hiring-related emails that are sent at night or over the weekend

I like to over-think things, so help me over-think this one:

I often enjoy working over the weekend, or late at night. I’m a night owl, for one thing, and also I like getting work out of the way so that it’s not hanging over me. However, I don’t expect anyone who works for or with me to do the same, and in fact I go out of my way to ensure that they don’t feel pressured to mirror my habits and fairly regularly encourage people not to work over the weekend and so forth.

Okay. There’s the background. Now, let’s say I’m hiring for an open position, and part of the process is going to involve email correspondence — sending an exercise to the most competitive candidates, for instance.

Now say you’re one of those candidates and you receive an email from me on a Saturday or at 11 p.m. on a weeknight. Do you conclude that if you took the job, you’d be working in a culture that would expect similar hours from you? Or do you not care? Are you just happy to get some kind of response at all and could care less what time it was sent?

Typically I try not to send hiring-related emails at crazy hours or over the weekend because of this worry. Is that worry legitimate, or is it misplaced?

{ 148 comments… read them below }

  1. Barbra Sundquist

    I think your worry is legitimate. If I was a candidate, not only would I get the impression that the company expects staff to work at all hours, I would also wonder if it was some kind of test to see how responsive I was in replying right away.

    1. Wants harder math tests!

      I agree. Having worked in the past at company with crazy work demands, I would probably go ahead with an interview or whatever, but as a candidate I would certainly consider it strike 1 against the job.

      1. Anonymous

        Ditto. Your worry is legitimate.

        Once people know you, then it’s fine to send emails at odd times.

    2. Anonymous

      I agree. I’d be thrilled to hear back about the job, but I’d a) feel compelled to respond over the weekend, and might suspect that it was some kind of “how responsive or dedicated are you” test, and b) assume that later/weekend hours are either expected company-wide or are a big part of this particular job.

      Maybe just have the drafts cued up to go first thing the next business morning?

      1. Ri

        I agree. This would stress me out, both because I would worry that I would be expected to work similar hours, and because I would worry that it is a sign that my manager has bad work boundaries (and that it may be the organizational culture to have bad work boundaries). I agree– if you want to draft the email then, do it, but don’t actually hit “send” until it’s business hours.

    3. Long Time Admin

      I agree 100% with Barbara. I’m an early morning person, so seeing an email from a prospective employer come in at 11:00 or later, I’d feel right then and there that this would not be a good match for me (right then and there being after 2 cups of coffee o’clock).

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        You guys all have me convinced to save these emails for business hours, but out of curiosity — why wouldn’t you allow for the possibility that people there work flexible hours of their own choosing, or that the person was up late and felt like getting some work done, or, hell, was on a trip overseas and in a different time zone?

        Again, I’m convinced that I shouldn’t be doing this, but I’m curious about why some of you wouldn’t allow for the full range of possibilities.

        1. Anonymous

          For me it’s an “always assume the worst” approach: if you assume you aren’t expected to respond immediately but are wrong, then you get negative points against you in your job search; if you assume that you ARE expected to respond but in fact you are not, there aren’t really any negative consequences (except in the use of your time after hours). In this job market, any assumption that could result in giving the hiring manager a negative view of you could be dangerous.

        2. Anon

          My workplace “says” they have flexible hours, but they really don’t. All of my experience with past employers confirm this.

        3. Anonymous

          If, in the first interview, you had already discussed the option that staff have the flexibility to work odd hours, I might consider the alternatives you outlined. However, I’m guessng many of us have had bad work boundaries thrust upon us at some point and they’ve turned into red flags. I doubt even including info like you like to work late, or replies won’t be screened until “x” date would offset the impression.

        4. Dan Ruiz

          I also agree with the above.

          The reason I would assume the worst is because I really have no way of knowing the truth until I’m on the job. I may either feel uncomformatable asking, “Do you all work such crazy hours? And is expected of me?” Or I may not trust that I’ll get a truthful answer.

          But the job market being what it is, I would be compelled to send off a reply ASAP for fear of failing the “how responsive or dedicated are you” test.

          Dan

        5. Anonymous

          In my case I assume it because I’ve never had the good luck to encounter an organization where flexible hours are the reason for 11 pm emails. 11 pm emails to me are a signal that work hours are all hours.

          On the issue of “up late and getting some work done” — it’s so hard to know, as an outsider, whether that really represents the best-case scenario, ie, the person loves their job, finds it engaging, occasionally likes to knock stuff out ahead of time, but on the whole is able to maintain some semblance of a life outside of work. Again, I’m probably letting my own past experience dictate my reaction, but there you have it.

        6. anonymous

          Were it me I would presume the hiring person was so busy they were just getting to the business of addressing job applicants after working all day Saturday – way out of balance between life and work and certainly a red flag

    4. Coral Sheldon-Hess

      I agree with Barbra. I also do work at odd hours, sometimes, because it suits me; however, having an IT consulting background, I find myself especially aware of (and concerned about) behaviors like that. I have promised myself no more 12+ hour days, nor working in an environment where attention to my email would be expected at all hours of the day and night.

      I’d suggest writing all the email you want, but saving it as drafts to send in the morning.

    5. Anonymous

      I work enough unpaid overtime as it is. Regardless of the reason, it would really frighten me away from a company if I received the email at 11pm on a weekend.

  2. Kristin

    If it’s for a job I really want, I’d be excited to hear from the employer at any time of day! I might save my own personal reply for business hours, but it would definitely be welcome.

    I had an HR person email me at midnight several times over a few days, but she was in a different time zone (although, she was still emailing me at 9 pm her time). If I was really concerned about it, I’d ask about it during the interview:

    “I noticed your initial emails to me were sent on Saturdays. Are employees expected to work on the weekends, or is that your personal preference?”

    1. Talyssa

      This is my answer too. It wouldn’t bother me at all – but I’d certainly be asking about it during an interview to see if that was a normal thing. It’s probably not just my organization that does this, but my team doesn’t really consider shooting off a late night email ‘working’ anyway. We all have our smartphones and if we see something we think we need to respond to we do — although I don’t read my emails on weekends/night unless there’s some planned activity going on that I want to keep an eye out for. But if I was in the middle of hiring conversations I’d probably shoot off emails at any time — maybe if it was a really weird time like 11pm on a Friday I’d add a note about there not being a company culture for working at this time or something.

      1. Natalie

        Even with smartphones, I’d feel like I needed to ask what the expectations were. Personally I don’t want to read a lot of work emails on the weekends, smartphone or no, so that’s important info for me.

    2. Keli

      I agree with Kristin. I would certainly ask about the late and weekend hours at an interview, but getting emails that were sent during those times would not prevent me from pursuing that job opening.

    3. ImpassionedPlatypi

      Yea, this is about where I am too. If I even notice the time the email was sent (after a certain number of hours, gmail only displays the date, not the time), I’d be more likely to assume it’s a personal preference and then make note to ask and make sure my assumption is correct in the interview.

      1. anonymous

        honestly, even an email sent on a Saturday, regardless of the time of day, indicates a poor work/life balance and I would be very tuned into the time expectations. I have worked on-call 24/7 and answered emails/phone at all hours but knew the requirements up front. Receiving something on a weekend would definately prompt some scrutiny

  3. Katie

    I’ve wondered about this myself. I often don’t conform to normal working hours either, so candidates do sometimes email me back to ask me why I’m “still in the office” at 11pm, or “working at the weekend”. The reality is that I might be in bed with my laptop perched on top of me (my demented way of winding down) – or catching up on emails on my smart phone from Starbucks while I wait for a friend.

    I think people are gradually getting more comfortable with the idea that not everyone works a straight 9-5, but maybe we should add a quick explantory line to our email signatures: “If you receive this email outside of office hours, it’s not because I work for an insane company – it’s just because I choose to work flexible hours!”

  4. Robert

    Honestly, with how stressful job searching can be and how bad rejection emails sting, I don’t even check my emails on the weekend. I only use a personal email account over the weekend, and I don’t even look at my professional email until the work week, and during the work week I stop looking at my email by 6 at night. I wouldn’t mind getting a late night or weekend email, but it wouldn’t be responded to until the next business day. I like to use the weekends to unwind, and at least take a quick break from the stress of job searching.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I definitely wouldn’t expect anyone to respond immediately. God no. I’d only be doing it to get my part of the work taken care of; they could take their time with their side. But of course, in a context where they don’t know me, that wouldn’t necessarily come across (unless explicitly stated, and if I have to get into making disclaimers, then that’s getting pretty complicated).

  5. Wilton Businessman

    The way technology works, you might have sent that email at 5PM on Friday and it wasn’t delivered until 11AM Saturday anyway.

    I think if that’s your work habits, then people should expect to get email from you at 11AM on Saturday morning and know that you don’t expect a reply until Monday morning. If it’s an emergency, we have these little devices called phones that we can get in contact with you.

  6. Lori

    I would worry about not responding in time. With things like assessment centres, impromptu telephone interviews, and other hiring practices that are different now from 10 or 15 years ago, I’d think this was another test to see how responsive I was. If I was about to go away for a 3-day break, I’d be worrying the entire time if I was sabotaging my own application. Of course, if the email or phone call is, “You’re hired!” then I’m happy to receive that at any time :)

  7. Working

    I would actually welcome it. Unlike Barbara, I think it takes pressure OFF of me. I do not reply to work hunting questions at work. I am not getting paid to job hunt. So when I get them at work, I feel guilty for not calling them back or emailing them back during the day, fearing that it is a test to see how responsive I am. Problem is, if I did respond, it would also be showing them how I would treat a job I was doing for them: that my personal stuff is more important than work and that I do not mind charging them for my time even when I am doing personal stuff. So I would answer emails during lunch or out in the lobby before leaving work.

    Get it at home, and I feel that I can give it the attention that it deserves without feeling guilty. I would LOVE IT if everyone contacted working job searchers in their off hours, but that is not going to happen.

  8. Jamie

    This is very interesting. I wouldn’t think anything of it, but like you, I work unconventional hours at times but would never expect that from anyone else.

    I can see now why some people would be concerned – just chalk that up to one more thing I’ve learned from the comments here.

  9. Joanna Reichert

    Agree 100% with Kristin above. I’d be psyched to hear from an employer at any time of the day, and my initial reaction would be one of joy – not considering if the employer is so unconventional as to not be a good fit. But that thought WOULD creep into my mind at some point and I would certainly ask about the non-conformist (so to speak) working hours :)

  10. JessA

    I love this question! I sometimes wonder if because I send out a resume at 2am I am going to look desperate. The reality is that I am currently working in retail while I look for a full time position in my field. Sometimes I get the closing shift and it takes me 2+ hours after I get off work to unwind and be able to go to bed. Why not be productive and send out resumes?

    I try to respond to emails / calls in a timely manner. If I receive an email in the morning and I have the early shift at work, I might not even see the email until later that evening after the sender has gone home for the day. I will try to respond before the next day begins. (Unfortunately, I don’t have a cell phone that can check email and surf the web. I realize that this could help speed things up, but the reality is that I don’t have the money for a data plan in my budget right now. With the job market being so tight right now do employers expect job seekers to have immediate accessibility – and am I at a disadvantage?)

    I think that as long as you don’t expect someone to work overnight or weekends to do an exercise or get back to you, and you let them know that this is just how you personally work, but you don’t expect it of them, I think it is fine.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      With the job market being so tight right now do employers expect job seekers to have immediate accessibility – and am I at a disadvantage?)

      The only way this might put you at a disadvantage is if you’re dealing with one of those employers who call people up for phone interviews and talk to the first 5 people they can reach and then never bother to get back to the others (even if they left messages for them). But pretty much everyone is at the same disadvantage when dealing with those employers, because even if you were available 24/7, you could always miss the call because you were in the bathroom or on another call or grocery shopping or whatever.

      1. Jamie

        The first five callers? I think those employers need to differentiate between hiring and a local radio contest for tickets to Ozzfest.

        If they aren’t calling to schedule the most viable candidates based on how they vetted their resumes, I wouldn’t have a lot of faith in the rest of their business practices.

          1. Long Time Admin

            Hah! My company only looks at the first 20 resumes submitted. They try like hell to get one viable candidate and often hire that person. If you’re # 21, tough luck.

            You’re absolutely correct when you think it’s indicative of the entire management of the company. They’re all architects and engineers – not one business-trained person among them.

  11. Scott

    Some email clients can delay the sending of an email to a time you pick in the future. This would allow you to work on the email when it is convenient for you, and yet still have an email delivered to your candidates during normal business hours.

    But back to your original question, I agree that you should be wary. I personally wouldn’t be bothered by it, but it would be a warning sign and could push the priority level of your position down compared to any other offers I might have at the same time.

    1. Shackleford Hurtmore

      I agree with the delay sending option. I often do this when working over weekends and public holidays to clear. Some people incorrectly feel that they “have” to reply to every email when it arrives, and I like to protect my team from burning themselves out answering stuff that could wait for a few days. Just because my workload means I’m sending emails at night, doesn’t mean I expect my team to. I’d rather they get some rest, enjoy their time off, and then be ready to focus when they get back to the office.

    2. Anon y. mouse

      2nd this – delayed sending times are a great way to deal with this issue! I also like the suggestion below of giving a timetable of when you expect to hear back by, that way they can be reassured that your expectations do run on normal time.

      For me, I’m happy to hear from a hiring manager at any time, although it is a red flag if it arrives during the night. It wouldn’t necessarily turn me off of the job, but it would make me dig a bit further and pay close attention to any other signs of a work-aholic environment.

  12. Helena

    Were I to receive an 11pm e-mail, I’d expect that the job would involve working crazy hours, unless the e-mail specifically had a reply by time. “Here’s the exercise, please send it back to me by Wednesday at 5 pm EST” suggests the interviewer just happens to be working late that day, no big deal. “Here’s the exercise” with no deadline has a whiff of game-playing; is the interviewer just seeing who responds by midnight? Putting the deadline in there also helps out the interviewee, because they won’t have to stay up waiting for the 1 am acknowledgement of their midnight response.

  13. George Woodward

    I am currently employed so the desire to “just hear something” is not there. That said when I have received messages from recruiters / HR at very odd hours it does cause me to pause and think carefully about culture. I have also received off hours responses that are clearly influenced by the off hours, for example to casual, and that is a HUGE problem.

    1. Jamie

      This is interesting – I am very conscious of my tone in emails to external contacts…I believe those read the same whether they were sent from my desk or my phone as I sit on the couch. My default is pretty formal and somewhat clinical – so I’m pretty safe with external communication.

      However, I do notice that I’m a lot less formal with my co-workers when I’m sending stuff off hours as opposed to from the office.

      “Please find attached the following spreadsheets” is more likely to be “here are the numbers for ____.”

      I’m also much quicker to respond with a joke from my phone, IPad, or laptop than I am from behind a bank of monitors. I think 90% of my relationship building with my colleagues has been accomplished off site/after hours.

      Great – one more area for improvement I’ve uncovered for myself. Too bad I can’t turn into after-hours me before the presentation I’m giving this afternoon. As it is I’m happy if 90% of the attendees remain awake.

      Great point though – something of which people should be aware.

  14. Erica

    I hate when my “am I crazy?” overthinking turns out to be a real issue.

    Unfortunately, I agree with the majority. I would definitely raise my eyebrow and either think it reflected the company’s culture, or at least yours – and that I may not want to work with a crazy overachiever.

    I know, that’s nuts too – but … there it is.

  15. Mike C.

    I wouldn’t think much because I’m used to people doing e-mail at weird hours, but I seem to be in the minority here. That being the case, a small postscript noting the time and how immediate responses are not expected nor a required part of the company culture would go far to alleviate the legitimate worries that many have here.

  16. Ask a Manager Post author

    This is fascinating! Apparently my over-thinking has served me well, for once.

    For the people who are saying this would be a red flag, how would you feel if the email did include a note saying something like: “Please excuse the time of this email; I sometimes work odd hours, but it’s not reflective of the culture here, and I certainly don’t expect an immediate response.”

    1. Nichole

      I suppose I’m one of the odd ones that wouldn’t care; I assume that if someone needs to talk right now they’ll call, and I often e-mail at weird hours. I just like my job and think it’s important, so I check my e-mail even at night or on days off if I can, and I like to send responses right away. Obviously a lot of people are put off by this, though, so I think addressing it in the e-mail is a good idea…I just think the proposed note is too long. It would make me wonder why you were so worried about scaring me off. I would simply say something to the effect of “Let me know what will work for you at your next convenience” or list a specific day that you need a response by. That way it’s clear that an immediate response isn’t required. I’m glad you asked, I had never even considered that people pay much attention to when an e-mail was sent, and obviously they do!

    2. Robert

      A note like that would be perfect as a footnote. Personally, for me, I wouldn’t be concerned about any odd hours associated with the company culture, but rather the concern of not replying right away.

      How about this, instead of that, put down something along the lines of “our office hours are M-F, 8:00 AM-6:00PM”. That way, you infer when it would be a good time for the candidate to send an email.

    3. Jennifer

      When I’m job searching, I check my email regularly. However, while I would love to hear back from a potential employer, I would noticed if the response was received at an odd hour (and take it to be indicative of the culture). However, like Robert, I agree that this would be a perfect footnote to quell concerns. (And of course, were I to get an interview, this is something I could bring up if I were still concerned about it.)

    4. Wants harder math tests!

      My first thought if I saw that would be “wow, this person needs training on how to schedule email delivery”, second thought is “wow this company isn’t into training”, third thought is “second red flag for this company”.

      :) sorry but there it is!

      While I myself prefer alternate work hours, the key is to make it appear that you work regular ones, and never penalize your coworkers or your company with that preference.

      1. ImpassionedPlatypi

        I don’t see why you would automatically assume that the company isn’t into training. First of all, I’ve never received training for email, and no one I know has ever mentioned getting training for email. It’s email. Yes, there are some neat little tricks for email, but overall it’s usually pretty easy to figure out. Second, even if someone were trained on the minutia of email, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll use every little trick. I agree that setting up a delivery time would be a good way to handle this situation; but it’s a personal preference, not a problem with the company and its ability to train employees.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I agree. Although thinking about this just prompted me to see if there’s any kind of add-on for Mac Mail that will allow me to do this, and I discovered a Mac script that will let me do it … so problem possibly solved!

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Eeeuww, no, never mind. I installed the script and discovered it’s ridiculously onerous. So I’ll continue to just save as drafts and hit send later.

            But I’m with you on your point about it not reflecting a training issue.

        2. Wants harder math tests!

          It’s an indication, nothing more. After all, I am interviewing the company as well. Like the HR, I look at small indicators, and if enough add up, I will decline to go further.

          My old company had lots of folks who didn’t delve into the complexities of email or anything else. They also didn’t have any kind of training on anything, nor would they buy us software we needed to do our jobs, preferring to have us use demo versions for years. Lack of focus on training indicates a general disinterest in retaining employees. IMO, in my work experience of [gasp] 40 years.

          My current company, otoh, does provide training on everything, from Java, C++, and Flash animation up to and including email should you want it. It’s just part and parcel with respecting your staff’s desire to improve themselves, and retaining/promoting those who do.

          1. Emily

            I’ve gotta say, I’m with Math Tests. Though I’m a night owl, too, receiving an email after a certain hour—say, dinner time—would raise my eyebrow. I’d wonder if it indicated a company culture of all-nighters and on-call demands OR if it indicated a certain level of desperation (e.g. are they having so much trouble filling this position that it’s keeping them up at night or are they so short-staffed that hiring is a 24-hour project?) OR even if it indicated a company culture that’s kinda free-wheelin’ and wacky and perhaps lacking structure (which might appeal to some, but I like structure!) And I’d allow myself to read too much into it and dream up all those scenarios because I’d think, “it must mean something; otherwise, why wouldn’t the sender have simply scheduled the email to send the next day?” I feel the same way about the disclaimer. I’d wonder, “why bother calling attention to the time at all when you could schedule the email to go out at another time?”

    5. Wilton Businessman

      IMHO, I think a blurb like that in an email is saying “LOOK AT ME, I’M WORKING LATE! AREN’T I AWESOME?” I’d be more turned off about that than getting an email on a Saturday.

    6. Josh S

      I added a bunch of suggestions below as an original comment. It seems all of them have been suggested by others.

      Either save as draft and send later, or add your little tag/disclaimer to the bottom. Both work for me.

    7. Jessica

      I would just give a deadline to respond as another commenter suggested. I think your line is getting too personal. If someone is writing me about a job posting at 11pm I would just think that they were working hard to fill the position.
      A deadline would let me know that you weren’t looking for an immediate response (which would be my concern more so than you working late) to take the first few people.

  17. Working

    For me, the note would make it SOOOOO much worse. I would start wondering what you were covering up that you felt you had to put a disclaimer in the email.

    Would you not find that weird in an email you got from someone applying for a job?

      1. JessA

        For me personally, I think that not including the note would do more harm than good. But that’s just me.

      2. Talyssa

        I think its conversational too – I like it because not only does it cover the issue of making someone feel 11pm and weekends are normal, it also lets them know that you as a manager are someone who actually DOES have those conversations. Someone who is willing to add a note like that is probably ALSO going to tell you things like “We do normally have one or two weekends a year where you will be on call”.

      3. Dan Ruiz

        I think the note is a good idea. This particular example is maybe a little long, but a good idea none the less.

        It tells the reader that you’re sensitive to the schedules of the people you work with (some work weird hours, some do not) and you’re accomodating.

        Dan

      4. Anon y. mouse

        Sorry, I’m with Working on this one. I’d find it much weirder that you pointed out the odd hour of your email than the odd hour itself, and I’d be trying to read between the lines like crazy. (If working late is totally not necessary and not a big deal, why is she making such a point of saying so?) I much prefer the idea of giving a timeframe in which you’d expect a response. (“Kindly respond by EoB Wednesday, as we’re looking to make a decision later this week.”) I wouldn’t read anything into that other than hey, she can communicate clear expectations! This is good!

      5. Jessica

        I think its too much information. Someone may not have noticed it before, but how has that idea in their head and is wondering why you needed to mention it. Stick with just a response deadline.

      6. Dianamh

        Am I just paranoid? I would think it’s a trick of saying something even if you didn’t mean it, like I’m supposed to read the undercurrents or know the culture or it’s another test (as others have suggested). It’s like the boss telling you it’s fine if you miss the company barbeque on Saturday because you’re sister’s having a baby shower. Then you get bad vibes on Monday and everyone’s talking about the information given out and “weren’t you there?” and you must not be a team player because you didn’t go to the BBQ, but really it’s “fine.” No, really. Fine. It’s fine.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Yes, you are all paranoid! :) Seriously, you guys are like abused spouses who have been so mistreated that you expect mistreatment everywhere else. It’s kind of depressing.

          1. Anonymous J

            Sad but true. That should give you a good idea, AAM, of how a lot of us have been treated by employers!

    1. Anonymous

      I have worked for so many people who say that they don’t expect you to work on off hours but actually do. This would make me inclined to think that even if you said you did not expect a response I really do need to respond right away and that it would be an indicator of the culture.

      1. Anonymous

        Exactly this. If I received a late-night e-mail, I would be inclined to think that late-night hours would be expected… even if occasionally. The post script makes it worse for the reason above– even though you SAY you don’t expect it, you yourself are doing it, and therefore that DOES speak to the culture of the company. Since I have also worked for people who said it was not expected when- come to find out, it actually was- an e-mail from late at night with or without PS would be a red flag.

  18. Anonymous

    I think that delaying the e-mails to people who don’t know you or your culture is a good idea. It would worry me if the first e-mail I recieved from someone was at 11 pm. It wouldn’t worry me so much if after an interview day I recieved an e-mail at 7.
    I’m happy to hear from someone, but I am not desperate for a job so I would certainly factor in a 1 am email into do I really want this job equations.

  19. Erica

    I love the post script because to me it says “We care enough about culture to let you know that we actually think about it.” and it makes me think the culture is flexible enough to allow you to work when you work best.

    1. Anon y. mouse

      Really? My experience is that the bigger deal someone makes about how great their office culture is, the more likely it’s a load of BS. Well-meaning BS, but BS all the same. Inverting what they say won’t get you the truth, but it’ll usually get you closer than what they’re actually saying. It could be because no-one worries much about their strengths, but spend a great deal of time thinking about and trying to correct weaknesses, to the point where those issues get the vast majority of their focus (positive and negative) and other non-issue areas are glossed over.

  20. a.b.

    No matter how it was meant, I’d see it as either crazy work hours, robotic bosses or some kind of crazy test to see if I’ll jump when they say. I wouldn’t want to email a future employer late at night, and I’d rather they do the same for me.

  21. BossLady

    I too think it sends the message that its a culture of working crazy hours and the disclaimer doesn’t help much. Sorry.

    I would suggest using solutions others have suggested like preparing all the drafts but waiting till 9am on Monday to hit send, etc.

    Also I wonder if it is actually true that the culture of this workplace doesn’t demand such hours. (I don’t know you and it might not be, but worth exploring.) You do it. Do many others, especially those in leadership positions? If so, that might be setting the example that is forming the culture, intentionally or not.

    That said, we have “one guy” in a leadership position who sends emails here at 2am, and everyone just sort of makes light of it, including the owners and upper management. So a single person doesn’t ruin it for everyone, but I think in our case the fact that upper management are laughing about it is critical, which makes it incredibly contextual and not so obvious to an outsider.

  22. Anna

    Alison, since you’re a consultant, I wonder if you conduct some of your work email from a Gmail account? There’s a plugin called Boomerang that lets you schedule the sending of emails. I used it once when I was communicating with someone in a drastically different timezone.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I don’t, but that’s a good solution. Currently, I’ve been writing the email and just saving them as drafts until it’s a more reasonable hour to hit Send, but I was hoping you guys would tell me that I was overthinking it and that I could hit Send whenever I wanted. Clearly I shouldn’t, and this has been really informative!

      1. BossLady

        Allison, I totally forgot you are no longer in an office-gig. So disregard my 3rd para. Sorry.

  23. Anonymous

    I would delay the e-mails.

    Also, if you must send e-mail on a weekend, please use specific dates. As in, “I will see you on Tuesday, January 5” instead of “I will see you tomorrow, (where tomorrow really means Tuesday, because although I am sending you this e-mail on Sunday, I don’t expect you to see it until Monday, in which case ‘tomorrow’ would mean Tuesday.)”

    Unfortunately, I saw just such an e-mail on a Sunday, and spent that day working in a panic to get ready for a Monday meeting, when the meeting was really on Tuesday. Not so fun.

  24. Rebecca

    In today’s world of connectivity, lots of people work non-traditional hours. I think a little note explaining that you sometimes work odd hours and are not expecting a reply outside of business hours would be great. I received an email on a Friday evening asking me to call as soon as possible about a job I had applied for. I called immediately and went straight to voicemail – then had kind of an anxious weekend. If she had included a note to explain the timing of her email, or to say please call Monday morning, it would have been appreciated!

  25. EngineerGirl

    I like the note. It let’s me know that there is a wide range of acceptable schedules (a good thing) and reasonable expectations. Without that context I would be really worried. I had a nutter boss that would send out emails at 11 pm and expect a response by 7 am the next day. It was a horrible dysfunctional program that had numerous severe technical issues due to bad management.

    So yes, some of us need that clarification or we’d run. Fast.

    1. Aaron

      I agree with the note idea. I had a boss whose entire life revolved around work and couldn’t comprehend why employees wouldn’t be on their emails late at night or answer routine-question calls before 7am. So, me personally, I’m a little hesitant to receive correspondence during typically non-working hours. If I were a new-hire and still figuring out the company culture, I think the disclaimer is a nice way of letting me know that there are no expectations for me to handle (most) work related matters late into the night.

      Yet, from a candidates point of view, I’m not sure of how to input the disclaimer without it seeming a little on the unprofessional side.

  26. Anonymous

    I like to work late the same way, but it would still make me worry about expectations.

    I’d use your email client to delay delivery (in Outlook: go to the Options tab of the email, select Delay Delivery on the More Options section, and choose your date/time to deliver).

    You could also just write the email, save as a draft, and send all your drafts on Monday morning. That does mean you have to touch it twice, but you might like the review.

  27. Interviewer

    If this candidate is someone you figure out pretty quickly during your screening that you want to keep in the recruiting process, I’d bring it up casually rather than adding a disclaimer to the email. “Look, I work odd hours and occasionally you might see an email from me very late at night. Please know that the clients I work for don’t expect these kind of hours, but sometimes I stay up late and get some tasks sorted out while it’s quiet and I can focus on them. If I ever send you an email in the middle of the night, I won’t ever expect an immediate response from you. Normal business hours will be perfectly fine for everyone involved here.” That kind of thing. It could naturally lead to a discussion of the hours/culture/etc., which would be good for candidates to hear up front.

    I think the disclaimer is a great idea in theory, but would probably raise far more questions than it answers. In lieu of the verbal reassurance up front or the email disclaimer, I’d draft and delay sending until normal business hours. Receiving late night work-related emails gives a false sense of urgency, in my humble opinion.

    1. Meredith

      “Look, I work odd hours and occasionally you might see an email from me very late at night. Please know that the clients I work for don’t expect these kind of hours, but sometimes I stay up late and get some tasks sorted out while it’s quiet and I can focus on them. If I ever send you an email in the middle of the night, I won’t ever expect an immediate response from you. Normal business hours will be perfectly fine for everyone involved here.”

      This comment would make me concerned too. Unless I would be supervising you in my job responsibilities for the company, I don’t want to hear a discussion on what hours that the interviewer works and why. It would make me think that my future coworkers are overly concerned about each other’s schedules -or- that the company values butt-in-seat time instead of results. Neither one is a good thing in my opinion.

  28. Sarah

    I’m another vote in the camp of “it would make me worry”. Your rationale for doing it makes perfect sense, but sadly, there are way too many people and companies who work crazy hours and expect the same, so I think it’s automatic for people to be wary of jumping into that kind of atmosphere.

  29. Hannah

    You wouldn’t call a candidate outside of business hours, even with a similar disclaimer. It would be too invasive and wouldn’t seem professional. Email is a lot less formal when it’s with someone you know, but when emailing a stranger, I think it’s a good idea to use the same level of courtesy that you would on the phone with a stranger. I would stick with your system of sending your drafts during business hours.

    1. Jamie

      I don’t think an email is analogous to a phone call. Phone calls are invasive and immediate – it’s assumed the caller wants to speak to you right now. So if I get a call in the middle of the night it had sure better rise to the definition of true emergency.

      By contrast email is non-invasive. You can check and respond when it’s convenient for you to do so.

  30. SME

    Late last week I got a hiring-related email at 2:47am. My only reaction in the morning when I received the email was, “WOOHOO! I’m so awesome he wrote to me in the middle of the night!”

  31. anon-2

    One software firm that was known for its eccentric HR processes once called me at 10:30 pm …. I decided at that stage, that the company ran too much like a “zoo” for my liking and I withdrew my candidacy.

  32. Natalie

    If I noticed the time, it’s definitely something I’d bring up in the interview. As overused as the phrase is, work life balance is pretty damn important to me. A company that expects me to be available by email 24/7 is not a place where I’m going to be happy.

  33. Samie

    For me it would depend on the company. If it’s a small business, with the owner being the person to do all of the hiring, then I don’t give it much thought, but otherwise, yes, I do think it may cause worry in some applicants.

  34. Clobbered

    I personally wouldn’t like that note – my first reaction would be “the lady doth protest too much”.

    But then I would see nothing wrong with getting email at a weird hour. Many people have a catch-up email session before going to bed, often this is because they leave the office early (eg. on the school run). I would definitely not assume that someone who mailed me at 11pm has been working continuously since 9am.

    1. Liz in a library

      This is my feeling. I definitely wouldn’t see it as an immediate red flag, because I tend to communicate at odd hours myself.

    2. Anon y. mouse

      That is what I was trying to say, thanks. The email at an odd hour is something I’d notice and look into further, but wouldn’t worry about too much as I’ve worked with people who do that. A note would seem out of proportion to the situation.

  35. Dawn

    If I got an email that late at night or on a weekend from a prospective employer, it would be a red flag for me and it would make me think twice about pursuing employment there. It would make me wonder if I was expected to reply on the weekend, or if it was safe to wait until Monday. I wouldn’t totally disregard the company, but I would definitely ask qauestions about the company culture during the interview.

    If you used MS Outlook you would be able to schedule your emails to be sent at a certain time, but since you don’t I assume the only option is to save the draft and send it later.

  36. lm

    I’d be very happy to get a response, but I’d be concerned that these types of hours are expected.

    Rather than the longer disclaimer, I think some sort of deadline (ex: please complete this by 5pm on the 29th) would alleviate the worry that I’d need to respond right away or risk missing out. I’d probably discuss the time expectations in person, but it wouldn’t be a big red flag.

    Also, I would definitely send the reply during normal hours, even if I worked on it at night or the weekend.

  37. Revanche

    For health and work reasons, I’ve had instances where I’ve been derailed entire business days and so then had to do my work at nights or on weekends instead, which includes making calls and following up with candidates.

    I’ve always explained that they’re not at all obligated to commit to the conversation or noted that they’re not being asked to respond during off hours to the email at the time I send it but that it’s my own personal constraints that are the cause.

    Then, too, I do maintain that standard for our staff despite management who work whatever sane or not sane hours as necessary. My staff are expected to work regular hours and I do pay overtime if they work it and allow flex time if they request it and so on. None of this blind eye to the “extra hours that I expect but won’t pay” business (as I know has happened in other orgs before).

    I’m only pointing this out specifically because while there may be an indication that the hiring manager/actual manager is crazy in sending communications at less than ideal hours, that may be the only way you’re going to be contacted or offered a job because that particular individual is overloaded but that doesn’t always mean you’re going to be held to the same standard. I make sure to the best of my ability that my staff’s lives are much better than mine and much more reasonably organized by an objective measure for their roles, not just a comparative one.

  38. Jamie

    This is kind of fascinating, actually…this comment thread is so enlightening, a red flag to some is completely irrelevant to others. And how much we (and I absolutely do it too, with other matters) can infer intent which was never there.

    Don’t get me wrong, I now totally see why some people would be wary of this – but as it’s something I wouldn’t have thought twice about it makes me wonder how many of my own assumptions about other stuff may have no basis in how it was intended.

    I just think it’s really interesting how we all read this differently.

  39. Domart

    I would appreciate the disclaimer – it would indicate an actual concern for life-work balance. But I wouldn’t read too much into a late email; I’d be more excited just to hear back from someone!

    What about the reverse situation – do hiring managers see red flags if applicants email at odd hours?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I don’t, at all … but then I’m doing work at weird hours myself. It’s hard for me to imagine what kind of problem a hiring manager could have with a candidate emailing at an odd hour though. I mean, there’s always someone who will have a problem with something, but in general I wouldn’t worry about that at all.

  40. Delphine

    Funny that you mention this topic : I am in a recrutement process where they proposed (by late email) a phone intervew friday night or saturday (following a first interview with HR).
    I am not sure about the hours… excet that they might be long.

    1. Revanche

      As to this, I’ve actually had candidates offer themselves up for weekend interviews to accommodate scheduling. I’ve never taken them up on it, but. There you go.

  41. A.

    I have been part of a hiring process where I received emails at odd hours, and I was a little surprised by it. I would get emails after 10pm and wonder why they were coming at that time of night. I wanted the job and pursued it, but it definitely created a question in my mind of why the manager was working those hours and how many people at the company worked that way.

    I didn’t and wouldn’t in the future completely rule out the job because of it and did reply promptly to the emails that were sent, but I think it can raise a bit of a flag. Although for the most part I’m not required to work those late hours or weekends at the job I was hired for, a lot of people at the company actually do.

  42. Josh S

    Ooh! An “Ask A Populace” question from AAM? So…meta…must…answer…

    I think that yes, it does send a signal to potential hires, if you don’t take one of several steps to mitigate the signal.

    You could:
    -Write the email(s), but save it/them as drafts until working hours, then click send. (Use a reminder on your task if you need to.) This gets the work done but avoids the late night time stamp.
    -Use your email service’s “Send later” feature (if you have one).
    -Have some boilerplate you copy into such notes if sent after 6pm on a workday or on a holiday: “I recognize I am sending this email outside of normal business hours, which is indicative of my work habits and not the corporate culture. Please do not feel obligated to respond at this odd hour.” (This even seems to be in line with your own philosophy of being transparent about expectations with underlings/candidates/future co-workers.)
    -Set a deadline for response. “Please return the exercise by 5pm on Wednesday, June 29.”

    Yes, it does send an awkward message, but it’s one that’s easily dealt with.

  43. Joanna Reichert

    This blew up a lot bigger than you were anticipating, I’ll bet :)

    A simple note about replying during business hours would be great. Personally, I love conversational emails with businesses, as it puts me at ease (which is something all job seekers appreciate) and makes me feel that I’m not dealing with a bunch of robotic people who have no sense of humor or warmth. But there’s familiar, and there’s conversational with overtones of professional, and as long as you have a clear idea of what each one looks like, it shouldn’t be a problem.

  44. Talyssa

    You know what would have been really really awesome? If we could sort these responses by “I currently have a job” “I currently have a job but am actively looking” “I currently have a job but am passively looking” “I am unemployed and job hunting”.

    I just wonder what the variance is. Or heck, it’d be cool to see industry too maybe. Just curious if there is some kind of pattern – like if the people who said it was a red flag are mostly “currently employed, actively looking”.

      1. Long Time Admin

        Currently working, actively looking, anticipating being laid off due to no work coming in to the company, trying to hold on until I can retire, depressed and confused.

      2. Anon y. mouse

        Currently working and very happy with my job. I’d notice a late email but it wouldn’t be a huge concern, while a disclaimer attached to the email explaining how I’m not expected to reply right away would raise the BS flags right quick. I think this is more based on past experience than current work status, at least for me.

  45. mouse

    A possible solution – lettermelater.com. Since I’m a night owl but am looking for office work, I frequently find myself sending cover letter/resume emails at 11 pm. I schedule them with Letter me later to go out at a normal hour so that it doesn’t look weird to potential hiring managers. I originally stumbled onto the program when I was the office manager for a non-profit theatre company I would work on audience and media correspondence at like 2 am but schedule the emails to go out during business hours. The site lets you compose from their interface or through your own email program. Seriously, can’t recommend them enough.

  46. HRanon

    I, too find this fascinating… I am surprised at the number of people who feel compelled to respond to email “promptly” – even in the job search context. I mean, it’s EMAIL! The point of email (as opposed to phone calls) is to allow you to respond at your convenience.

    Lots of job seekers are either working or job seeking/interviewing during regular business hours and I always feel that within one *business* day is plenty prompt. And lots of hiring managers or HR personnel are busy- especially when hiring and if trying to fill positions in their own department. (Read currently understaffed.)

    I guess bottom line, I would feel that if not responding immediately to a weekend email would put me out of contention, I would take that as self-selecting me out of a job I don’t really want.

  47. Y

    I agree that it would make me a bit wary. Conversely, how would you feel if a prospective employee e-mailed/applied for a job late at night or in the wee hours of the morning? Would that look weird or bad? Would that weigh in on your opinion of them?

    1. Jessica

      I hope it doesn’t. I am currently working and looking for another position for when this contract ends. I often send resumes at 1-2am. I would think that late emails wouldn’t raise flags when they are from the potential candidate.
      It would be rude of me to send such emails while at my other job.

  48. Rebecca

    I always use delay send if I’m replying to emails late at night so people won’t know I’m working late and also so I don’t get a response back right away. I only work late when I’m trying to catch up, and a response usually means it’s back on my plate.

    Finally, I don’t want to set an expectation that I’m always on email after normal business hours.

  49. Jennifer

    I’m pursuing a career in theatre, where weird hours are the norm – particularly in stage management. Stage managers send out rehearsal and performance reports after each day of work, which can either be fairly reasonable or very late. As I’m often being interviewed by some form of manager (whether the resident stage manager or the production manager or the artistic director), I know that the timestamp is actually an indication of culture.

    However, there have certainly been interviewers who have only e-mailed me within the 8am to 6pm slot, even though they’d be up at the theatre much later. So perhaps it cannot always be an indicator of company culture, but rather personal preference. But obviously if it triggers a red flag for someone seeking employment, they should definitely ask about it.

    I think a very brief note is fine. I remember getting an e-mail from a college recruiter written in ALL CAPS, which had a caveat at the bottom explaining that it was his normal method of correspondence. (I don’t know why. Maybe it saved him time? Regardless, I’m glad he had a note there.)

  50. Suzanne Lucas

    I had the same concerns at my last job. So, our email system allowed us to write an email in advance and then set a time to send it. So, I’d do the work when I was working and then set the email to deliver at 9:00 the next morning or something.

    Now, if was working with other people like me, I’d just go ahead and hit send and often times would get a response right back.

    Urgh.

    Wasn’t expected though.

  51. Clobbered

    I have been totally confused by these responses. I mean, if you are going to jump to conclusions, why not jump to the conclusion that if you only get emails 9-5 from an employer that they frown on flexible hours and value bums on seats more than getting the job done?

    On one hand we bemoan the lack of flex time and on the other we freak out if we get an email at a funny time?

    Certainly an email that comes in at midnight should not say “respond in two hours”. Certainly if you are asking people to send you stuff you should ALWAYS indicate your timeline. But I can’t help feeling anything else is overkill. I know I would much rather work for an employer that was cool about knocking off a couple of hours early to take my kid to the doctor and trusted me to catch up later. THAT is work life balance.

    1. Natalie

      Speaking only for myself, I feel more screwed by a place with insane workloads and unreasonable hours than I feel by a place with flex time. Then again, I don’t have kids or anything and I live very close to my job, so flex time isn’t as huge a benefit to me as it may be to someone else.

  52. LJL

    I’ve been in that position. I didn’t think anything odd, but it did give me a good question for the interview: “what are the expectations of working in nonstandard business hours?”

  53. Snippet

    Interesting question! I actually left a job a few months ago because of the lack of work/life balance, so this would definitely be a red flag for me.

    I am all for flex time, but a note like that, far outside of working hours might make me think that everyone works crazy hours (i.e. many hours per week), and I’d be hesitant.

    Seems like the easiest thing to do would just save the draft and send during normal hours!

  54. yasmara

    This thread made me think of an issue on my current team. I manage a team of writers spread out across the U.S. & in Israel. In many cases, the time window to meet together (phone) in normal business hours is very small & gets filled by people above me, which means I have to schedule around their existing meetings. We try to conduct as much business as possible via email, but sometimes a phone call is necessary.

    Because of our time zone challenges, the people in Israel have to be willing to work at night. It seems like in our field, there are a number of “night owl” types who haven’t found it too difficult.

    In contrast, the people on the U.S. West Coast/Mountain time have to put up with early morning meetings – often starting at 6 or 7 a.m. This has worked out a lot better with writers who are naturally “morning people.” (There’s no requirement for anyone to leave home & go to an office at 6 a.m., it’s a toll free call everyone takes from home). I have two writers on my team who are NOT morning people & they really struggle with these early meetings, to the extent that you can hear it in their voices & their apologies for being “foggy” so early in the morning. We have discussed the necessity for these meetings & explored other scheduling options, but it’s pretty unavoidable.

    For new hires on the West Coast/Mountain time zone, I have started warning interviewees about this requirement, but I suspect that few people would say anything but “not a problem” in today’s job market.

    We also have the added challenge that the Israeli work week is Sun – Thurs, while the U.S. work week is Mon-Fri.

    The move to a more global workplace/market seems to increase the pressures on employees & employers to be available 24/7. The price of a flexible schedule does seem to be increased expectations for availability. If I’ve started my day with a 6 a.m. conference call, I often duck out around 4 to run an errand & pick up my kids, then after they are in bed, I’m back online to catch up with work.

    I get a lot of internal emails timestamped at odd hours, so it would never have crossed my mind that it would be an issue. I will say that in my case, the expectation *is* that some odd ours are required, so it’s better to set that expectation right at the beginning and be up front about it. Great food for thought!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I would say in your case that the key is to be very up-front during the hiring process about those early morning meetings and anything else unusual that might be expected time-wise. If someone says that’s fine with them because they just want to get the job, that’s not really your problem — you were up-front about what the job required and they agreed to it. From there, you shouldn’t have guilt about enforcing those requirements, because your staff knowingly signed up for that. (That said, if there are ways to make it easier on them, it would be a nice thing to do.)

  55. Anonymous

    I think the only time I have looked at the time stamp was if the e-mail was dealing with something urgent. It’s kind of funny to see how impassioned your readers are!

    1. Dawn

      I suspect the reason may be that many responders have been in a situation where work/life balance didn’t exist and are “on the lookout” in order to avoid similar situations in the future.

      1. Anonymous

        But that’s where I find it most interesting – some responders feel that is a sign of no balance, and others feel it is a sign of balance. Odd and interesting to me!

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I agree. To me that says people should lean toward giving the employer the benefit of the doubt and try to get a better sense in the interview.

  56. Liz

    It seems to me that the issue is job-seekers are seeking on their personal time, while the employer is seeking candidates on work time. Therefor I expect an email from the hiring company to be sent during their on-the-clock time. Granted, to me this is a pretty wide range; I wouldn’t think anything of a time stamp between 5am and 7pm. People like to work different hours. But I suppose that is my personal definition of “normal business hours.”*

    On the other hand, a job seeker might have a job (we’ll say 9-5), a family (make dinner, bathe the kids, etc), or other obligations that prevent them from attending to emails until late at night.

    So I guess what I’m saying is, it would seem weird to me that an employer is emailing late at night, but if I were in the hiring manager’s shoes, I wouldn’t think anything of an email from a prospective employee late at night.

    *Unless of course the company operates late hours or 24/7. Then it would be perfectly normal at any hour.

  57. Jeff

    It would actuallly make me feel like I was an important candidate. For someone to respond to me so late at night makes me think that they care about not only me as a candidate, but that they are truly dedicated to finding the right person. I think this is a positive thing.

  58. Lisa

    This thread is ultra long, but I personally would love it. I am a night owl and would be excited to get an email at a time when I can impress by responding immediately despite the late hour. I might not draw any conclusions about culture from the message at all (because emailing at 11 PM is so “something I would do” in any corporate culture that I’d be unlikely to see it as a reflection on any more than the individual) but if you pressed me to make an assumption, it would be that the corporation is flexible about hours and understands that some people are most productive at night.

    1. Jamie

      When I send my middle of the night emails I never expect a response until the next day – but it’s cool when a co-worker happens to be up and doing the same thing and it’s a happy surprise to get a response and maybe get something done.

      I received an email once in the wee hours – somewhere between 3:00-4:00 am from a co-worker asking be to troubleshoot a tech issue. Email was clearly marked as not urgent – get to it when you can…so imagine his surprise when I told him I was remoting into his laptop to take a look right then.

      I just happened to be up nursing the residuals of a migraine – I was bored and glad for the distraction.

      It’s the one and only time I’ve been helpful in a non-crisis situation at 3 something am.

      My rambling point is, I like co-workers who also keep goofy email hours…it’s nice to have company and makes me feel less crazy.

  59. Kaleigh

    This is tough. Most of the time, when I receive an e-mail from someone late at night or early in the morning, I just assume I’m not actually the first priority, so they’re doing the majority of their correspondence during the day and if they like to work at late hours, that’s their deal. But if it’s a prospective employer, I might get intimidated and think they’re expecting me to work similar hours (maybe not quite as intense, but still working at odd times). Maybe it’s because I’m young and have the energy still, but that doesn’t worry me as much as it might others.

  60. Jennifer

    Personally, I don’t care at all when it was sent. What matters to me is what kind of time I’m allowed to complete it. (For instance, don’t send it to me, say, Sunday afternoon and say it’s due by Monday at 8:00am!)

    When I’m not working a corporate job and am able to work at my own pace, I tend to work according to my body’s rhythms and take down time when I’m not at my best. Sometimes, that means I work early in the morning and then again between 9pm and, say, midnight. ;)

  61. wits

    When I was offered my current position, my boss called me at home in the early evening. I was actually thrilled that she called then instead of during business hours, as I was employed at another organization that didn’t know I was looking elsewhere. It would have been awkward to have a conversation about starting dates, salary, etc, in front of my then co-workers.

  62. curious

    I got an email invitation to interview sent by the team secretary over the weekend. It was an immediate red flag for me, the time and the fact it was a secretary sending it – I would never expect a secretary to work on the weekend in a large business and I raised it at interview with – I received my invitation from Carol the day after I applied, which happened to be a Saturday. That’s an amazing turn around and real dedication. Is it usual in the company culture for staff to work unusual hours?

    An email on the weekend or very late at night means I will assume it’s how the company works and not want to work there. I did it for years and then found colleagues knew that I would be online so they tried to pressure me into working more than I should have with – Hey curious, I know you’re probably online anyway so could you get me that report on Sunday so I can sent it out first thing Monday instead of Tuesday. Now I am turned off as soon as I get a hint of such an environment.

  63. Clobbered

    I have finally figured out what has been bothering me in these reponses (slow, I know)

    To all those suggesting that the email is rescheduled during business hours… Isn’t that deceptive? I mean, it comes across as “I was working late at night and I want to hide this fact from the candidate”. I don’t think hiding things from the candidate is what AaM is all about.

  64. Aaron

    I am late to this thread, but nonetheless I am helpless to fight my compulsion to share my thoughts with the internet…

    If you were hiring me for a non-HR position, I wouldn’t be worried about it. I wouldn’t think that whether HR has a culture of weird hours would translate to my job (unless your office is fewer than 10 people). If, on the other hand, you were hiring me for an HR job (especially under you), I might be concerned.

    A disclaimer, though, might actually make me more concerned. When I am told by others that they enjoy working long hours, but that I don’t need to, it makes me wonder what the true consequences for me will be if I don’t work those hours–will I miss out on promotions, for example? I’m sure that, in person, you are able to get your sincerity across, but I’ve had plenty of bosses who do the pretend-to-respect-your-time-but-don’t shtick: “Oh, are you headed out? Well, I don’t want to spoil your evening, so by all means keep your plans, but please have this done by 9AM tomorrow.”

    If I were you, I’d probably just save drafts of my e-mails, and send them all during business hours… or, if you do a good job about describing the hours culture in the rest of the hiring process, just send the e-mails whenever you’re working on them and don’t worry about it.

  65. Laura

    I am a recent college graduate who just got a great job through a very difficult interview process. I got many emails at off hours from hiring managers and was VERY HAPPY. I was sitting pins and needles waiting for emails so I was very glad to hear on saturday rather than waiting until Monday.

  66. Phyr

    Personally I wouldn’t think anything of it other then ‘thank god I got a response’. If I got constant after hour response I would probably ask about it just to put my mind at ease. If you are concerned about it just mention it in the interview and watch people relax. :3

  67. Kara

    I don’t think it would bother me. I once had an interview who offered to give a telephone interview on a Saturday afternoon, since I had a day job. I thought it was very thoughtful!

  68. Joe

    I know I’m late to this party (been too busy to catch up on AAM lately!), but wanted to throw in my $0.02 to the discussion.

    I would not be concerned in the slightest about receiving an email at any hour, for several reasons:

    1) The person who is sending me emails about the position is usually not the person I’m going to be working for, but rather someone on HR, and they may have different hours. Work culture is usually not company wide, unless it’s a really small company, so different teams will have different expectations.

    2) In my field (IT), a lot of places offer a lot of flexibility, so just because someone on my team is working at an hour I wouldn’t work (8AM, or 11PM, or a weekend) doesn’t make me think I would need to.

    But most importantly, 3) I will always bring this up during an interview, and make sure that the expectation is set for the kind of hours I will be working, and then will stick to it. I don’t want a job that wants me to regularly work long hours or weekends, or be on call 24/7, and they don’t want me, so I make sure this comes up when I talk to them. (This kind of thing is fine in an exceptional situation, but it’s the exception, not the rule.) If it’s a problem, then I’m better off without that job. And when the expectation is set, I stick to it, and make sure my manager knows that I will not accept a broad expansion of my work hours.

    I know that I have a luxury that others don’t always have, in that I’m employed, and I’m able to set and maintain certain boundaries. But I also think that more people have the power to do this than realize it, so I always encourage people to try to maintain more control over their work life.

  69. Late Lacey

    As an HR professional I totally understand how you feel. I love to work late not because there aren’t any distractions. Typically, HR is the first interaction a candidate has with a company therefore setting the tone. Employees often mimic what they see in efforts to fit the “workplace culture”. Organizational Communication 610

    There was a VP in my organization that frequently sent emails at 2am & 3am. Usually the next day someone would make a joke asking if I had a chance to read the “important” email that broke their sleep. If someone has ever asked you at work “why or what were you doing up at that hour”, chances are they think your weird.

    It can be mistaken as insensitive (not caring about someone’s work/life balance). *Nancy Regan voice* Just Say No. Only contact candidates during normal business hours.

    What I typically do is create all my emails and save them as a draft. The next morning after 6am hit send. Problem solved.

    1. Late Lacey

      Oh, I make it a point to ask what is the best time to reach you. It may seem old fashion but Manners & RESPECT never go out of style. Im only 33.

  70. Anonymous

    What about the other way around? Do hiring managers or professionals pay attention to the times that potential employees email? For instance, I am emailing you perhaps to schedule an informational lunch, but I send the email at like 11:00 pm…or even 4:00 am (of course with full knowledge and expectation that you will not see it until the following day). Is this improper? I work full time and am in night school so many times these times (and the weekends) are the only times I have a chance to email.

  71. Amro

    My worry as applicant would be two things:
    1. If it was a test for I have a good sleeping routine.
    2. If the company is legitimate. Unprofessional hours give a wrong vibe. You could easily avoid that by including a statement about the hours you are sending emails and include another sentence on why there is no test or anything else written above that can create worry.

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