Talking about Side Hustles in Interviews

During an interview a few years ago our candidate told us that he owned a small business, he assured us it would not be a distraction.  The candidate was smart, articulate and had an entrepreneurial spirit, these are all skills that we were looking for. We interviewed him and he did very well, he was a great candidate.

When I mentioned this candidate to my colleagues there were differing opinions on whether or not we should hire him, and the opinions were strong.   Several said, “absolutely not”, others were more open minded and thought we should use our “gut” to assess the candidate’s commitment. There were concerns that he was using our job for the benefits or to finance his small business.  As it turned out the concerns were not warranted.

It is becoming more and more common for people to have a side hustle.  Since there are so many people with side hustles the question is should it be on your resume? Should you bring it up in an interview?  How big a deal should you make it?  Unfortunately, the only answer is “it depends”.

Here are some things to consider:

  • What is the side hustle? If you are selling items on E Bay or occasionally babysitting on the side, employers will not likely be concerned unless you are competing with them or it creates a conflict of interest. (i.e.) If you are applying for a job in a day care center and they prohibit staff from soliciting babysitting business from their customers, you will have to tread lightly as you discuss your experience with children.  You must be clear that you will follow all center policies.
  • What are the requirements of the job? If the job requires 50-60 hours a week and they want total dedication, they probably do not want to share your time and attention with a second job.
  • Last but not least, what is the company culture?  If it is a company that prides itself on employee dedication there will be an unwritten and unspoken expectation that you are focused only on their work.  Do not find out in the interview, find out by contacting someone who works at the company (not your interviewer). Do not underestimate culture, it ultimately drives all decisions.

If it comes up in an interview discuss it like any other job. If you are very excited about your side hustle but not as excited about the job, you might as well pack your bags. They will know the job will not be your priority.

Companies understand that side hustles are a fact of life, but they do not have to like it.   They want to hire once and find the right people the first time.  Sharing an employee with another job or a passion can be scary for an employer.  Do not give them a reason to pass on a great hire.

Lindsey Levine was in the corporate world for 30 years in a Sales Management Position where one of his key responsibilities was hiring. He transitioned to his new career and is the principal of Lindsey Levine Resume and Interviewing Preparation.

Talking about Side Hustles in Interviews

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