When can you start? "Not until after my surgery"
April 11, 2016 7:36 AM   Subscribe

While interviewing for a new job, you may been asked when you can start working at that company. If that date is a little farther out, would that impact your chances at being hired?

Long story short:

1. I scheduled major surgery for mid-may. (this is the soonest possible date) This surgery is necessary and requires two night stay in the hospital and at least 10 days of no travel.
2. I was laid off from my job, but retain my health insurance/income until the end of June.
3. I have interviews coming up between now and my surgery.
4. The soonest possible date I could start work is June 6th (providing the surgery goes well)
5. I would much rather start after June 20th.

complicating factor: I am willing to relocate to these new jobs. Although I plan to pack as much as I can before the surgery, this is the first time I will be moving my entire home, potentially out of state. I don't know how much time to factor in to move. (I have help from family members to make the actual move)

I am worried that if I have an interview this week or next week, that telling them I need until June 20th will make me a bad candidate. Further more, I know better then to tell them the real reason (surgery) I need that long. How can I tactfully answer this question?

I do not want to postpone my job search if I don't have to.
posted by INFJ to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The time to mention scheduled time off is after the offer letter arrives. A good deal of people have vacations scheduled around that time where they mention it after they've been hired. This is not something to bring up at all during the interview process.
posted by xingcat at 7:42 AM on April 11, 2016 [15 favorites]

Don't stress about the start date. I have been in dozens of job interviews where they stress how desperately they need someone to start right away and make NO decisions until months later. I had one where I was told they needed to hire someone instantly, and finally got a formal offer 3 moths later.

So if they ask, simply say, "I'm working on a project through the end of May." That's only 6 weeks out and this is likely their first round of interviews.

Typically they do round 1 over a two week period. Then they have second rounds with more senior folks. Then when they're ready to extend an offer, it goes to the big Poo-Bah who can make the final decision. THEN, you wait for the formal offer, and then you have a few days or so to review it and return it, THEN you fix on your start date.

Honestly, if they ask, turn it back on them and ask, "When do you expect to make a decision?" You can say, "I'd need the usual two weeks.)

You'll be lucky if it's by June 20.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:44 AM on April 11, 2016 [18 favorites]

Well, you might not get the jobs if you tell them you can't start until the 20th of June.

But you definitely won't get the jobs if you don't apply or interview for them.

Just get started applying, and be honest about your potential start date if things seem like they're moving fast. You have nothing to lose.
posted by mskyle at 7:44 AM on April 11, 2016 [7 favorites]

If you are moving out of state for a job, nobody is going to expect that to happen in the next few weeks. Don't stress it, just apply for the jobs and see what happens.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:59 AM on April 11, 2016 [6 favorites]

I am in this position right now and it's exactly as Ruthless Bunny describes.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:00 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

This is normal for companies and typically comes up during the contract negotiation stage.

How I would frame this is - I am available ASAICM (as soon as I can move), and at the time of offer, negotiate the accommodation you require. They may wish to onboard you before the surgery and may be amenable to some kind of work-from-home scenario that allows you to ease back in on the back end of your surgery. Or - they may skip all that and choose to start you on the 20th.
posted by scrittore at 8:04 AM on April 11, 2016

Your surgery might impact your chances at getting hired. If I need someone in two weeks, and you need 4 weeks to start, I may move on to the next person. Not being able to show up for your first day of work will also affect your chances at staying employed. This is all a non-starter unless and until you get a hard job offer. That's when those negotiations and disclosures begin.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 8:33 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Everyone's potential start dates change and morph, especially during times when a lot of people are on vacation and that kind of thing. I gave three weeks at my last job, the girl who just started here today I think needed a month to get disentangled from her last gig. Sometimes people can give two weeks and sometimes they need more, it's not super crazy weird to need more time. If you are the right candidate and there is no real pressure on the hire date they will wait for you, in my experience.

Good luck.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:41 AM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah the time you're asking for isn't even ridiculous, but either way, don't bring it up until after you have an offer. If you are asked about it directly during the interview process, be vague and say something like "I have a few projects I need to wrap up, but once I receive an offer we can discuss how much time I would need for those."

2 jobs ago I had a two-week vacation scheduled for 2 weeks after I started (no big deal), and at my current job I requested a start date 4 months after I received an offer (with reasoning as to why). I was nervous about that but it was no big deal either - they were willing to wait.

And as people said above, everyone you talk with will be optimistic about timelines. If you are applying today, the earliest you would start is likely 6 weeks from now (given a quick 3 weeks to interview and get an offer, and the completely standard 3 weeks from the offer to your first day [2 weeks of notice at your current job, 1 week off before you start - this is totally normal]). If the process is not absurdly efficient you're probably looking at 4-6 weeks minimum before they get you an offer, and at that point you're barely even asking for extra time. Don't sweat it.
posted by brainmouse at 9:05 AM on April 11, 2016 [2 favorites]

nthing that this is probably not going to be a problem. I was in exactly your position at one point - laid off 1 month prior to a necessary scheduled surgery that couldn't be postponed, and I interviewed throughout that month. There were a couple of "how soon can you start" questions in that process and I used the vague "I have some things to wrap up" language that brainmouse suggests.

I also have started a job where I had vacation already scheduled shortly after my start date but did not mention or negotiate it until I had a written offer in hand. Managers understand that life happens, so this should be no big deal, especially when you throw a relocation into the mix.
posted by bedhead at 10:09 AM on April 11, 2016

Agree with many above - companies will wait for the right person. A few years ago, I was approaching the end of a payback period with a current employer (ie, if I left before a certain date, I'd have to repay what they paid towards my grad school tuition). I got recruited by a company in that mean time and when asked directly during interviews when I could start, I said, "I'm finishing up a contract with [current employer], so I could start 2 months from now on [precise date]." When they made the offer, it was still 7 weeks before that date. They asked if there was any way I could start sooner, I said no, I had to fulfill my current obligation, and they were fine with that. They did hook me up with the company email early, and I was on a plane the day before my official start date to attend a company function - so I hit the ground running hard, but it was very doable.

Especially with a potential move, mid-June should be no trouble.
posted by writermcwriterson at 10:34 AM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Please don't mention this in the interview process. It isn't relevant to whether you can do the job. Once you are negotiating start date, you can discuss it. If you're just starting interviews, the a mid-June start date is just about right, maybe even optimistic.

Also, is there a reason you couldn't start today, get onto the new company's insurance and then take medical leave? We've hired someone in the late stages of pregnancy knowing she'd need to go on leave soon. We didn't discuss it during the interview, and she was the best person in the candidate pool.

A boss is going to be with an employee for a long time. If I need to wait a few weeks for the right person, I'm okay with that.
posted by 26.2 at 1:48 PM on April 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Don't mention it til you have an offer. But it's very common to adjust start dates regardless of all the 'need someone to start ASAP!'. Heck, my employer has waited a year for someone (rather than the 6 months we expected). For a good hire, you don't mind waiting.
posted by kitten magic at 7:03 PM on April 11, 2016

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