How can I go to job interviews when I'm working office hours?
August 16, 2017 9:15 AM   Subscribe

I'm working a bit outside London (but living in London), with awkward transport options once I get outside tube range that mean I leave London at about 7 a.m. and return around 6 p.m. So I can't pop out at lunchtime, nor start and finish work early to go to an interview at the end of the working day.

How can I do interviews? Do I have to take annual leave every time I want to go to an interview? (What do people in this sort of situation do if it takes a lot of interviews before they get an offer? Spend all their annual leave on interviews?) Can I ask employers if they can interview me some time outside normal working hours? Obviously I'd rather not tell my current employer I'm looking for something else.
posted by tangerine_poppies to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Schedule interviews in blocks so you can take 1-2 sick days to attend them. If there is minimal travel time between locations, schedule as many (no more than 3) in one day as you think you can handle.
posted by annathea at 9:18 AM on August 16, 2017

Some employers will do interviews outside working hours for exceptional candidates. That said, in my career, I've only seen that happen two or three times.

Take annual leave for the interview. You're not working for your employer and you're not sick - that's what it's for. Taking sick leave is unethical and likely violates your employment agreement with your employer.
posted by saeculorum at 9:23 AM on August 16, 2017 [3 favorites]

As I understand your parameters - I would schedule the interviews for first thing in the morning or last thing in the working day, tell your existing employer that you have an 'appointment' and come in a bit later/leave a bit earlier. Let them assume it's a medical appointment. If you feel guilty, stay late the same day or the next day to make up the hours.

Wherever I've worked (and I'm UK-based too), a few incidences of pre-arranged coming in late or leaving early has never been seen as a biggie. It would depend on the organisational culture of your workplace, though.

I wouldn't do this too many times in a row. If you can schedule multiple interviews on the same day, I would take annual leave.
posted by Ziggy500 at 9:33 AM on August 16, 2017 [14 favorites]

It's technically a bit naughty, but if time off is tricky to arrange I'd feel no guilt and just call in sick.

A strategicallly timed 'stomach bug' 'migraine' or other issue is usually a no questions asked affair in most workplaces and soon forgotten as soon as the back to work form us signed even in the most micromanaged environments.

I've done this a few times and no one has ever joined the dots between me being sick, and later accepting an offer.
posted by Middlemarch at 10:44 AM on August 16, 2017 [4 favorites]

I would strongly recommend not calling in sick because not only is it unethical and likely a violation of your existing employment contract, as your prospective employer I would not look kindly on employing someone who'd done that either. Take annual leave, or factor it into flexitime if you have it. If the employer is really interested then they can often be more flexible - at previous companies, I've interviewed candidates at 8am and 6pm before, specifically for this reason. There's no one single solution, though, and you're going to have to work with the companies you're applying to to figure something out that works.
posted by parm at 10:56 AM on August 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you've only got one interview can you work from home to accommodate repair man or a furniture delivery or a medical appointment? If none of those work then yes, take leave. The last time I was job searching I stacked first interviews to fill the day, if it wasn't an all day process. I also came up with reason to leave early or start later. Specifically I came up with plans for a weekend trip that required me to finish work at 1pm. I made up the time during that week. Instead of starting the weekend I drove from Derby to Cambridge for a final interview at 4.30 pm, the last external job interview I had, more than 10 years ago. But if transport is a very limiting factor you're basically stuck with options that get you out of the office all day.
posted by koahiatamadl at 11:23 AM on August 16, 2017

Use whatever leave you have. I'd have no compunction about calling in "sick" when I feel fine if doing so would help me secure a better job. I've never been through an interview process that only required one interview (maybe this is different in Britain and of course depends on the industry), so you might also have to plan on taking off another day (at least) if your first interview goes well. Don't, of course, tell your prospective employer what excuse you used to make time to do the interview. It's none of their business. Nor is it your employers business what kind of ailment kept you home (you were sick of that damn job is good enough to me).
posted by dis_integration at 11:24 AM on August 16, 2017

I wouldn't lie about being sick, one because it's wrong and two because if you're seen, you've now been caught in a lie. Just use the nonsense term "personal business." Your job has no right to know what you're doing on your time off. If you had a relative in trouble or friend in a bad situation that you needed to take a day to help, you wouldn't tell them. So, just don't tell them.
posted by cnc at 11:35 AM on August 16, 2017 [2 favorites]

See if you can at least schedule the phone screens outside of normal business hours. Or maybe during a lunch break and you can duck out to somewhere quiet?
posted by radioamy at 11:40 AM on August 16, 2017

I would schedule the interviews for first thing in the morning or last thing in the working day, tell your existing employer that you have an 'appointment' and come in a bit later/leave a bit earlier. Let them assume it's a medical appointment. If you feel guilty, stay late the same day or the next day to make up the hours.

This is my advice, too. I have also framed this as needing time off for a pressing and too-personal-to-discuss "situation with my family that I have to deal with." (Which could be participating in a relative's medical caregiving, legal trouble, or just family drama.)

*The actual situation, of course, is that my family and friends all agree that I need to get the HELL out of this miserable job.
posted by desuetude at 1:03 PM on August 16, 2017

Work from home due to an appointment during the day. I like family business as the excuse as how I earn an income is definitely my family's business. However I would only supply that excuse if pressed.

To really cover your bases, always call out for generic appointments regardless of the reason (medical, car trouble, repair, legal, etc). This makes it less obvious you are job hunting.
posted by crazycanuck at 3:27 PM on August 16, 2017 [1 favorite]

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