What you should know before hiring part-time employees
Part-time employment usually refers to working less than 40 hours per week. Consider hiring part-time employees to:
- Address seasonal needs and peak demand (e.g. holiday season in retail)
- Determine whether an employee is a good fit before offering full-time employment
- Cover various shifts throughout the day
- Get help for specific projects
To attract the right candidates, make sure to clearly advertise that you’re looking for part-time employees. You could also include knockout questions, either on your job application forms or during screening calls, to avoid dealbreakers later in the hiring process.
Examples of part-time job interview questions
- What days and times are you available to work?
- This position involves occasionally working in different shifts (e.g. night or weekend shifts.) What’s your availability and how flexible are you?
- Given the opportunity, would you be interested in working full-time in the future?
- Why did you apply for this job? What do you expect to gain from this experience?
- What are your long-term career goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
- What would you do if your shift ended and your colleague who works the next shift hadn’t arrived yet?
- What would you do if you found a pile of Post-it notes or emails with unfinished tasks from a colleague who worked the previous shift?
- How do you handle stress? (e.g. managing multiple clients at the same time) Explain how you’d react to a stressful situation, using examples from your work experience.
How to interview candidates for part-time positions
- Understand local labor laws governing part-time employment. Depending on where you operate, you might have different legal obligations for full-time and part-time workers. During interviews, be prepared to explain to candidates working schedules, contract terms, wages, bonuses and benefits.
- Avoid interview questions that could raise legal risks. Asking “Do you have family commitments that prohibit you from taking a full-time job?” might make parents feel uncomfortable if they have to explain their family commitments. Instead, mention your available shifts and ask candidates whether this schedule would work for them. Read this list of illegal interview questions to make sure your interviews are legally sound.
- Stick to job-related criteria. Part-time employees are classified as part-time for a reason: they shouldn’t be expected to work at a full-time level. Evaluate candidates using structured techniques (e.g. situational interview questions and skills assessment tests) to determine whether they’re qualified for the role.
- They’re not available to work different shifts. For certain industries and roles, it’s important to be flexible. For example, salespeople in retail stores should be available to take on their colleagues’ shifts when needed or work different schedules during peak seasons. If candidates have commitments that create scheduling conflicts, they mightn’t be a good fit for these types of roles.
- They prefer full-time employment but you only offer part-time jobs. Some candidates see part-time jobs as stepping stones to full-time positions. If you want to retain employees in the long-run and you don’t have opportunities for full-time jobs, be transparent. Hire people who prefer to work part-time, not full-time.
- They are not a culture fit. Part-time employees don’t just fill gaps – they take on important projects and achieve results. Hire people who understand your mission, want to contribute to your company’s successes and are good culture fits.