" during time by not updating (assuming the company invests little in teaching). – Will_create_nick_later Oct 27 '14 at 12:56
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    There is a huge difference between "how much a week on average should people do, some paid, some on their own time" and "how much should I do unpaid every day?" I can't answer that second one. And no, I don't expect you to ask the first three bullets out loud to the interviewer. Those are probably what you want to know, but you can't ask it like that. That's why I gave the second list, things you can ask out loud, from which you can come to learn the answers that you want. – Kate Gregory Oct 27 '14 at 13:06
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I would not ask during the interview.

What you do on your own time is officially your own business. That said, in a quickly developing field, many people do follow new developments in the field on their own time, and employers hope that their employees do. You will not be financially compensated for this voluntary study time outside of work, but you will gain broader knowledge and that will mean you can find better jobs later, or negotiate for more salary later.

In the interview, what matters is that you come across as someone who does learn new things in his own time, who wants to keep learning, and that you have some examples ready to show that you do. Asking for a number of hours shows you don't quite understand what is meant, in my view.

Find colleagues who you admire, and ask them what they do to improve. Then find your own way.

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