I'd love to work here...in two months.
May 16, 2012 7:55 PM   Subscribe

I have an interview tomorrow. I had a phone interview that went well enough that they’ve asked me to meet other people on the team in person. The job seems like a good fit for my skills and based on what I’ve learned so far, I’d like the job. The issue: I’ve planned a month-long trip for July.

This trip is already paid for, business-class airfare and apartment. It’s a splurge for my birthday that I can just afford and it would be great to come back to a job. (I’ve also invited my nieces to come for the last week of July as graduation presents.)

I’m a francophile and try to go to France every couple of years. I’m on a, seemingly, eternal quest to speak French fluently and I’m planning to sign up for French classes while there. (I’ve already decided on a school and such but haven't paid yet.) I also really need a job. I’ve been freelancing for a friend and that has worked out great, thus the trip, but that gig just ended.

So, how and when do I mention this during the interview and perhaps hiring process? I would like to start August 1st. One aspect of the job is for experience with a not widely used/known system and I have that knowledge even though it’s a bit rusty. The other aspect of the job is for important but not too uncommon skills. I would be willing to work remotely or to start coming up to speed before working in the office. Since this isn’t my first French trip, I’m not doing lots of touristy stuff, been there done that. My goal is to live more like a native so holding down a job would be fine.

Any suggestions on when to mention my trip up and how to favorably position myself as great for the job while negotiating a later start date than I suspect they’ll expect? They do have European offices and the job includes working with those locations but I don’t know to what extent. Obviously, it's a non-issue if they don't want to hire me but do I bring it up before or after an offer? After seems bad form and before could kick me out of the running.
posted by shoesietart to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
When they make an offer and ask about start dates, that's when you tell them your scheduling conflicts. This should not be a big deal. Many people have pre-planned vacations, especially in the summertime, and as long as you're okay with the idea that you might have to take this month as unpaid time off, you should be fine.
posted by xingcat at 8:14 PM on May 16, 2012 [8 favorites]

Can you tell if they're in a rush to fill this position? Is it a new position, or are they filling a existing job that someone left? That will definitely factor into their feelings about this.
posted by Little Orphan Ennui at 8:20 PM on May 16, 2012

Just say you'll be available August 1.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:36 PM on May 16, 2012

When they make an offer and ask about start dates, that's when you tell them your scheduling conflicts. This should not be a big deal. Many people have pre-planned vacations, especially in the summertime, and as long as you're okay with the idea that you might have to take this month as unpaid time off, you should be fine.

I can't even think of anything to add to this; it's exactly what I was going to say.

Oh, okay, here's something to consider. The whole interview process feels like an audition, except even more arbitrary, as applicants we feel all ZOMG I hope I hope I pass their test and they really really like me and choose me c'mon Lady Luck. But they want to find someone who fits the position almost as badly as you want the job. They want to stop spending money on the hiring process almost as badly as you want them to pay you to work for them. By the time we're in offer-letter territory, the balance is tipping into treating you more as an employee than just an applicant. Now, it obviously pays to be VERY VERY gracious until the deal is sealed, but you can approach things at that point more from the perspective of "very polite reasonable adult person" rather than "pick me! pick me!"
posted by desuetude at 8:56 PM on May 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

Where I work, we would never turn down a better candidate for a worse one just because it would get a butt in a chair a couple weeks sooner. Besides, finding someone else who's decent and scheduling time with interviewers and potentially paying to fly them in, etc, can easily take longer than your vacation anyway. We would just wait for you to come back so you could start then. But, yeah, don't even bring it up until you've agreed on a salary.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:56 PM on May 16, 2012

In my experience, it is contract positions that are generally time-bound, not permanent positions.

Depending on how well you've gotten with the rest of the team, and assuming this is a permanent position, you might even feel free about mentioning the trip; when I'm in an interviewer's chair, I generally don't mind acquiescing to such requests because it would demonstrate that the person has some specific interests beyond the job, always a great thing. Certainly, when I joined my current job, I specifically asked for a three-week delay in joining, because I wanted to go on a backpacking trip into rural Cambodia.

I'd be careful about committing to work remotely with a new team though. You just might need a certain amount of face-time and close bonding in real-space before there's enough trust and flexibility within a team for that kind of arrangement. Additionally, you'd have a bit of a problem in setting expectations and so on if you're doing this remote.
posted by the cydonian at 2:30 AM on May 17, 2012

I would not mention this during the interview at all. I would save it for when the offer is made. My general policy during interviews is that one should always act like this is the perfect job and you are the perfect candidate, short of lying. Just as they will make a decision later about whether to hire you, you will make a decision later about whether to take the job. The details, like scheduled vacations, should only be discussed after they have made a decision. This is not dishonest, they can still decide to withdraw the offer, but it does avoid muddying their decision about whether or not you're the best candidate with whether or not they have a meeting they want you to go to in July.
posted by OmieWise at 5:57 AM on May 17, 2012

Do not volunteer this information until specifically asked when you will be available. And then give your date unflinchingly, with the explanation only that you have commitments until that date that cannot be changed. When pressed, you can frame the trip as more of a "project" than a vacation, and one that will leave time for you to network with their overseas offices if necessary. Come up with a few project goals that specifically impact your new position, and you can use those to elaborate. Couch your trip in professional terms and viola! It becomes an asset during your interview.
posted by raisingsand at 7:12 AM on May 17, 2012

Wait until they ask for your start date. Most companies are willing to negotiate start dates to accommodate a new employee. As an example, a company I worked for let a new employee start a month after he was hired because he was relocating and needed to put his house on the market and arrange moving plans.

Recruiters know that people take vacation, so this isn't going to be a deal breaker. Remember that a recruiter's job is to get qualified candidates, not just fill desks.

Just make sure you don't volunteer this information until you have an offer. It might make you seem arrogant/presumptuous to start negotiating start date during the interview.
posted by deathpanels at 9:27 AM on May 17, 2012

Thanks everyone! The interview went swimmingly so I'm optimistic. Taking the advice here, I didn't mention any travel plans and will wait to see if an offer is extended and deal with it then.
posted by shoesietart at 10:33 AM on May 17, 2012

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